Death Valley National Park in a Day

A 5 day vacation means finding as many National Parks I can drive to, from Portland, and trying to see as much as I can see in those 5 days. This resulted in a day (at most) in each National Park I visited. Here is how I spent 24 hours in Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley National Park is the lowest and hottest place in North America. Mountains and deserts make up Death Valley, which is located in California and Nevada. I was very impressed with Death Valley and it definitely makes my favorite national parks list.

I arrived in Death Valley as the sun was setting and drove around some of the park to get an idea of where I wanted to shoot some night photography. Several hours later, I had visited a few places to get some good astrophotography shots in.

Devil’s Golf Course at Night



Only a few miles from Badwater, crystalized minerals reacting with groundwater have lifted themselves into tightly packed ridges and globules up to 2 feet high, creating Devil’s Golf Course. I did not visit this during the day.

Badwater Basin at Night



Artist’s Drive at Night


After playing around for several hours, I decided to get a few hours of shut eye,  before waking up for the sunrise. I chose Zabriskie Point for a breathtaking sunrise.

Zabriskie Point at Sunrise


A short hike took me to Zabriskie Point. It was hard to break away from that view, but as the people start trickeling in, I decided to move on.


Badwater – The Lowest Point in North America


Badwater is the lowest place in North America, 282 feet below sea water. It is along Badwater Road.


Badwater Basin

After taking a moment to snap a photo with the 282 feet below sea level sign, I walked onto the vast Badwater basin floor until I could barely see the sign.  A vast, cracked, parched-looking, bright white salt flat was all around me.


Artists Drive

Artists Drive is a one way scenic loop off Badwater Road, which allowed me to get awesome views of the side canyons whose minerals shine in shades of ocher, red and tan. I parked the car for a short mile or so walk up the unnamed canyon, which narrowed and I could not go any further without rock climbing gear.

Artists Palette



Artists Palette lies at the end of Artists Drive. A very easy, short walk led me to rock faces that are painted in reddish shades as well as in lavender and blue.

Golden Canyon


In the late afternoon, I walked along the popular nature walks of Golden Canyon, but went just beyond stop number 10, and came across a 400 foot, red fluted wall, known as Red Cathedral. The sun was slowly shining onto brilliant red on the rock wall.


Dantes View


Dantes View stares nearly 6,000 feet straight down onto Badwater. It is a 14 mile windy drive off of the main road. Be very careful of bicyclists around the corners.



Unfortunately, a day is all of time I had to explore Death Valley National Park. I cannot wait to go back to explore more of the park!

2 thoughts on “Death Valley National Park in a Day

  1. Hi, I was wondering if it would be possible to get permission to use one or your photos in my book? Specifically the one with the sign in the basin at night?

    Thank you!

    David Clark


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