It’s no secret that I’m completely infatuated with Death Valley National Park. We spent two weeks exploring the park and decided to split our trip in two — one without 4WD and another time with 4WD.
Today, I’ll cover the top 7 places in Death Valley National Park (with 4WD). Read on for everything you need to know.
If you’re interested in visiting Death Valley National Park and don’t have 4WD, check out Top 10 Spots in Death Valley Without 4WD. It may prove helpful.
Death Valley Without 4WD
#1. Eureka Dunes
Hands down, the coolest dunes I’ve ever seen. This is the largest dune field in the park and we made the lovely mistake of booking it to the top to get a sunset shot. It was SO unbelievably hard.
The entire climb I felt like I was taking two steps forward and six steps back. The sand gave way beneath me and resulted in the sensation of surfing down. I probably sound crazy, maybe the heat got to me?
All things considered, this is the place I wouldn’t miss if we went again. Tip: they have first-come, first-served camping sites here, they’re free but they seem to go quickly!
#2. Surprise Canyon
This is a surprise indeed!! We passed by three or four waterfalls on this hike. I consider this a “build your own adventure” type of hike where you can go in any direction to get to the end, as long as you keep moving forward.
Depending on the turns you make, the hike can be strenuous and somewhat dangerous if you’re not careful. We had to slow down a tad on the way back to make sure we didn’t slip.
Okay, I may have faked a little slip on the way back just to get a sweet reaction out of Will. 😉 ha!
#3. Ibex Dunes
We were the only people playing in these dunes! But, boy, getting to them was quite the ordeal; the road is rough! With the popularity of national parks these days, it’s hard to imagine finding solitude anywhere you go. Well, not here.
These dunes are dear to me because we had them all to ourselves. A coveted escape from civilization. The introvert in me did a little happy dance.
We hiked about three miles to reach the abandoned talc mine we came to see. The talc mine was awesome to explore but foolishly hiked mid-day in 92 degree heat. Needless to say, I do not recommend doing that.
We were hoping to see rattlesnakes in this area and Will kept teasing by saying “THIS is the place we will see a rattlesnake.” But we didn’t see any. In fact, we didn’t spot a single snake our entire trip!
#4. Racetrack Playa
Racetrack Playa was the place I was most excited to see. The road to get here was terribly bumpy, so be prepared for that. The phenomenon that occurs here is absolutely amazing! The rocks move and leave tracks behind them.
One big bummer is that some people steal the rocks (because they believe they’re magical or something). It was really sad to see long, deep tracks and no rocks at the end. If you visit the park with 4WD, you should not miss the racetrack!!
Tip: park in the third parking lot, that’s where the biggest/best rocks are.
Look at those clouds!!
#5. Lee Flat
Will has been to Joshua Tree National Park and said that some of the mature trees in the Lee Flat area were larger than the ones in Joshua Tree. Wowza!
Also, heads up! We had to cut our photo shoot short due to a large colony of (possibly) Africanized bees (known as killer bees). These are extremely dangerous and defensive bees that relentlessly attack perceived threats in large swarms.
So be careful in the Lee Flat area around sunrise; they disappeared as soon as the sun went down. I know that sounds scary, but I hope it doesn’t keep you from visiting this area/park; just want to make you’re aware of something we noticed.
Never a dull moment with my best guy, I tell you what. 😉
#6. Charcoal Kilns
These ten beehive shaped kilns are so cool! They stand about 25 feet high and are believed to be the best known surviving kilns found in the western states. These kilns are at a higher elevation and when we got to the top, we were freezing!
Will planned on illuminating the kilns for a night shot and I was teasing him by saying, “how cool would it be if someone was already illuminating the kilns and they left the set up for you to use?” And that, my friends, is exactly what happened.
#7. Aguereberry Point
We weren’t entirely sure if we wanted to visit Aguereberry Point originally. We did tons of research prior to our trip and Aguereberry Point came up here and there but it didn’t have jaw-dropping reviews. And you know us, if the jaws aren’t dropping, we’re not stopping.
We were taken aback by the beautiful sunrise we caught here. It was absolutely breathtaking. Will deemed this the best spot for sunrises in the park. Take it for what it’s worth.
We had the time of our lives in Death Valley National Park. In fact, it is now in my top 5 favorite national parks.
- 17+ Best Things to Do in Death Valley National Park
- The 10 Best Hikes in Death Valley National Park
- Exploring Eureka Sand Dunes
- Visiting Death Valley Without 4WD
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I hope you enjoyed the photos.
Until next time,
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