Explore one of the most extreme and unique landscapes in the world with a one-day tour of Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas.
From the salt flats to the towering sand dunes, experience a vast array of geological wonders and stunning desert views.
With a knowledgeable guide on-hand to answer any questions, you’ll get the most out of your visit to the largest national park in the contiguous United States.
Overview of the road trip
Death Valley National Park can be visited in just one day from Las Vegas. Yes! The season determines how easy it is, too.
Driving time between Las Vegas and Death Valley
As we travel along Death Valley, we will make our way to the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center. There is only one visitor center in this park, and it lies almost dead center.
There are two routes to Death Valley from Las Vegas. The drive between the two takes about two hours and fifteen minutes.
Highway 95 leads northward towards Amargosa Valley in the first one.
Despite being approximately 20 miles (32 km) long, the trip takes about the same amount of time.
Highway 160 takes you south through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (our favorite scenic route).
We will, however, take both routes on this trip. On the way there and on the way back, we will use one of them.
Beware of summer travelers!
It can get very hot in Death Valley. Summers are hot, like really hot. Earth’s hottest place is Death Valley.
Certain parts of the park regularly reach temperatures of 100°F (38°C) during May, June, July, August, and September.
There are often temperatures in excess of 120°F (49°C) during the peak of summer. Even the healthiest people can be threatened by those temperatures.
The park is still perfectly safe to visit if one takes some precautions, however, in the summer. Drink plenty of water and carry plenty with you.
Water should be carried with you and consumed at least one gallon (4 liters) a day to replace sweat loss. If you are active, drink more water.
The second tip is to stay on paved roads during the summer. Stay with your car until help arrives if it breaks down. Last but not least, be on the lookout for trouble signs.
Drink water or sports drinks if you feel dizzy, nauseated, or have headaches after being in the sun
The best time to visit is in the spring, fall, and winter
Despite its popularity in the spring and fall, the park never seems to get too crowded due to its size.
There are only two larger national parks in the country bigger than Death Valley, the massive Alaskan parks. As well, the weather has become much more manageable.
There are surprisingly comfortable temperatures in February, March, April, and November with average highs in the 60s and 70s.
One-Day Itinerary: Death Valley & Las Vegas
Las Vegas departs at 7:30 AM
Make sure you grab some supplies before leaving Las Vegas. Make sure to stock up on lots of water, sports drinks, snacks, and lunch.
We are about two hours away from Death Valley’s first stop.
Before entering the park, you should also make sure your vehicle is fuelled up.
9:30 AM – Arrive at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley
Coordinates of the parking lot: 36.420930, -116.809618
Located on a very high overlook, Zabriskie Point offers views of the otherworldly and eroded badlands.
People stop here to take pictures all the time. It’s great to see sunrises and sunsets here, but we left Vegas about 3 or 4 hours too late to see any of those.
Visit the Furnace Creek Visitor Center at 10:00 AM
Coordinates of the parking lot: 36.461416, -116.866810
Furnace Creek Visitor Center is located 9 minutes from the Zabriskie Point parking lot. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
There are interactive exhibits, drinking water, ranger programs, and trail information at the center.
The Ranch’s General Store is open until 11:00 AM for a quick lunch
Furnace Creek, CA 92328, Greenland Ranch Rd
Travelers to Death Valley will find something here to suit their tastes.
There is a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables, grocery items, beer and wine, snacks, and cold beverages, as well as souvenirs to remember your trip.
Before our next few short hikes within the park, we think it’s the best place to grab a quick bite to eat.
The Golden Canyon Trail will be hiked at 11:30 AM
Coordinates of trailhead: 36.461416, -116.866810
Follow Badwater Road south from Furnace Creek. Golden Canyon Trail’s trailhead parking lot is about 3.5 miles away.
Taking you to the red walls of the canyon, this trail is 2.5 miles round trip.
There is a gold corridor of badlands that surrounds the canyon, making it at once bright and desolate, as it opens up to the canyon.
As you hike along the path toward Red Cathedral, it will fork about a mile into your hike. It is a sight you will not want to miss if you are feeling up to it.
The Scenic Artists Drive will be open at 1:00 PM
The coordinates of Scenic Drive are 36.381695, -116.851100
There are five miles of scenic Artists’ Drive south of Furnace Creek. A nine-mile one-way loop, named for the varied colors it displays, follows the alluvial fans at the base of the Black Mountains.
Volcanic rock formations acquire their colors through the oxidation of different metals. Throughout the drive, purples, greens, reds, and yellows paint the landscape.
For the best scenic overlook, stop at Artists Palette midway.
To reach our next destination, we need to drive 8 miles (13 kilometers) south along Badwater Road.
Badwater Basin exploration at 1:45 p.m.
Coordinates of the parking lot: 36.230356, -116.766588
The parking area for Badwater Basin can be found approximately 8 miles after exiting Artists Drive.
There is nothing like Badwater Basin in North America and it is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.
If you wish to walk out onto the vast salt flats, be prepared to get wet.
The weather will be hot, dry, and bright. The distant Black Mountains will also make you feel dwarfed.
Salsberry Pass is the exit from Death Valley at 4 pm
There are still 29 miles of Badwater Road before you need to turn left onto Jubilee Pass Road (Highway 178).
Salsberry Pass will be reached after another 25 miles on Jubilee Pass Road. Highway 127 will take you out of the park near the Californian town of Shoshone.
A total of 54 miles will need to be driven through Death Valley in an hour and fifteen minutes
The flight arrives in Las Vegas at 5:30-6:30 PM
You will need about 1.75 hours to drive 92 miles from Shoshone to Las Vegas.
You will pass through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area on your way home, which would be a great place to stretch your legs if you need to.