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How to Visit Death Valley National Park in One Day

Golden Canyon Trail to Red Cathedral

Death Valley National Park can be visited on a day trip from Las Vegas or in one day on the way to another destination. While it would be ideal to be able to spend more time in Death Valley, if you only have one day to explore the park it is still worth it. Death Valley is one of the most unique destinations in the US where you can visit the lowest elevation point in North America as well as the hottest place on earth. The extreme conditions of the park make for unique natural wonders to explore including the salt flats, badlands, canyons, waterfalls, craters and more. Plan your one day in Death Valley National Park with this itinerary which includes all the top stops that are possible to see in just one day.

How to Do a Day Trip to Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas

If you are staying in Las Vegas a day trip to Death Valley is a must-do. While it will be a long day it is an incredible experience that shouldn’t be missed. To visit Death Valley from Las Vegas you would either need to rent a car to make the 2-hour drive to the main area of the park or book an organized tour that includes transportation. If you want to explore the park with just your group you can book a rental car in advance on Discover Cars.

If you are staying in Las Vegas and don’t plan on renting a car, you can book a small-group tour to Death Valley National Park. This Death Valley Small-Group Day Adventure from Las Vegas is the best way to visit the park without having to rent a car. This day trip takes you to most of the top destinations in Death Valley National Park including Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Pallete, and Dante’s View. This is a great option if you are visiting Las Vegas want to get out of the city and see one of the most amazing national parks in the United States.

If you want to see the sunset in the park and have time to stargaze, I recommend booking this Death Valley Sunset & Starry Night Tour from Las Vegas. Watching the sunset at Zabriskie Point is an extraordinary experience making this tour worth the cost.

One Day in Death Valley National Park Itinerary

If you have just one day in Death Valley National Park focus your time on the Furnace Creek area of the park, exploring the sights on Badwater Rd. This way you can enjoy your time in the park and be able to do at least one hike to fully experience this unique landscape.

Drive Twenty Mule Canyon Rd

Twenty Mule Canyon Drive Death Valley

A hidden gem in Death Valley National Park that is often overlooked is Twenty Mule Canyon Rd. This road is a 2.5-mile one-way road which takes you through colorful badlands. It is passable with most sedans and 4-wheel drive is not needed. You can find the entrance to this drive just east of Zabriskie Point off CA-190.

See the View from Zabriskie Point

Zabriskie Point

For your second destination during your one day in Death Valley, check out Zabriskie Point. A short walk from the parking lot leads you to a viewpoint of the colorful badlands. 

Hike Golden Canyon to Red Cathedral

Red Cathedral Death Valley Hike

This is one of the best hikes in Death Valley National Park and can easily be fit into your one day in the park. Golden Canyon Trail is about 3 miles round trip with 570 ft elevation gain that guides you through a canyon to a viewpoint of the badlands. The trail begins with slight elevation gain through a canyon. As you continue the canyon narrows and you will have to climb up rocks. The best part of the trail is when you reach Red Cathedral and can walk up paths to see more views of the Badlands.

Artist's Drive and Artist's Pallete

Artists Palette

Artist’s Drive is a one way 9-mile road that takes you through colorful badlands. There are a few spots where you can stop and enjoy the views. The most popular viewpoint on this drive is called Artist’s Palette. With just one day in the park this is a great stop since you can see a great view from the parking lot.

Quick Stop at Devil's Golf Course

Devil's Golfcourse

Devil’s Golfcourse is the most underrated destination in Death Valley National Park. This unique landscape was formed after salt lakes deposited salts which were then eroded by wind and water, forming jagged spires. Be careful as you explore this area since the salt rocks are very tough and can be sharp. This spot is only a short detour off Badwater Rd, just before Badwater Basin as you are driving south.

If you have more time in the park check out our 2-Day Death Valley National Park Itinerary

Watch the Sunset at Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 ft below level. The salt flats extend about 200 square miles. To get to the edge of the salt flat you only need to walk about 10 minutes on a boardwalk from the parking lot, but to see the salt polygons you will want to walk about a mile each way. As you are walking out to the salt flats look for the sign on the black mountains that indicates sea level. The views of the surrounding mountains are incredible, with the Panamint Range on the west, where you can see Telescope Peak rising to 11,049 ft.

If you are visiting Death Valley when there is a lake on Badwater Basin check out our detailed guide: How to Visit Badwater Basin and Lake Manly in Death Valley National Park

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Reut and Zack Elopement-5

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