6 Must-See Magical Photos Stops in Death Valley

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With autumn approaching, it’s the best time for sightseeing in Death Valley, where the temperatures can be extreme, to say the least. The highest temperature in the entire world was recorded at Furnace Creek at 134°F in 1913.   Even fall can see very warm temperatures, but as long as you are prepared, Death Valley National Park is a unique and fun destination.

Covering nearly 3.4 million acres, Death Valley is the largest national park in the United States. The park is located in the states of California and Nevada, east of the Sierra Nevada.

Dante’s View

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At more than 5000 ft. above the valley floor, the view here is considered to be the most stunning vista in Death Valley. There is a ridge along the top, which combined with the cooler temperatures and breezed at that height, as well as the panoramic 110 mile-long view, make it a popular location for short walks and photo ops of the Badwater Basin far below.

Artist’s Drive

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This is a 9-mile, one-way drive, dipping, curving and looping through ravines and colorful craggy volcanic hills. The section called “Artist’s Palette” is not to be missed from late afternoon to dusk when the light splashes off the mineral hills, making them appear iridescent yellow, green, coral and blue.

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Zabriskie Point

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The word to describe this place at sunset… spectacular. A bit windy, but worth the short uphill walk, the view is otherworldly as you look down on the vibrant labyrinth of badlands.

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Zabriskie Point will always have a special place in my heart. Just four months after my horrible, near-death South African car crash, this was my first foray into traveling again. To get to the viewpoint would take a ¼ mile walk to the crest, which may not seem like much, but with my newly-healed pelvic fractures and steel plates holding my left femur together, it looked daunting from my perspective. But I was not going to miss this famous viewpoint! So with crutch in hand, I slowly and carefully began the ascent, stopping at a rest-bench (bless you, park rangers!) at the halfway mark. I am nothing if not tenacious, and by Job, I did it! One huge milestone and an almost immeasurable sense of accomplishment and future motivator.

Badwater Basin

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At 282 feet below sea level, the shimmering basin is the lowest point, not just in Death Valley, but in all of North America. With the Black Mountains in the background, you can walk out on the bone-dry, slippery salt flats. In the winter, the flats become a temporary pond that is four times saltier than the ocean.

Ubehebe Crater

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Looking down from the rim of this amazing site, it’s hard to believe it was created just 2000 years ago by a loud volcanic steam explosion. The 600 foot deep crater was what remained. There are three major trails at the crater. Winds at the rim of the crater can be strong with gusts above 50 mph.

Scotty’s Castle

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In the northern area of Death Valley, just a short drive from Death Valley National Park is Scotty’s Castle. “Death Valley Scotty” was a con man who claimed he built the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival style villa from gold from his mine. However, it was nothing more than an elaborate but clever hoax. The estate belonged to wealthy friends, and he used it to scam unwitting investors into giving him money for his gold prospecting scheme.

Safety Measures

Death Valley is an amazingly beautiful place, worthy of a weekend of auto touring and/or hiking. Be sure to take plenty of water – perspiration on a 110°F day will wick away about one liter of water per hour – even more if you’re hiking. Lightweight, protective clothing, sunglasses and hats are also a key to health and comfort.


  1. Wow, it is so barren and yet so beautiful! Great photos, really makes us want to see it for ourselves someday.
    The GypsyNesters recently posted…Biking Our Way Through Sicily – Follow Along with Us!My Profile

  2. You are a bright light in a sparse but beautiful landscape. Death Valley looks quite eerie.
    Paula McInerney recently posted…A 10 Day Road Trip Around Tropical North QueenslandMy Profile

  3. We stayed in the campground in Death Valley in April. While it was hot but not too hot in the daytime, it dipped below freezing at night. Our water bottles froze! I vividly remember looking out our tent flap one evening in a very strong wind and seeing another tent fly by, with several people chasing after it!
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    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Wow, that’s windy! I was in Death Valley during the month of September, and it was windy at night but it felt warm and comfy.

  4. I LOVE Death Valley. Your images catch the highlights. I have some other shots and additional info in an article that you and your readers might find interesting, http://berkeleyandbeyond.com/Way-Beyond/Travel-Articles/U_S_A_/Death-Valley/death-valley.html

  5. We got to Needles a few weeks ago- and I was tempted to go on to Death Valley- would love to see it but our clothing and everything else was hours away so we stayed with Plan A. Zabriskie Point makes me think of the Antonioni movie from the late 60s. Your post made me a bit sorry we didn’t get there- thought it was an unseasonably hot day and we probably would have fried.
    Billie Frank recently posted…Exploring Palo Duro CanyonMy Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Surprisingly, even though it was September and pretty hot, it was bearable. Plenty of water is a must. And at night, the warm breezes were heavenly!

  6. These places in Death Valley certainly look magical. I love the colours in the rocks. Badwater Basin fascinates me – I had no idea you could find a place that far below sea level in the U.S. I want to visit some day.
    Donna Janke recently posted…Bankside River WalkMy Profile

  7. There are so many fascinating aspects to Death Valley. I love the fact that you included Scotty’s Castle among the natural wonders. It’s an amazing place like no other.
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    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Death Valley had been on my bucket list for a few years. I was so glad to finally go — I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  8. Love your ‘can do’ attitude !! We have far too many friends who have limited mobility issues that keep them from traveling – loved that you tackled Death Valley with a crutch!!
    Jackie Smith recently posted…Greece ~ Trahila, That Treasure at the End of the RoadMy Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Awww, Jackie, that’s so sweet. My incurable wanderlust did wonders to help me through months of PT. Death Valley was my first adventure after the accident, and I had a blast!

  9. Beautiful photos and good on you for doing it so soon in your recovery!

  10. Kudos to you for keeping so active after such a horribly serious accident! I probably would have settled for a slow walk around the block but you chose Death Valley – what spirit! Furnace Creek sounds like a place you wouldn’t want to get stranded in.
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  11. Lovely photos and so great to hear that this was a landmark destination in more ways than one. We just plain ran out of time on our recent road trip to detour to Death Valley, but your post inspires us to go back for a visit. How many days were you there? You certainly covered a lot of ground.
    Kristin Henning recently posted…The Fantastic Painting of Matthias Church, BudapestMy Profile

    • luggageandlipstick says:

      Just there for two days, Kristin. It was a lot of ground to cover in my somewhat impaired condition, but I was so happy to be traveling again and the scenery so stunning that I barely noticed.

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