Duration: 2.5 days
Starting point: Irvine, CA
Budget for 2 people: $440 ($160 hotel, $130 gas, $100 food, $50 other)
- Day 0: drive from Irvine, CA to Lone Pine, CA (250 mi, 4 h)
- Day 1: Stovepipe Wells Area: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (80 mi, 1.5 h); Scotty’s Castle Area: Scotty’s Castle (40 mi, 1 h), Ubehebe Crater (9 mi, 25 min); back to Lone Pine, CA (130 mi, 2.5 h)
- Day 2: Furnace Creek Area: Salt Flats (115 mi, 2.2 h), Artist’s Drive (10 mi, 30 min), Zabriskie Point (12 mi, 20 min), Dante’s View (20 mi, 40 min); drive back to Irvine, CA (290 mi, 5 h)
I believe that Death Valley is an underestimated National Park. The territory is huge and there are so many things to see and do. Actually, Death Valley is the largest US National Park after Alaska. We spent there 2 days and covered only some of the places that it offers. I was very impressed and would like to go back to explore more. Death Valley offers: salt flats in the area located below sea level, high mountains, canyons, interesting rock formations, sand dunes, volcano craters, joshua trees, stunning views!
After work drive from Irvine, CA to Lone Pine, CA.
Stop 1: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Not a typical view to see. These sand dunes are easily accessed in the park. The area is quite big and you can spend some time climbing the dunes and taking pictures.
Stop 2: Scotty’s Castle
You wouldn’t expect to see any nice buildings in a desert, however, this is what the Scotty’s Castle is. This Spanish mansion was build in 1920s as a vacation home. You can take a tour and go inside if you’d like, but we only explored from the outside.
Stop 3: Ubehebe Crater
This is a 600 feet deep crater that was created ~300 years ago by a volcanic explosion. You can get really close to the crater and enjoy a hike around it, and see some small craters too.
We didn’t get to this place, but this is one of the other “must see’s” – The Racetrack. In this area rocks slide across the territory in a mysterious way, leaving behind long tracks. You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle to get there though.
Stop 1: Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater
Badwater is located 282 feet below sea level. This area is surrounded by a salt flats. You can come really close to see the salt crystals and assess how large the territory is. There are no plants or animals there, just salt which looks very fragile.
Very close by there is a 9-mile scenic loop drive – Artist’s Drive. Another creation of nature – volcanic hills that look like somebody has painted them.
Stop 2: Zabriskie Point
This is one of the most popular points in the Park. You’ll get to see surreal erosional landscape, colored hills and a spectacular view.
Stop 3: Dante’s View
Astonishing view over the Death Valley from the 5476 feet height.
For more information you can always refer to the National Parks site.