The Best Death Valley National Park One Day Itinerary (2024)

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Want to know the best Death Valley National Park one day itinerary? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know!

Death Valley National Park One Day Itinerary

We’re super excited to share with you our best Death Valley National Park one day itinerary!

When we planned this itinerary we were actually in Las Vegas and decided to drive through Death Valley on our way home to Orange County, California.

From Las Vegas, Death Valley is actually only a couple of hours away.

Our drive home back to Anaheim from Death Valley was only about 4 1/2 hours.

But later in the post we’ll talk logistics.

For now, here’s the itinerary you’ll want to follow.

1. Death Valley National Park Entrance Sign

First, you’ll want to stop at the Death Valley National Park Entrance Sign.

Some parks are easier than others to stop and take a photo.

Luckily, Death Valley is one that is easy.

Definitely stop and get out for a minute for those family photos!

Death Valley National Park entrance sign

2. Dante’s View

Second, you’ll want to stop at Dante’s View.

Coming from Las Vegas, the best route to take through the park logistically is to start at Dante’s View.

It is all by it’s lonesome in the opposite direction of everything else, so it’s best to get it out of the way first.

From Vegas it is about a 2 1/2 hour drive through the middle of nowhere to get to this first main attraction in Death Valley.

Dante’s View is a great spot for sunrise or sunset, but is also fine for visiting in the middle of the day.

It overlooks the entire basin from 5,000+ feet above.

Star Wars fans will want to stop here because they’ll recognize it from Episode IV: A New Hope.

Dante's View at Death Valley National Park

3. Zabriskie Point

From Dante’s View, Zabriskie Point is a 20 mile drive (about 30-35 minutes).

It is arguably the most famous viewpoint in the park and is definitely another spot you would want to be at for Sunrise or Sunset.

4. Furnace Creek Visitor Center

The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is about 5 miles from Zabriskie Point, so it’s a pretty short drive.

We stopped here to get our souvenir ornament and a park map since cell service is always spotty.

This visitor center would be really cool to visit if you ever happen to be in Death Valley on one of the days it’s near world record temperatures because they have an accurate thermometer outside to take photos. I

t’s a much cooler photo if it says something like 120 degrees rather than the 88 degrees while we were there.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center at Death Valley National Park - thermometer

5. Devil’s Golf Course

The next few stops can all be done in any order since they are along the same road.

You have to go back out the same road, which is why it doesn’t matter which order you do stops 5-7.

Devil’s Golf Course is 10 miles from Furnace Creek Visitor Center, which is about 15 minutes away.

It’s an area of the park filled with eroded rock salt.

There’s a trail all the way out to the middle that leads to a historical marker type sign.

Our plan was to walk all the way out to it, but it seemed like it was a never ending trail.

After walking 30 minutes in we turned back around and walked back to our car.

This trail is definitely longer than it appears!

Devil's Golf Course at Death Valley National Park

6. Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is another 10 miles from Devil’s Golf Course, about 15 minutes away.

It’s claim to fame is that it is the lowest elevation in North America at -282 feet below sea level!

Definitely get out and get a picture with a sign, and if it’s not too hot, head out on the boardwalk to take in your surroundings.

This was the busiest place we experienced during our day in the park, but there was still plenty of parking and we didn’t have to wait long to get a photo with this sign.

7. Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette

Okay, so this drive is amazing!

It is also just about 10 miles from Badwater Basin as you make your way back where you came from.

It’ll be on your right hand side as you start driving.

This is why we did it on our way back, since turning right is usually much easier than turning left.

The drive circles back out onto this road and doesn’t lead anywhere else, so you definitely won’t get lost.

About halfway through the drive is Artist’s Palette.

Depending on the time of day and the weather, you can see a ton of colors in the rocks, hence the name, Artist’s Palette.

It is a very fun, narrow drive through rocks with a few hills and dips that keep it interesting.

I highly recommend taking this route on your way back from Badwater Basin.

If you’ve ever been to Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort and Spa at Walt Disney World, this name may sound familiar to you.

Artist’s Palette is the quick-service/fast casual dining option at the resort.

Artist's Palette on Artist's Drive at Death Valley National Park

8. Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes

Lastly, this next part is a bit farther away from everything else.

It’s about 30 miles from Artist’s Drive and takes about 45 minutes.

If you have the time to add in this stop, definitely do it.

Walking on sand is a bit more tedious than most surfaces, but you don’t have to go out too far, if you don’t want to.

Additionally, you can even just view them from your car if you want.

It’s the largest sand dune field in the park and FUN FACT – these are the sand dunes of Tatooine from Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.

More Places To Visit In Death Valley National Park

There’s definitely more to see and do in the park if you have the time, but since we were just passing through for a half day trip, we could only stop at the highlights.

Some of the other top places to visit include: Harmony Borax Works, Colorful Desolation Canyon Hike, Golden Canyon Hike, Twenty Mule Team Canyon Scenic Drive, Keane Wonder Mine, and last but not least, backcountry trails and drives.

Where To Stay When Visiting Death Valley National Park

There are two hotels and resorts inside Death Valley that are totally worth staying at.

✔️ The Ranch at Death Valley

The Ranch at Death Valley is a family friendly resort with a pool, restaurants, bars, and lounges.

This one is generally the cheaper option of the two.

They offer standard hotel rooms as well as cottages.

?? Click Here To Book Your Stay At The Ranch At Death Valley Today!

✔️ The Inn At Death Valley

The Inn at Death Valley is a luxury 4 star resort with a restaurant and pool.

This one is obviously more of a splurge, but it’s so worth it for this desert oasis.

There are standard rooms here as well as casitas.

?? Click Here To Book Your Stay At The Inn At Death Valley Today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Death Valley National Park

National Parks notoriously take a lot of planning and the information can be overwhelming.

Here are the most frequently asked questions we see about visiting Death Valley.

✅ Is 1 Day Enough For Death Valley?

Yes and no.

The entire above itinerary was completed in one day.

However, there are even more popular spots where if you want to see it all you might want to plan to stay for 2 or 3 days.

✅ How Long Should I Spend At Death Valley National Park?

This entirely depends on what kind of time you have and what you want to see and do while you’re here.

You can do the above itinerary in about 6 hours or less if you’re just passing through for the day.

We ate before and after visiting the park, so if you’re dining while you’re there either at the resort or a picnic lunch, you’ll want to add in time for that as well.

Lastly, if you’re staying until the evening to see the night sky, you’ll want to add even more time to your itinerary or start your day later.

✅ How Long Does It Take To Drive Through Death Valley National Park?

If you’re just driving through and visiting the above sites, that can take about 4-6 hours.

If you’re just driving straight through the park, it’s about 90 miles wide and takes about an hour and a half to drive it.

✅ Do I Need A Pass To Drive Through Death Valley National Park?

Yes!

Even if you’re just passing through the park and not visiting anything, there are still entrance booths where you’ll have to either have a National Park Pass, a Death Valley Pass, or pay the day fee to enter.

✅ What Is The Weather Like In Death Valley?

As you’ll see in the photos, we were able to enjoy the park in long pants and t-shirts during our visit in March.

It was in the high 80’s while we were there, which is much tolerable than the Summer temperatures of 115+ daily.

The weather in Death Valley is hot and dry, with an average annual temperature of 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

The hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth was 134 degrees Fahrenheit, which was measured in Death Valley in 1913.

The weather is also very dry, with an average annual rainfall of less than 2 inches.

This makes Death Valley one of the driest places on Earth.

The weather in Death Valley is influenced by its location in a desert basin.

The basin is surrounded by mountains, which trap heat and moisture.

This creates a very hot and dry climate.

The weather is also very variable, with sudden changes in temperature and wind.

The best time to visit Death Valley is during the spring or fall, when the weather is cooler and more pleasant.

The summer months are very hot and crowded, and the winter months can be cold and windy.

More Great National Parks To Visit In California

California is home to 9 of America’s National Parks.

Pair them for an epic California road trip or if you’re a local, take a weekend to visit each one.

☑ Yosemite National Park One Day Itinerary

Yosemite National Park is easily the most well known and popular of the National Parks in California.

There’s so much to do in this park, but the average visitor can see many of the highlights in a one day trip.

Lower Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park

☑ Channel Islands National Park Santa Cruz Island Day Trip

Santa Cruz Island is one of the most visited islands in the Channel Islands.

It’s an easy boat trip from Ventura Harbor Village.

You schedule your trip in advance for arrival and departure times on the island and you can even choose to stay and camp overnight on the island if you like.

Santa Cruz Island at Channel Islands National Park

☑ Channel Islands National Park Santa Rosa Island Day Trip

Santa Rosa Island is a bit further out, but can still be visited on a day trip from Ventura.

It takes a little longer to get there and back, but that’s more opportunities for whale watching along the way.

Santa Rosa Island at Channel Islands National Park

☑ Joshua Tree National Park Day Trip Itinerary

Joshua Tree is just outside of Palm Springs and is best paired with a trip to the whole area.

It’s one of the Dark Sky Parks where you can see virtually everything in the sky at night due to its distance from any neighboring cities.

But if you’re visiting just for the day, we have an easy itinerary that takes you through the whole park, ending with the perfect sunset where you can see all the way to Mexico.

Skull Rock at Joshua Tree National Park

☑ Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park One Day Itinerary

Sequoia and Kings Canyon are technically 2 separate National Parks, but they’re connected to each other, so most visitors will see both when they visit.

You’ll see some of the oldest and tallest trees in the US and venture down into the valley into a completely different environment.

Lunch at the lodge is also a great experience.

Sequoia National Park overlook

Click here for more National Park itineraries around the US.

Conclusion: Death Valley National Park One Day Itinerary

This is the best Death Valley National Park one day itinerary for first time visitors or those that don’t have a ton of time to visit.

There are no long, strenuous hikes, and if you visit in the Spring or Fall you should have pleasant weather for your visit too.

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One Day Itinerary - Death Valley National Park - Devil's Golf Course