- User Rating: Very Good
Time needed for visit:
Pros:an experience you might do once!!
Cons:not much to go back to again
The Bottom Line: Visit it once, you must try it, even only to say. "Damn, it sure is hot!!"
I have been to many, many, National parks. As with all of them there is always an experience you will never forget. To me Death Valley is a one time experience. Now I love suggesting and sending people out to see our wonderful parks but you must realize they must have named this place Death Valley for a reason.
My wife and I were traveling from San Francisco to Las Vegas by car. A car that did not have a working air conditioner. Yes, Yes, why would I do that. Well we were on limited time on our vacation and simply didn't have the time to have it repaired. We would rather "bear with it" than lose a day traveling. I am sure the heat also tainted my review.
I decided to take rt 190 west into the desert. Be sure you have a very full tank before going in and do know that gas prices are double the usual. Another must!! Bring gallons of extra water just in case you have car trouble and water to drink too.
On the road we were traveling and traveling and we saw no-one driving either way. That was kind of scary. You may see signs saying stop ahead for information on how to survive in the desert. There were water tanks too. When we got there the tanks were empty and no literature.
On we continued. Then we had to make a decision. Go South to the Visitors Center or North to Scotties Castle. We opted for Scotties.
Now there really was a guy named Scottie who said there was a gold mine somewhere in the desert. People are still looking for it now. Somehow he befriended the Johnson couple and the next thing you know there is a home built that is a cross between an adobe house and a European castle, turrets and all. But no moat!!
This private home built in the "Roaring Twenties" is now run by the National Parks service.
This is definitly a place to stop. In fact it could be your highlight if you are not into fauna and geological information, and searching for bugs that go underground to get away from the heat. The castle is very cool, well hot but cool, with it's old time decor, and ranger guided tours. Scotties Castle is about thirty five miles north of rt 190.
Get back onto rt 190 and you will make it to the Furnace Creak Visitor Center. Now isn't that another name trying to tell you something?! Here you can get a lot of information about the park.The rangers are a wealth of information. There is a film giving some geological history of Death Valley along with info on people that crossed through and the hidden wildlife there. Hey I would hide if I were wildlife too. This place is Scorching Hot!!!
You can also get your Passport book inked at the cancellation station there. For more info see the link below titled, Passport to your National Parks, All you may want to know. This is a great way to learn about the park and get enthusiasm to go to other parks, reserves, and historic sites.
After the visitors center, that is air conditioned, we went back out to our car. We couldn't get back in. The door handles were to hot to touch!. The ground temperature gets well over 150 degrees. It was 116 air temperature that July day we were there. As a gift for my dad, when we returned home, I gave him a rock from Death Vally. Not really, I wouldn't take anything from our parks, bu,t what I did do was take a rock from outside his home. I heated it up in his oven, made a presentation talking about how hot the desert was, the even hotter ground temperature, and all that, and then handed him the rock. I'm glad it was too hot for him to handle. He probably would have thrown it at me.
Death Valley is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. It is almost 300 ft below sea level. You can visit this part of the park. It's called Badwater Basin. Another charming name?! You do get of feeling of being at the bottom of a huge saucer.
Due to the surrounding mountains the valley rarely gets rain.
We concluded our day by driving south out of the Desert and into Las Vegas. We didn't see any wildlife even though it was dusk when we left. I was disappointed. It is a good day trip from Vegas if you are there.
The park does have other things to do. There are horse trips available and you can get to see ghost towns. There are some trails too. There is an area with huge sand dunes to see. It just seemed so far between different places to visit. I do recommend going at a different time of year. And please, be sure you air conditioner is working.
Death Vally is listed in the book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die. To read about the book and see some of the other listings go to
1,000 Places to See Before You Die
Other reviews of National Parks by Popsrocks
.Acadia National Park My favorite National Park !!
Badlands National Park A Black Hills wonder
.Biscayne National Park Great snorkeling
.Bryce Canyon National Park Home of the Hoo Doo
.Death Valley National Park Not so Hot
.Dry Tortugas National Park A unique Island Fort with snorkeling
.Everglades National Park A safari in Florida
Grand Canyon National Park The North Rim
Shenandoah National Park Sky Line Drive
Virgin Islands National Park WOW !!!! But don't tell anyone about it.
Wind Cave National Park an underground wonder!
Zion National Park Amazing diversity!
A couple of helpful books
National Parks for Dummies A great book for planning a trip
National Geographic Guide to National Parks A good reference book
National Parks PassPort
.Collect National Parks
National Parks System
Our National Parks
Frommer's Las Vegas Guide
MY favorite Map.
2005 American Map Road Atlas: Large Scale - Large Type
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Best time to go: December-February
Recommended for: Thrillseekers
Review Topic: Overview