As a full-time RV'er, Stephanie writes about many natural wonders to be found in the U.S. National Parks and Monuments are her favorites.
About Death Valley
Death Valley National Park, on the California/Nevada border, is well known for encompassing the Badwater area. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater is the lowest point in North America. Death Valley is also known for its extreme summer heat, when daytime temperatures can reach 120°F, and its extremely dry climate.
However, there is much more to Death Valley National Park for those who are interested in exploring its diversity. Visit in the winter months for pleasant temperatures and sunny days, and explore the badlands with ever-changing colors, see the snow-capped mountains, and enjoy the wildflower bloom. Below, I will discuss RV camping in Death Valley National Park and share photographs of some of the highlights of this most fascinating place.
RV Camping in Death Valley National Park
RV camping in Death Valley in the pleasant winter months is a wonderful way to enjoy the park. Since Death Valley has an average rainfall of less than 2" annually, you can usually expect sunny weather and comfortable temperatures in the winter months. RV camping in the Death Valley National Park campgrounds is low cost and allows you to be within easy driving distance of the most interesting points in the park.
Of the nine campgrounds in Death Valley National Park, six are suitable for RV camping. While they do not have RV hookups, generator use is allowed in all but the Texas Springs campground. (A great place for tenting and for those RVers who would like a quieter setting. Most campgrounds have drinking water available, restrooms with flush toilets, and a dump station. Furnace Creek Campground is the only one that will accept reservations. (Call 1-877-444-6777). There is a 14-day limit at Furnace Creek Campground. Other Death Valley National Park campgrounds have a 30-day limit.
All the other National Park campgrounds are on a first-come, first-served basis. You can check the National Park Recreation database for updated information on particular parks.
Do check at the National Park Visitor Center for up-to-date camping information!
RV-Friendly Campgrounds at Death Valley National Park
National Park Campgrounds
Prices listed are eligible for the America the Beautiful Senior Discount.
- Furnace Creek: Open all year*. Elevation 196 below sea level. Suitable for any size RVs or tents. $18. (*Check with park service for details.)
- Sunset Campground: Open Oct-Apr. Elevation 196 below sea level. Suitable for any size RVs or tents. $12.
- Texas Spring Campground: Open Oct-Apr. The elevation is at sea level. A limited number of RV sites. No generators are allowed. $14.
- Stovepipe Wells Campground: Open Oct-Apr. The elevation is at sea level. RV and tent sites. $12.
- Mesquite Spring Campground: Open all year. Elevation 1800 ft. RV and tent sites. $12.
- Wildrose Campground: Open all year. Elevation 4100 ft. No drinking water. RV and tent sites. Free.
We stayed at Sunset Campground during our visit to Death Valley. It is basically a huge flat parking area, but it is convenient to visit many of the sights in the Furnace Creek area. It was also easy to do day trips to almost any of the other areas of the park.
There are three other National Park campgrounds that are suitable for tents and may require high-clearance vehicles to access.
If you want to camp where there are RV hookups, there is one concession-run campground in Death Valley: Stovepipe Wells RV Park. There is also a private RV park, Panamint Springs Resort, that has full hookups. These two privately run campgrounds can fill up during the busy season, so be sure to check for availability before heading out.
Read More From Skyaboveus
Gas and Food in Death Valley
Plan ahead before heading out from your campground or hotel on a day trip!
Death Valley is a wonderful place to explore and there are many interesting day trips to do once you have settled on a campground to serve as your base. Be forewarned that there are only a few places to get gas and food, so be sure to start out with a full tank of gas, and pack a picnic lunch, snacks and plenty to drink before starting out.
When you are planning to RV camp at Death Valley, be sure to bring groceries and staples to last through your stay as there are only limited groceries available in the park.
Gas is available at Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Furnace Creek, Beatty, Nevada and Tonopah, Nevada. Scotty’s Castle does sell snacks and sandwiches, but not gas.
Death Valley Trivia
- In 1996 there were 40 days when the temperature was 120°.
- In the summer of 2001 there were 154 days with temperatures over 100°.
- The highest ground temperature recorded at Furnace Creek on July 15, 1972 was 201° with a maximum air temperature of 128° that day.
- In 1953, no rainfall was recorded at the Greenland Ranch weather station.
- The name "Death Valley" was given to the area by a group of pioneers who became lost and thought they would die there. When they were rescued and led to safety, the story goes that one of them said, "Goodbye, Death Valley." The name stuck.
Places Worth Seeing in Death Valley National Park
Enjoy this picture gallery and virtual tour of Death Valley's beauty and history.
Artist's Palette and Artist's Drive
Late afternoon sun brings out the beautiful colors along Artist’s Drive. At the parking area, we stop to admire the view of Artist’s Palette. Here many colored pigments from volcanic deposits, iron salts and mica have painted the hills in a rainbow of colors. I snap many photographs as the changing light and shadows bring out different colors. When we got home, it’s hard to believe that these views are real…but they are!
As the sun goes down, we continue on the drive, stopping occasionally to get out of the Jeep and admire the nearby hills as well as the distant views of snow-capped mountains.
Located in the Furnace Creek area, Zabriskie Point is a maze of eroded badlands. Here is one of the most famous views in Death Valley. The colors are astonishing, particularly at sunset and sunrise when the angled sunlight lights up the colors. There is a parking area and the viewpoint is only a short walk up the hill. Be sure to wear closed-toe shoes for this walk, as loose gravel can make walking in sandals or flip flops uncomfortable.
Typical of the diversity of Death Valley National Park, Dante’s view is one of the high points of the park at 5,000 feet above the valley. The winding road to the top of the mountain leads to a spectacular view of Death Valley. Don’t try this in your RV as the road has hairpin turns and is only open to vehicles less than 25 ft. in length.
In the distance, you can see the Panamint Mountains towering above the valley, often with snowy caps. The highest mountain in Death Valley, Telescope Peak, rises 11,049 feet above the lowest point in the park, creating yet another dramatic contrast in Death Valley.
Badwater is the lowest point in North America, 282 feet below sea level. Here the summer air temperatures will rise to 120°F and above while the ground temperature on the salt flats can be much higher. When there are heavy rainstorms, a temporary lake might form on the salt flats, but it will disappear quickly.
Scotty's Castle at Death Valley
This beautiful Spanish-style mansion is named after prospector, Walter Scott, “Death Valley Scotty,” who claimed that he built the castle from gold from secret gold mines. Actually, it was built by his friend, Albert Mussey Johnson, as a vacation home during the 1920’s. Tours of the castle are available for a fee of $11-15 per person for adults. Pass-holder and children’s fees are lower. You must take a tour in order to see the inside of the house.
Wildflowers and Plants
There are over 1000 different kinds of plants growing in Death Valley and 50 of them are endemic, unique to Death Valley. Occasionally, the winter rains will be heavier than normal, creating the right conditions for a spectacular wildflower bloom. This happened in 1996 and 2005. Even in average years, the months of February and March will bring out wildflowers in the desert, along the roadsides and nestled among the stones and rocks. We happened to be there when wildflowers were just starting to bloom, and enjoyed finding them in unexpected places. Many of the flowers are very tiny, and can easily be overlooked if you are driving. Do get out and walk some of the trails, but be careful where you step!
Harmony Borax Works
Borax was found in Furnace Creek (previously named Greenland) in 1881. The Harmony Borax Works was built by William t. Coleman. There, in 1884, the borax ore was processed by a workforce of 40 men who produced 3 tons of borax every day. However, the summer temperatures were so hot, the processing water would not cool enough to allow the borax crystals to form, and the plant was eventually moved out of the valley. The most daunting task was getting the borax out of Death Valley and through the Mojave desert by wagons pulled by mule teams. This is how the 20-mule team borax became the famous symbol of the borax industry. Today the remains of the Harmony Borax works still stand and visitors to Death Valley can see the wagons and parts of the plant at the original town site which has been placed on the Register of Historic Places.
Wildrose Charcoal Kilns
The beehive shape of the well-preserved charcoal kilns is a unique sight. The 25 ft. high kilns were buildt to produce charcoal used in the processing of lead and silver from nearby mines. It is believed that the kilns were only in operation for a short time before another source of fuel was found. Although the actual settlement, if there was one, has disappeared, the ten charcoal kilns stand in perfect condition.
Monthly Temperature and Rainfall Table for Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park
Hope You Enjoyed the Virtual Tour
I hope you've enjoyed this virtual tour of some of the amazing sights at Death Valley National Park. When you are able to camp here with your RV and visit in person, you will find many more beautiful and exciting places to see and explore.
Have You Been to Death Valley?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2012 Stephanie Henkel
Have You Enjoyed Your Virtual Visit? Please Leave a Comment!
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on October 15, 2017:
We have always owned our own RV, so do not have experience with RV rental agencies. Perhaps you can find some good feedback on RV review sites? We see a lot of Cruise America rentals on the road, but don't have any recommendations. Have a wonderful time on your US tour! We've been to Death Valley several times and have always enjoyed the beautiful scenery and diversity of the park.
Kate on October 15, 2017:
Hi Stephanie, we are planning our first RV hire and trip in the USA and would love to visit Death Valley, this early Nov for 12 to 14 days. We had a camper van until quite recently and would often go for long European trips (up 3 months) so are fully into full-time RV cruising. We are getting snowed under with info regarding the reliability of RV hire companies and would greatly appreciate any words of wisdom from yourself or any other skyaboveus contributor. Love you article which has really wetted our appetite..
Debbie on October 10, 2016:
Sounds wonderful. Thanks for all the useful information.
Don Bobbitt from Ruskin Florida on April 18, 2016:
This year we're going to do a East Coat Loop up to VA and back down for a few months. Got the motorhome ready, but I just had one minor knee surgery, and I need another bigger one on my shoulder.
Imagine me hooking up and unhooking across country with one functioning arm! LOL! Hoping, AGAIN to head out after my my new shoulder.
An aging camper is a sad thing to watch sometimes, but at least I dress well for my travels! LOL!
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 18, 2016:
fpherk48 - Well, I'm just fine, Paula! Our country's national parks are all so beautiful. We love visiting them, and I love to feature them on my hubs. This week, admission is free for National Parks. It's a great opportunity to visit one. Thanks for your comments -- it's always great to hear from you!
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on April 18, 2016:
Paul Kuehn - Thanks for your comments, Paul. If you visit Las Vegas again, Death Valley is about a 2 hour drive from there. It's a long day trip, but there is a lot you could see. Death Valley is about 120 miles long, with many outstanding features to see. I hope you are able to visit someday.
Suzie from Carson City on April 17, 2016:
Hello Stephanie. How's our Queen of Campers? This is an especially fascinating read and the photos are simply breathtaking! You've done a wonderful job of encouraging travel & camping to Death Valley National Park. I'm sure other campers have found this exciting! Paula
Bill De Giulio from Massachusetts on April 17, 2016:
Stephanie, what a beautiful place. Wonderful job with this hub. I love the names; Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Dante's View, Devils Golf Course. Will have to add this to my list of places to get to. Love the photos.
Paul Richard Kuehn from Udorn City, Thailand on April 17, 2016:
Hi Stephanie! This is an absolutely fantastic hub with great accompanying pictures. The closest I have been to Death Valley is Las Vegas and that was in 2000 and 2001. Out of curiosity, what is the average distance across Death Valley? I can appreciate how hot Death Valley is during the summer because the average temperatures in Udonthani in northeastern Thailand where I now live have been 106/85 during the past week and it is only the middle of April here! It would really be nice to tour Death Valley when I am in the southwestern part of the U.S. again now that I have your guide. I am sharing this hub with HP followers and on Facebook.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 23, 2015:
Availiasvision - Zabriski's point is one of my favorite places in Death Valley National Park. It's particularly beautiful at sunset when the late afternoon light enhances the colors of the rocks. Yes, I did add picture dividers to my hub using the photo capsure. Hubpages doesn't necessarily approve of this, but I like to use dividers sometimes, and I've kept them in this hub. I'm glad you like them.
Stephanie Henkel (author) from USA on January 23, 2015:
Marcy Goodfleisch - There is so much to see in Death Valley National Park, it's certainly worth a trip. If you are camping, plan to go in the cooler months for a more enjoyable experience. Temperatures in the late spring, summer and fall can be quite hot! Have fun!
Jennifer Arnett from California on January 23, 2015:
What a lovely group of pictures. Death Valley is so