A route that starts from Yosemite National Park and then continues towards Las Vegas. Are you ready to discover much more than suggestive panoramas?
A visit to Death Valley National Park is a must for anyone crossing the California and for anyone in the direction of Las Vegas after crossing it Yosemite National Park.
You usually arrive here during a travel on the road with a rental car, a so-called fly and drive.
The itinerary that I propose comes from Yosemite National Park and then continues towards Las Vegas; this is just one of the stops on my tour in California, Nevada, Utah at the discovery of the most beautiful American parks.
The Valley of Death
The Valley of Death is at the same time a geological wonder, a desert and a national park unique in the world, which offers truly special views and emotions.
Inside is the largest depression in the United States (the Badwater Basin).
From a practical point of view, visiting Death Valley is a real feat if done in summer months - especially during the very popular July and August. A possible undertaking with due care.
In fact, the temperature is really prohibitive throughout the valley and the sun beats down relentlessly all year round.
A sunstroke or heat stroke are the least that can happen to an inattentive visitor.
For this reason it is good to wear a hat, cover your body well (yes, you got it right ... if the Bedouins in the desert are covered up to the nose there will be a reason), hydrate properly and do not expose yourself in the hottest hours.
It is also important to have one reliable rental car, fill up with petrol and check the water level ... please!
Having made these necessary premises, let's start for a short itinerary which can be accomplished in less than a day at discovery of the most interesting viewpoints within the suggestive Death Valley!
Entrance to Stovepipe Wells
Come in early in the morning at the entrance to Stovepipe Wells; dawn would be the ideal time, not only to avoid the heat but also to admire the colors of the rising sun and embrace this immense desert area.
This means a tremendous upset if you come from not too close countries; if you have planned to stay here overnight ... well, you will sleep a couple of hours more!
Stovepipe is home to one of the park's two petrol stations, so watch out for refueling!
Stop 1. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Along Route 190 a few kilometers from Stovepipe Wells you will encounter this incredible landscape made of white sand dunes that are constantly changing due to the wind.
An expanse about 40 kilometers wide, truly incredible: it seems to be in the middle of the Sahara desert and if you look closely you will seem to see Lawrence of Arabia appear!
There are no marked trails so be careful and if you feel like climbing a dune don't go too far.
Continuing on the 190 towards the east you will come across this locality where you will find the visitor center, a second petrol pump and services including market and restaurant.
Stop 2. Badwater Basin
Leave 190 for the moment and go down 30km south along Badwater road.
You will reach the very famous Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the USA: -86 meters below sea level!
This basin in prehistoric times was a lake, now dried up.
You will find one in front of your eyes huge incredible expanse of salt; try to walk on it, it will seem to be on the moon!
Be careful, this is it the hottest spot in the park so if you are here in the summer don't get far from the car, drink a lot and cover your head.
Stop 3. Artist's Drive and Palette
Go back to Furnace Creek; about halfway on the right you have to take a narrower one-way street that will take you to the discovery of a magical landscape: the Artist's Drive.
Why this name? Because the hills surrounding this circular path really look like painted by the hand of an artist.
Colors and shades follow one another along the layered rocks and there are no adequate words to describe them: you absolutely must see them.
It is no coincidence that George Lucas chose this location to shoot some scenes from the Star Wars saga!
The whole ring is covered in about 30 minutes, to be done calmly admiring what is revealed outside the window.
Halfway there is a particularly colorful and extravagant observation point where you can park and get off for some photos, there Artist's Palette.
You can also take a short trek on an adjacent path, but in summer it is not advisable to venture.
Stop 4. Zabriskie Point
Drive back to Furnace Creek, take back to 190 and continue to this famous viewpoint.
Park your car in the car park and take a short and comfortable walk to enjoy these soft mountains that seem hand-modeled and made of cream.
In reality these badlands are the result of the action of atmospheric agents on the bottom of a former dried up lake.
Surreal, crazy, unique.
Stop 5. Twenty Mule Team Canyon
Always continue on the main road towards the south and take this ring circuit that will take you through a spectacular canyon with rocks with the most absurd shapes.
You will return to the 190 to continue the itinerary.
You will be tired and hot, but full of wonderful images in the eyes. Don't worry, our trip to the Death Valley is almost over!
Stop 6. Dante's View
Before aiming in the direction of the Death Valley Junction and exit the park to continue with the next stage of your on the road tour, I suggest a detour to this simply divine viewpoint.
At nearly 1700 meters high, Dante's View will allow you to dominate and see Death Valley in all its extension and majesty.
Get your cameras ready because the glance will leave you speechless.
Following this short itinerary you will have seen the most emblematic points of this magical place that would certainly be worth a more in-depth visit in spring to be able to enjoy the walks and to be able to savor the surreal atmosphere.
After this "hot" day you will probably be headed to the city where everything is possible ... Las Vegas!
Less than 2 hours by car await you, and if you want to do one fun detour pass by Amargosa Valley where you will find the funny shop on the street "Area 51 Alien Center" with many UFO-themed gadgets.
Oh yes, the infamous Top Secret Area is not very far from here.