How to Get to Death Valley: Ultimate Guide & Tips

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Death Valley is one of the most unique and fascinating places to visit in the world! Find out how to get to Death Valley and experience this one-of-a-kind location in person.

Keep reading, in this post, you will also discover tips on preparing for your trip to Death Valley, a packing checklist, and where to stay in the national park.

Or if you would prefer to visit Death Valley from Las Vegas with a professional guide, I have recommended three different and highly rated tours for you to check out.

8 Must See Stops Death Valley National Park

Where is Death Valley

Death Valley runs through the southeastern corner of California and along the border of Nevada. It is the largest National Park in North America outside of Alaska.

Death Valley is famously known as the hottest place on earth, breaking the world record of 134 degrees Fahrenheit. It is also the driest and lowest point in the entire country. The mesmerizing salt flats at Badwater Basin are 282 feet below sea level.

one day itinerary in death valley

How to Get to Death Valley

The only way you can get to Death Valley is by car. The national park does not have any public transportation or shuttles available. You will either need to rent a car and road trip to Death Valley or book a day trip tour.

🚗 If you need to book a car for Death Valley, check here & compare for the best rates.

What City is Closest to Death Valley

The closest major cities to Death Valley include Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, & Yosemite. The approximate driving times from these major destinations:

  • Las Vegas: 2 to 2.5 hour driving time  
  • Los Angeles: 4 to 4.5 hour driving time
  • San Francisco: 7.5 hour driving time
  • Yosemite National Park: 6 hour driving time. Always check for road closures when traveling to or from Yosemite, especially in the winter. 

✈️  Booking your flight to California As you know, visiting California can be pricey! Save where you can and look for the best rate for flights on Skyscanner

How to Get to Death Valley From Las Vegas

The most direct route from Las Vegas is via Pahrump, NV, and California Highway 190, which will take you about 2 hours. The other option is to take 95 N to Beatty, NV, and enter the park through NV 374.

Both routes from Las Vegas driving time is 2 hours and around 120 miles. If you are short on time, it is possible to visit Death Valley National as a day trip from Las Vegas.

How to Get to Death Valley From Los Angeles

From Los Angeles, there are two routes to get to Death Valley National Park. You can either take, Interstate 10 or 210 to Interstate 15 north to Baker, then California 127 to California 190 E into the park.
The other option is the western route, and take California 14, then U.S. 395, then California 190 E.

Either way, you decide to travel, it will take you to the same Death Valley entrance at Furnace Creek. The drive time to get to Death Valley from Los Angeles is approximately 4 to 4.5 hours.

How to Get to Death Valley From San Francisco

Death Valley from San Francisco is a 7.5 to 8.5-hour drive, so you can imagine there are a couple of options for getting there.

You can either go south via 1-5 S, which is the fastest route to Death Valley. Or you can go the more scenic route and drive north towards Yosemite via CA-120 E and US-395 S. When traveling to or from Yosemite, be aware of road closures, especially in the winter.

Where is mono Lake: Mono Lake Tufas

If you have extra time or are looking for the perfect stop on your road trip, you should consider visiting Mono Lake. Mono Lake is known for its ancient lake and the ghost-like tufa columns, we stopped here on our road trip from Death Valley, and it was incredible.

Guided Tours to Death Valley National Park

Another option of how to get to Death Valley is by a guided tour. There are so many awesome tours you can book to see Death Valley National Park.

Booking a tour is also a great idea if you are flying into Las Vegas and want to plan a hassle-free trip to Death Valley.

how to get to death valleyZabriskie point

Death Valley Day Trip From Las Vegas

Avoid the inconvenience of renting a car and book a guided tour to Death Valley from Las Vegas. During this full-day tour, you will experience all of the major highlights of Death Valley including Furnace Creek, Artist’s Palette, Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, and the old ghost town of Rhyolite.

Your professional tour guide will pick you up from your hotel in Las Vegas in a luxury SUV where you will learn about Death Valley’s history, landscape, and wildlife along the way. Breakfast and lunch are also included during your trip.

⭐️ To book this highly rated and popular day trip tour from Las Vegas to Death Valley you can go here.

Death Valley Day Trip From Las Vegas Including Sunset & Stargazing

Book a jam-packed day full of adventure exploring Death Valley’s major sights, a gorgeous sunset, and stargazing. This day trip from Las Vegas includes a visit to Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Palette, Dantes View, and sunset over Golden Canyon or from Zabriskie Point.

If you are already making the trip to Death Valley from Las Vegas, why not extend your trip to experience some epic stargazing! This magical location is known for having the darkest night sky and attracts stargazers from all around the world. 

⭐️ To book your day trip of Death Valley sights, a sunset, and stargazing you can go here.

4 Day Death Valley, Yosemite, San Francisco from Las Vegas

This 4-day tour has it all! If you have more time, book the ultimate trip exploring Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, the Sierra Mountains in Yosemite, and the bustling city of San Francisco.

You will experience all of the wonders of Death Valley, hike trails in Yosemite, and a city tour in San Francisco. Enjoy this 4 day trip from Las Vegas with a knowledgeable and fun tour guide. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are also included.

⭐️ Book your epic trip to Death Valley, Yosemite, and San Francisco here.

How to Get to Death Valley: The Closest Airport

Where do you fly into for Death Valley? The closest major airport to Death Valley is Las Vegas McCarran Airport (LAS). The distance from McCarran Airport to Death Valley is 120 miles, and the drive time is approximately 2-2.5 hours.

🚗  To rent a car to drive to Death Valley from McCarran Airport you can go here. 

How Do you Get Into Death Valley

There are a couple of entrances to get into the national park, and choosing the correct one for your road trip depends on what direction you are coming from. The two main entrances to Death Valley are at Death Valley Junction and at Panamint Springs. 

Death Valley Entrance Payment

In-person payment of the park entrance fee by credit card or cash may be done at these locations during business hours:

  • Furnace Creek Visitor Center
  • Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station
  • Lone Pine Interagency Visitor Center

The other option of payment of park entrance fees is using a credit card at one of the many 24/7 kiosks. This is the more convenient option, especially if you are limited on time. You can find these kiosks at some of the popular locations such as:

  • Furnace Creek Visitor Center
  • Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station
  • Grapevine Ranger Station
  • Ryan Kiosk (east entrance to park on Hwy 190)
  • Zabriskie Point
  • Badwater

Death Valley Entrance Fee

The Death Valley entrance fee is $30 per vehicle for a 7-day period from the date of purchase. This permit allows all persons traveling with the permit holder in one single private, non-commercial vehicle (car/truck/van) to leave and re-enter the park as many times as they wish during those 7 days.

Death Valley Annual Pass

The annual pass is $55.00 and provides free entrance to Death Valley for 12 months from the date of purchase

America the Beautiful Annual Pass

$80 yearly pass covering entrance and standard amenity fees for national parks and other federal fee areas for 12 months from time of purchase. America the Beautiful Annual Pass easily pays for itself if you plan on visiting two or more national parks in a year.

How to Get to Death Valley: Tips for Driving to Death Valley

Is Driving in Death Valley Safe?

Yes, it is safe to travel to Death Valley National Park. However, there are a couple of things you can do to be prepared for your trip to Death Valley.

How to Prepare Your Car

If you didn’t know this already, Death Valley is enormous! Death Valley National Park is over 3 million acres of land and nearly 1,000 miles of paved and dirt roads.

Before your road trip, make sure your car is well maintained. Get your oil changed, check your tire pressure, and make sure you have a spare tire available just in case of a flat.

Most of the roads that take you to see the popular sights in Death Valley are paved and easy to navigate with two-wheel drive. However, if you plan to do some off-roading to visit the Racetrack Playa, good tires, 4-wheel drive, and high clearance are required.

Gas Stations in Death Valley

Be aware of your gas tank at all times while driving in Death Valley. There are only three gas stations in the entire national park. If you happen to run out of gas, it is extremely expensive and time-consuming to get a tow.

If you happen to be staying outside of the national park, I highly recommend filling up your gas tank before entering Death Valley, whether you need it or not. You will be starting your day of exploring with a full tank of gas and will save money because gas is very pricey in Death Valley.

In my post: Gas Stations in Death Valley: Tips For Your Road Trip discover where the gas stations are located in Death Valley, where to get cheaper gas nearby, can you charge your electric car in Death Valley, and more tips to help you have the best and safest trip to Death Valley National Park.

Cell Service in Death Valley National Park

You will not have cell service inside of Death Valley. I suggest downloading your map and travel itinerary before your trip.

However, if you do need to use your phone while you are in the park, you will get some service from the hotels, Furnace Creek, and Stovepipe.

Is it Safe to Visit Death Valley in the Summer?

Summer temperatures in the desert often top 120°F, so driving to visit Death Valley in the summer requires some additional safety planning.

You need to check that your car’s cooling system and tires are prepared for the summer heat. If your vehicle does not have working air conditioning, visiting Death Valley in the summer is not an option. 

Throughout Death Valley, you might notice signs to turn off your AC for the next stretch of miles. That is for the summer months to prevent your car from overheating. 

Pack Plenty of Water

When traveling to Death Valley, you must pack plenty of water for your road trip. We brought a cooler full of water and still felt like we could have used more. If you are running low on water, you can purchase it at the gas stations and general stores inside of the park.

Is Death Valley Worth the Drive

Death Valley looks like it is from another planet! It is so unique and otherworldly that everyone should try to visit Death Valley at least once in a lifetime.

The honeycomb salt flats, multi-hued mountains, massive dunes, and breathing taking views of the basin from Dantes View are some of the many reasons why Death Valley is worth the drive. A trip to Death Valley National Park is an experience you will not forget.

What to Do in Death Valley

There are many incredible hikes, drives, and things to do and see in Death Valley National Park. However, the main attractions in Death Valley are Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, Dantes View, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Ubehebe Crater, Artist Drive, and Devils Golf Course.

how to get to death valley: Artist Palette

For a complete and epic itinerary for Death Valley, you can hop over to my post-Death Valley in One Day: Don’t Make These 6 Mistakes. There you can find some valuable tips and a guide for visiting Death Valley National Park.

Where to Stay in Death Valley

There are plenty of options of places to stay in Death Valley or outside of the national park. When we went to Death Valley, we stayed in Beatty, Nevada, which is 7 miles from the entrance of Death Valley and about an hour from the major sights.

Top things to do Beatty, Nevada

However, if you want to stay inside the national park, there are four hotels in Death Valley for you to choose from:

The Oasis at Death Valley has two hotels, The Ranch and The Inn.

where to stay in death valley: The Ranch at Death Valley

The Ranch at Death Valley is a family-friendly option of places to stay in Death Valley. They offer a ton of fun amenities, such as an outdoor pool, tennis and basketball courts, a playground, horseback rides, fire pits, two restaurants, an ice cream parlor, and more.

Where to stay in Death Valley: The Inn at Death Valley

The Inn at Death Valley is your best option for a luxury hotel and the most expensive hotel for your stay in the national park. There you can spend your afternoons at the spa, outdoor pool, gorgeous gardens, or admiring the stunning views of the Panamint Mountains.

Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel offers a simple and comfortable stay at one of their 83 motel rooms. Amenities at the hotel include a swimming pool, a western saloon, a restaurant, a general store, and a gift shop.

Panamint Springs is a budget-friendly option of places to stay in Death Valley. It offers a rustic stay at their western-style motel and has the basics of everything you need for your stay.

When is The Best Time to Visit Death Valley

The best time of year to visit Death Valley is between mid-October to mid-May. Death Valley is the hottest place in the world! During the summer months, temperatures can average around 113 degrees Fahrenheit and often will get as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Death Valley National Park is open year-round, so you can visit in the summer months. If you do go to Death Valley in the summer, start your days off early to avoid the extreme temperatures, pack lots of water, and hiking and camping are not recommended.

Spring is the busy season in Death Valley. We visited during California’s spring break and it was very difficult to find lodging. All of the hotels inside the national park were sold out and very limited rooms at hotels in nearby cities. If you do plan on visiting during the high season, book your accommodations as soon as possible or be prepared to stay outside of Death Valley.

If you want to avoid crowds and the summer heat, your best option for the time of year to visit Death Valley is in the winter. The winter is a great time to visit, however, be prepared for less daylight and chilly mornings and nights. You can find tips for visiting Death Valley in the winter here.

What to Pack For Death Valley + Packing List

Whether you plan on seeing Death Valley from your car, or by hiking trails, here are some of the essentials you do not want to forget for your Death Valley road trip.

Below is our packing list from Death Valley, and a couple of extra things that I wish we had.

Dog friendly Dantes View death valley

Death Valley Packing Checklist

When you are road tripping to Death Valley there are a couple of essential items that you must have for your trip.

  • Hiking or comfortable shoes for walking trails
  • Thermoregulating hiking socks: are perfect for hot days and cool nights.
  • Sweat-wicking shirts: a must when hiking or exploring Death Valley
  • Lightweight hiking pants or leggings
  • Long sleeve pullover 1/4 zip: Layers are important with the temperature fluctuations.
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun hat
  • Cooler to keep your fluids and food extra cold. We like this one for road trips. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and its quality is comparable to yeti, but not as expensive.
  • Water—at least one gallon per person per day
  • Hydration backpack or waterjug
  • Food and snacks
  • Day pack
  • Spare tire
  • Jumper cables: In case of an emergency. It is extremely expensive to get a tow from the national park
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Pocketknife
  • Download Gaia or ALLTrails for hiking maps

For More Death Valley Content on TTWT

Where to Stay in Death Valley: A Must-Read Guide
Death Valley in One Day: Don’t Make These 6 Mistakes
Taking Your Dogs to Death Valley National Park: Is it Worth it?
Top 10 Things to do in Beatty, NV: Including a Ghost Town!

Gas Stations in Death Valley: Tips For Your Road Trip
Does it Snow in Death Valley

In Conclusion: How to Get to Death Valley

Death Valley may not be the easiest location to reach. However, as you can see, it is so worth the extra planning and road trip. I hope this guide on how to get to Death Valley has provided you with many helpful tips to plan your epic trip to this one-of-a-kind destination!