If you love exploring the outdoors, I bet you’ve probably hiked a forest trail, driven through a patchwork of farmland, camped near a massive water body, or climbed a mountain—all dazzling. But have you ever visited a land of pure extremes? If you’re yet to, find the perfect rental RV and head to Death Valley National Park.
Known as one of planet earth’s most inhospitable places, thanks to its steady drought and record-shattering heat, Death Valley is a must-visit natural wonder. Beneath its ruggedness lies a great diversity of life and beautiful scenery that will give you a fresh perspective of life. Let’s take a drive through its history, best spots, activities, campgrounds, and much more.
A Brief History of Death Valley National Park
Lying across the California and Nevada border, Death Valley national park is a distinct wonder of scorching deserts, jagged mountains, and mystifying salt flats. It’s the largest national park outside Alaska, covering over 3.3 million acres. It holds the world record for hottest air temperature ever recorded—a thermometer bursting 134 degrees recorded in 1913. It also holds another claim to fame—the driest and lowest point in the United States.
10,000 years ago, the park was home to Native Americans. Back then, the climate was gentle, and the land was teeming with large game. When the temperatures rose and the lakes evaporated, human settlements disappeared. In 1849, a group of European pioneers got lost in the area and dubbed it the Death Valley after barely making it out. Half a century later, there was a mini gold rush in the area, but the communities turned into ghost towns after the mines dried up. Today, Death Valley is a popular destination for filmmakers, hikers, RV travelers, bikers, bird watchers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.
What’s the Best Time to Visit Death Valley in an RV?
There are plenty of indoor and outdoor activities all year round across the park. However, spring and fall are considered the best times to visit as temperatures are much more manageable. Summer daytime temperatures can get as high as 120 degrees, limiting outdoor activities. Luckily, visiting Death Valley in a home on wheels will shelter you from the scorching sun and allow you to explore more of the park on your own schedule.
Getting to Death Valley National Park in a Rental RV
Rent an RV in Los Angeles and drive 258 miles to the park’s entrance. And if you’re renting an RV in Las Vegas, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour trip to the park. For RV enthusiast, there are nearly 1000 miles of paved and dirt roads which provide access to popular spots and primitive sites. And a good number of these roads are RV friendly.
What Activities can RVers Do in Death Valley National Park?
The extreme nature of this Death Valley makes it worth visiting. There are magnificent natural attractions spanning the park from desert wildflower blooms, lush oases, canyons, snow-capped peaks to the extraordinary Devil’s Hole Pupfish. You can explore natural hot springs, hike through the desert backcountry, watch migrating birds, listen to singing dunes, or gaze at the nighttime sky. Here are some of the best activities.
Sightseeing RV Tour
If you’re looking to adventure as much of Death Valley as you can, take an RV trip. A good place to start is Furnace Creek Visitor Center, where friendly park rangers will provide you information about attractions in the park and RV size restrictions. Some spectacular RV accessible spots include:
● Devils Golf Course – A huge area full of unusual rocks sculpted by the elements and a striking large salt pan.
● Badwater Basin – Visit this vast salt flat that sits below sea level.
● Dantes view – It’s the primary overlook of the park and it gives you panoramic views of the valley below.
● Zabriskie Point – Another famous viewing area where you can see rolling desert terrain and many well-known summits.
When temperatures permit, you can hike one of the hundreds of trails in the park. The Golden Canyon hiking trail is moderate and famous for its towering red rock formations. For some jaw-dropping view of high sand dunes, hike in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. If you are looking for a tranquil hike, head to Darwin falls, a desert oasis with lush springs, shady trees, and waterfalls.
Take a Bike Tour
If you love to bring your bike to every RV trip, you won’t be disappointed in Death Valley. There are so many trails crisscrossing the desolate yet magnificent park. Whether you prefer dirt, gravel, rocky, or paved trails, you’re guaranteed an unforgettable experience. You’ll bike through colorful mountains and sandy dunes with breathtaking backdrops all around you.
Death Valley is home to a large number of bird species including Loggerhead Shrikes, Roadrunners, Cactus Wren, and Mountain Bluebird. Some are permanent residents, others come here to breed, while others only make brief stops at the desert oases. Best birding spots include Saratoga Spring oasis, Furnace Creek Ranch, and Scotty’s Castle.
Death valley is a haven for hobby astronomers and stargazers. Its dark and unpolluted sky offers incredible star-watching opportunities. If you’re lucky enough to visit when there is a sky program, you’ll get to peep into a telescope.
RV Campground Options in Death Valley
There are nine National Park campgrounds in Death Valley and three privately owned and operated. Let’s check out the most suitable ones for your rental RV.
● Furnace Creek Campground – It’s one of the best RV campgrounds in the park and it’s open all year. When you want a guaranteed RV spot, consider this place as it’s the only bookable campground. It has 136 campsites, and it offers water, sewer, and power hookups plus picnic tables.
● Sunset Campground – Open between late fall to early spring, this campground doesn’t have hookups. However, there is running water, a dump station, and flush toilets. RVs of all sizes can park here.
● Texas Spring Campground – Located near Furnace Creek and open from November to May. It has 92 first come first served campsites, most of which allow RVs. It offers amenities such as potable water, a dump station, picnic furniture, and fire pits.
● Mesquite Spring Campground – Located in the northern part of the Death Valley, this peaceful campground is open all year long and has 40 campsites that accommodate even large RVs. It lacks hookups but has running water, a dump station, and barbecue pits. And you can also bring your pet RVing.
Private Owned RV Campgrounds
● Stovepipe Wells Campground – This privately owned campground is adjacent to a general store, making it popular with RVers. The RV fee gives you access to 14 full hookups, a swimming pool, and even Wi-Fi in the hotel lobby.
● Fiddler’s Campground – It’s private-run, and it has 35 full-hookup RV campsites. If you are looking for a more luxurious place, this campground gives you access to a spring-fed pool, hot showers, and outdoor games. It’s also located near restaurants and a golf course.
An Extreme Land Perfect for RVing
Whether you are an experienced RVer or a beginner planning to rent an RV for the first time, Death Valley has something for every kind of adventurer. Just make sure you plan your visit around the cooler months.