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9+ (BEST) DEATH VALLEY National Park CAMPGROUNDS

There are 9 Death Valley Campgrounds and we’ve ranked them all including photos, facilities, site descriptions, locations, and more!

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Death Valley Campgrounds Are Among the Best in America

The Campgrounds in Death Valley are among the best in America – here’s everything you need to know.

zabriskie point death valley campgrounds
Death Valley Campgrounds

I still remember my first visit to Death Valley. Along a road trip with friends we said “might as well drive through to see what it’s all about”. It was Summer and the extreme desert temperatures were something us East-Coasters had never experienced – I’m very glad I did.

Death Valley is an otherworldly place that seems like something out of a Star Wars movie set (it is). The landscapes here seem endless with stunning yellow, orange, and purple hues. And, surprisingly, there is abundant life in the last place you might expect.

If you are like me, and wrote Death Valley off or moved it to a lower spot on your list due to it’s morbid name or extreme reputation, trust me when I say it’s totally worth the visit.

Let’s get started!


About My Travels to Death Valley National Park

death valley national park pattiz
Me with my wife in Death Valley National Park

My brother Jim and I first visited Death Valley National Park back in 2013 along with some friends on a road trip from Atlanta to California. We stopped at the park for maybe an hour but I could tell immediately that my impressions of the park were totally off.

Since that trip, I have returned many, many times and even created an award-winning film (see below) on Death Valley. For the film, to capture the essence of the park we took two separate trips and spent a total of nearly 3 weeks in Death Valley.

The first trip was in the Winter and the second was in the Spring. We visited once with a 2WD car and once with a 4WD car (what a difference – more on that below).


Contents


About Death Valley National Park

death valley national park california
Mud Cracks at Sunrise in Death Valley

Situated on California’s southeastern border with Nevada, Death Valley National Park spans over 5,000 square miles of otherworldly vistas. The largest national park in the continental United States, Death Valley is a park for superlatives.

Death Valley is the hottest place on earth, the lowest place in North America, and the driest place in the United States. Death Valley is also the largest National Park outside of Alaska.


Things to Know Before You Visit Death Valley

Guide: I highly recommend this one.

Map: I use this one.

Entrance Fees: The fee to enter Death Valley is $30 per vehicle. If you plan on visiting more than 1 national park this year we suggest you go ahead and purchase the America the Beautiful Pass (which can be found at the entrance gates to most national parks or online here).

This pass gets you into all National Parks, Forests, Monuments, and more including 2,000 sites for free after a one time $79 fee.

Sunscreen: For many of us visiting national parks in the summer means lots of sun. Seriously, some of these parks can zap you if you don’t wear sunscreen. We happen to like this one because it works AND it’s not full of a bunch of chemicals.

Leave No Trace: We’re big fans of Leave No Trace, here at MTJP. Want to learn more? Read about the seven principals of Leave No Trace here.

Insect Repellent: You hope not to need it, but you want to have it. We typically bring an Eco-Friendly Insect Repellent with us just in case.

Dogs are not allowed on trails in most national parks due to their potentially disruptive presence with the natural ecosystem. The basic rule is they are allowed where cars can go so be sure to check the rules before bringing along your furry friend.


Details About Death Valley National Park

Location: Furnace Creek, California

Established: October 31, 1994

Size: 3.37 million acres

Native Land: Timbisha Shoshone

Visitors: 1,678,660 (2018)

Entrance Fees: Free (or $80 for America the Beautiful Pass)


Death Valley National Park Map

Death Valley National Park Map
Official Death Valley National Park Map (courtesy NPS)

Camping & Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is home to 12 campgrounds and over 700 campsites offering a wide variety of camping options from campgrounds with over 200 sites to remote backcountry wilderness.

Campgrounds in Death Valley: 12

Campsites in Death Valley: 700+

Death Valley Backcountry Campsites: 200+

1. Sunset Campground Death Valley

creosote bush sunrise death valley national park campsite california
Sunrise Near Sunset Campground Death Valley
  • 270 sites
  • Late Fall-Early Spring
  • Price: Standard $14 
  • First-come, First-Serve
  • RVs Allowed

Located in Furnace Creek, Sunset Campground doesn’t offer much to see but has plenty of space at affordable rates. This “campground” is a gravel lot separated by chalk lines. Sunset Campground is a pretty lousy spot for tent campers but perfect for trailers or RVs.

The campground is centrally located near Artist’s Palette, Golden Throne, Zabriskie Point, a convenience store, and more. 

Photo of Sunset Campground

sunset campground death valley
Sunset Campground Death Valley

One thing to note is the campground is at sea level and temps can (and do) soar. Furnace Creek has the record for hottest recorded air temperature on the planet so if you need cool air to sleep this might not be the place for you in warmer months.


2. Stovepipe Wells Campground Death Valley

mesquite flat sand dunes sunrise stovepipe wells campground death valley national park california
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Near Stovepipe Wells Campground
  • 190 sites
  • Late Fall-Early Spring
  • Standard $14
  • First-come, First-Serve
  • RVs Allowed

Stovepipe Wells is the first stop for many park visitors. The campground here is a pretty basic featuring some fairly stripped down Death Valley campsites rocky, dirt plot with little to no privacy. Most sites feature a fire pit and picnic table. 

What the campground lacks in natural amenities, the surrounding area more than compensates for. Restrooms are maintained well-enough, above average for a national park.

Photo of Stovepipe Wells Campground

stovepipe wells campground death valley
Stovepipe Wells Campground Death Valley

The campground is located near popular spots like Mesquite Flat Dunes, Devil’s Cornfield, and the most popular convenience store in Death Valley.


3. Furnace Creek Campground Death Valley

water mud cracks furnace creek death valley national park california
Furnace Creek Campground | Death Valley Campsites
  • 136 sites / 18 hookups
  • Year Round
  • Standard $22 / Hookups $36
  • Reservations Oct 15 – Apr15
  • RVs Allowed
  • Book Reservations: here

Furnace Creek Campground has some of Death Valley’s best campsites offers large sites, desert scenery, and is well-maintained. Most sites feature a fire pit and picnic table. What more do you need? Restrooms are maintained well-enough and have running water.

The location of the campground is tough to beat near Artist’s Palette, Golden Throne, Zabriskie Point and more.

Photo of Furnace Creek Campground

furnace creek campground death valley
Furnace Creek Campground Campsite Death Valley

One thing to note is the campground is at sea level and temps can (and do) soar. Furnace Creek has the record for hottest recorded air temperature on the planet so if you need cool air to sleep this might not be the place for you in warmer months. Site also features 18 hookups.


4. Texas Springs Campground Death Valley

death valley national park california
Texas Spring Campground Death Valley
  • 92 sites
  • Late Fall-Early Spring
  • Standard $16
  • First-come, First-Serve

Texas Springs Campground features dirt plots, close quarters, and sweeping views. All the basics are here including fire pit, picnic table, and restrooms (hello, flush toilets). This campground is located across the street from Furnace Creek campground.

Texas Springs is located in the Furnace Creek section of the park near Golden Throne, Artist’s Palette, Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, and more.


5. Mesquite Spring Campground Death Valley

sandstorm death valley national park california
Mesquite Spring Campground Death Valley
  • 30 sites
  • Year Round
  • Standard $14
  • First-come, First-serve

If you go to the parks for a more secluded experience (like us) Mesquite Spring is probably more your pace. The campground is located off Scotty’s Castle Road.

Mesquite Spring is a basic campground with far fewer sites than the bigger, more popular campgrounds like Stovepipe Wells or Furnace Creek. Each site at Mesquite Spring features a fire pit & picnic table.

Flush toilets are a plush feature here. Mesquite Spring Campground is located near Ubehebe Crater, Scotty’s Castle, on the northern side of the park. It makes for a god base camp if you’re trying to make it to Eureka Dunes or the Racetrack Playa.

Photo of Mesquite Spring Campground

mesquite spring campground death valley campsite
Mesquite Spring Campground Death Valley

6. Wildrose Campground Death Valley

aguereberry point sunrise death valley national park
Aguereberry Point at Sunrise
  • 23 sites
  • Year Round
  • FREE
  • First-come, First-Serve

If you’re taking a multi-day camping trip to Death Valley then Wildrose Campground deserves consideration. It’s location on a Western end of the park off Charcoal Kilns Road makes it a bit out of the way for most visitors, maybe that’s why it’s free?

As compared to most camp sites in the park, Wildrose sites feature vegetation and considerably more distance between neighbors along with fire pits & picnic tables.

Photo of Wildrose Campground

wildrose campground death valley campsite
Wildrose Campground Campsite Death Valley

Down the road from Wildrose Campground are the charcoal kilns, and the trailhead to Bennett & Telescope Peaks which offer some of the best views of the entire park. Depending on the time of year snow can be found on the trail.


7. Emigrant Campground Death Valley

death valley campsites
Sunrise Near Emigrant Campground | Death Valley Campsites
  • 10 sites (tent only)
  • Year Round
  • FREE
  • First-come, First-serve

It’s easy to mistake Emigrant Campground as a rest stop from the road as it doesn’t look like much but the price is right. This free campground sits about 100ft off a main road and has no shade or natural barriers of any kind.

Each site comes with picnic table, fire pit, and very little distance from the next site over.

Photo of Emigrant Campground

emigrant campground death valley campsite
Emigrant Campground Death Valley

The campground technically doesn’t have it’s own bathroom but an actual rest stop with bathrooms is a two-minute walk away. It’s location adjacent to beginning of Emigrant Canyon road puts it in between Panamint Springs, Wildrose, and Stovepipe Wells.


8. Mahogany Flat Campground Death Valley

charcoal kilns best things to do death valley national park
Mahogany Flat Campground Death Valley
  • 10 sites
  • Late Spring – Fall
  • FREE
  • First-come, First-Serve

Mahogany Flat Campground is a bit of an anomaly in Death Valley National Park. Whereas most campgrounds are located close to sea level, this campground sits at an elevation of 8200ft making it a much cooler spot.

From Badwater Basin to this campground one must climb a mile and a half in elevation. Situated amongst a grove of conifers camp sites are quite lovely coming with the standard fire pit & picnic table. Toilets are of the pit variety.

Photo of Mahogany Flat Campground

Mahogany Flat Campground death valley campsite
Mahogany Flat Campground Death Valley

This campground is located at the trailhead for Rogers Peak near the Charcoal Kilns and offers some incredible views of Death Valley.

NOTE: You will most likely need a high clearance vehicle to access this campground as the road can be quite rough.


9. Thorndike Campground Death Valley

aguereberry point death valley national park california
Thorndike Campground Death Valley
  • 6 sites
  • Late Spring – Fall
  • FREE
  • First-come, First-serve

Thorndike Campground is very similar to its nearby neighbor, Mahogany Flat Campground, in that it is off the same road, sits at high elevation (7400ft), and is situated amongst a conifer grove.

Thorndike is much cooler than most Death Valley campgrounds so come prepared. Sites come with fire pit, picnic table, and some even a grill. Toilets are of the pit variety.

Photo of Thorndike Campground

thorndike campground death valley
Thorndike Campsite Death Valley

NOTE: you will most likely need a high clearance vehicle to access this campground as the road can be quite rough


List of Death Valley Campgrounds

  1. Sunset Campground
  2. Stovepipe Wells Campground
  3. Furnace Creek Campground
  4. Texas Springs Campground
  5. Mesquite Spring Campground
  6. Wildrose Campground
  7. Emigrant Campground
  8. Mahogany Flat Campground
  9. Thorndike Campground

Getting to Death Valley – Directions & Location

There are a few popular ways to get to Death Valley.

Closest Airport: LAS – McCarran International Airport (distance – 106 miles from the Death Valley Junction Entrance)

The fastest way to get to Death Valley National Park is by plane, flying into Las Vegas’s McCarran International Airport. Flights into Las Vegas are usually inexpensive due to the amount of major airlines that fly into the city from all over the world.

Alternatively you *could* fly into Los Angeles (LAX) and drive east (3.5 hours).

Driving From Las Vegas to Death Valley

las vegas to death valley
Las Vegas to Death Valley Map

If you are driving from Las Vegas to Death Valley, getting to the park is a breeze. Just jump on highway 160 and take it to Pahrump. From there simply follow the signs the rest of the way.

The drive from Las Vegas to Death Valley is about 2 hours or so depending on where you’re first stop in the park is.

Traffic from Las Vegas to Death Valley isn’t too bad so long as you time your departure from the city right.

On the return trip from Death Valley to Las Vegas you could take an alternate route through Amargosa Valley or Beatty if you’re near Stovepipe Wells.


Death Valley Video

WATCH: I co-produced this 3 minute short film on Death Valley

About the Death Valley Video

In the remote far reaches of the Mojave Desert lies the largest national park in the continental United States. Hidden here in the hottest place on earth is another world full of diverse life and colorful landscapes. Join us as we take life to the extreme and explore Death Valley. Filmed primarily in 8K.

To make this film we spent weeks in California’s (& Nevada’s) Death Valley National Park, mostly in February and March when the temperatures are more manageable. We traversed hundreds of miles hiking most of the parks trails to capture the park like never before.

RELATED: 14 BREATHTAKING National Park Videos to Inspire Your Next Trip


Driving Tips You Should Know in Death Valley

Lee Flat Joshua Tree Forest Death Valley
Lee Flat Joshua Tree Forest at Sunset | Death Valley

1. Be Prepared For Long Drives

Don’t come into the park without a full tank of gas. Map out stops beforehand and calculate the mileage so that you don’t run out of gas inside the park. Death Valley is not a place you want to be stranded.

2. Bring Emergency Water & Food Just In Case.

Flat tires are common in Death Valley National Park and cell service is spotty at best. While most of the roads are traveled fairly regularly, some are not. This means it could be hours or even days before the next visitor drives down the road.

3. DO NOT DRIVE OFF THE ROADS.

Much damage has been done to the park in the past few years by people driving off road. It takes an extremely long time for sensitive parts of the desert floor to return to a natural state once damaged. If you see someone doing this take down their license plate and report it to a ranger station.

4. Don’t Speed

With wide open roads that stretch for miles and miles the tempation to speed may be great. Resist the urge. You never know when a coyote, hiker, or burro might decide to cross the road. Many of the roads have unexpected dips & sharp turns as well. Enjoy the scenery and take it easy!

5. Driving down dirt roads takes longer.

When calculating your drive times around the park make sure to give yourself a cushion when traversing dirt roads. Google maps doesn’t always do the best job of this and drive times can easily take twice


Death Valley Photos

Photos of Death Valley from the production of our film.


Nearby Attractions


Summary | Leave us a Comment!

That’s a wrap folks! Hopefully you feel like you’ve got a good handle on your next trip to Death Valley National Park. Please leave me a comment below and let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Hope to see you on the trails sometime soon!


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Will Pattiz

Co-founder of More Than Just Parks. Husband. Conservationist. Currently living in NYC.

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