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Death Valley (5 hours from LA)

Los Angeles, California, USA


Death Valley is a fascinating place to visit. Here, one of the hottest and driest places on earth, unlucky travelers throughout history often became lost, sealing them in a hellish fate. Death Valley is actually below sea level, way below! Here, salt from the sea has formed huge balls of white. Other geological formations include sand dunes, slot canyons, and colored cliffs.
You can see many things in just one full day at Death Valley. Take a walk among the lovely sand dunes just south of Stovepipe Wells Motel. Just park along the road and start your walk anywhere among them. You can drive to Badwater Basin, the lowest place in the western hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level! Note the marking on the cliffs that shows where sea level is- way above you! The lost travelers must have been so disappointed when they saw water here and then realized it was "bad water."
Don't miss Devil's Golf Course (see photo above), an astounding field full of salt formations. Kids will LOVE this! Put on sunscreen because there is no such thing as shade in a place with no trees! Late afternoon is the best time to drive through Artist's Drive past Artist's Palette and enjoy the greens, purples, yellows, and oranges of sandy cliffs. Lovely!
Also wonderful is to walk through the narrow openings in Golden Canyon for a mile until you get to the Red Cathedral trailhead. Then a quarter mile in, you see the steep impressive cliffs of Red Cathedral.
For a walk that can be shady some times of day depending on the sun's direction, walk the marvelous slot canyon, Mosaic Canyon. The archway in the sandstone is beautiful and it's a fairly short uphill hike.
Furnace Creek Inn is a groovy historic Mission-style hotel where you can stop to have an expensive lunch or dinner and walk the well-watered lush grounds, looking up at the date palms. The town of Death Valley is an interesting, if not touristy, place. Here you can meet and marvel at people who live here in the 120 degree weather. It's amazing that people actually lived here in the decades before air conditioning! You can stop and let your kids check out the trinkets in the tourist shops.
Visit in winter when it's not as hot as other times of year. It'll be very cold at night and hot in the day. Stovepipe Wells is a clean basic motel that makes for a good base.
From Death Valley by car it's 5 hours to Los Angeles (Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia is on the way) and 3-4 hours to Las Vegas.

Photo Gallery

The dunes, along the road just south of Stovepipe Wells.

The bad water at Badwater.

Badwater, with distant snowy Sierra Nevada mountains behind.

The amazing slot canyon, Mosaic Canyon.

Great hike in Mosaic Canyon.

View across the massive expanse that is Death Valley, as seen from Mosaic Canyon.

A tiny sign of life, in an otherwise stark place.

Salt formations at Devil's Golf Course up close.

Mineral deposits color the hills at Artist's Palette.

Artist's Palette, where mineral deposits have left swaths of green, red, pink, orange, and purple on the hills.

Red Cathedral in Golden Canyon.

The high cliffs of Red Cathedral.

Steep crevices in Golden Canyon.

Incredible rock formation in Golden Canyon.

Date palms at Furnace Creek Inn!

Furnace Creek Inn has nice grounds to walk around.


This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.

Stovepipe Wells Hotel is located at 51880 Highway 190, Death Valley CA 92328, call (760) 786-2387.
From Los Angeles, take Highway 5 north, Highway 14 north for 117 miles, Highway 395 north for 41 miles, and then Highway 190 east for 75 miles to Stovepipe Wells.

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