This post is part of Just Ahead’s Death Valley Trip Planner—our guide to everything you need to know to plan your trip to Death Valley National Park. Click here to see the complete series, and be sure to download our Just Ahead smartphone audio tour of Death Valley before you head to the park.
Before you decide how much time to spend in Death Valley National Park, it’s good to be aware of two things: First, Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower 48 American states (yes, bigger than Yellowstone). Second, Death Valley is remote. That’s a huge part of its appeal. It’s at least 2-1/2 hours from Las Vegas, five hours from Los Angeles, eight hours from San Francisco.
It would be a shame to drive such a distance and spend less than a day in such a huge, magnificent park. But we understand that everyone has their own way and their own schedule, so here’s our rundown of what you can do and see in Death Valley in the amount of time you might have. Remember, no matter how much time you have or what approach you take to the park, Just Ahead will guide you every step of the way.
Death Valley in Less Than a Day
We understand that you’ll see some of the park as you approach, and that there are several different approaches, so take these as general guidelines. And remember that the order in which you see things isn’t important.
If you’re simply doing a drive-through, you’ll want to beeline to Furnace Creek in the heart of the park—the hub of Death Valley’s road spokes. Spend 45 minutes in the visitor center to get oriented, see the exhibits, perhaps see the park’s film. Drive down to Badwater and experience the lowest place in North America. Turn around at Badwater and take the scenic Artist Drive on the way back up. Then head east on Highway 190 and take in the awesome views from Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View.