California: Death Valley National Park

Guided Walking Tour, California: Death Valley National ParkGuided Walking Tour, California: Death Valley National Park

California

Death Valley National Park

overview

One of America’s most surreal landscapes, Death Valley inspires superlatives: largest national park outside Alaska, lowest spot in North America, one of the driest environments on Earth. Despite its fearsome name, it is surprisingly full of attractions. Starting from the historic Inn at Furnace Creek, a plush garden oasis with a spring-fed pool, travel into an alien world of color-drenched sunsets, remote canyons, undulating dunes, and ethereal rock formations. Dante’s View, Artist’s Palette, and Golden Canyons are all aptly named; the phantasmagorical badlands recall science-fiction movies. Trace the narrow recesses of Mosaic Canyon; visit Scotty’s Castle, a flamboyant Spanish-Mediterranean oddity built in the Roaring Twenties. Walk the rim of volcanic Ubehebe Crater, a half-mile wide and 600-feet deep. Behold Natural Bridge, a giant span of massive rock, and record-setting Badwater, a massive expanse of almost pure table salt that epitomizes the valley’s austere beauty.

 

Activity Level
Moderate;
2-5 miles daily
Meet
Las Vegas, Nevada
Depart
Las Vegas, Nevada
Daily Itinerary
Download printable
itinerary
Reading List
Recommended
pre-trip reading
Guided Walking 
4 days, 3 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals included; wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • Basic travel insurance coverage
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW staff
per person double occupancy
Solo surcharge + $0
 

2014 Single supplement + $675
2015 Single supplement + $735
Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
Total in your party
Price From
per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION

gallery

Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Death Valley National Park
View on map
2
Death Valley National Park
View on map
3
Death Valley National Park
View on map
4
Death Valley National Park
View on map
Day 1

Death Valley National Park

Transfer to Death Valley. Stop at Zabriskie Point. Golden Canyon; 1.4 miles, easy; Gower Gulch; 4 miles, moderate

You meet your guide(s) and group at your meeting hotel in Las Vegas and board your van for the approximately 2½-hour drive northwest to the California border and Death Valley National Park. The park encompasses all of Death Valley itself, the 156-mile-long trough running north-south between two mountain ranges—the Amargosa Range to the east and the Panamint Range to the west, as well as several other valleys: Saline, Eureka, and Greenwater. Death Valley forms the northern arm of the Mojave Desert and is also a part of the Great Basin, which covers most of Nevada, half of Utah, and parts of Oregon and Idaho.

Your first views of Death Valley are from Zabriskie Point, which offers panoramic views of Golden Canyon from the top down—views you will appreciate later in the day when you see Zabriskie Point from Golden Canyon. You continue on to Artist’s Palette for a picnic lunch where, as its name suggests, you are surrounded by more colorful landscapes, here of volcanic sedimentary hills.

After lunch, you set off on an easy walk in Golden Canyon, entered through the narrow part of the canyon that leads into golden-hued badlands. The canyon formed millions of years ago when a lake filled Death Valley, and erosion of soft lake sediments has resulted in the primitive landscape. You eventually see the striking 400-foot cliffs of Red Cathedral and turn into Gower Gulch, where the rounded hills carved out by erosion have been used as other-worldly settings in science-fiction films.

Completing the walk, you take a short drive to your home for the next three nights, a luxurious historic inn set in a lush desert oasis, in operation since the 1920s. You have time to settle in to your room before gathering for a welcome cocktail and dinner in the inn’s fine-dining restaurant.

The Inn at Furnace Creek

Death Valley National Park

A four-diamond historic resort offering luxury in the heart of Death Valley, this mission-style property is located on an oasis of palms and gardens surrounding a natural spring-fed swimming pool. Amenities include massage services, tennis courts, and gift shop.

Day 2

Death Valley National Park

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes; 2.2 miles, moderate; Mosaic Canyon; 3.8 miles, moderate to challenging

Awakening to the clear desert light and stillness, you have breakfast at the inn before setting off for the Stovepipe Wells area of the park and a walk in the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. The morning light adds drama to these 200-foot-high graceful sand dunes that are scored with tracks of wildlife ranging from beetles, snakes, and lizards to rodents, rabbits, and foxes.

After a picnic lunch, today’s afternoon walk to Mosaic Canyon is a wonderful introduction to exploring desert canyons. Named for its mosaic-like walls, composed of marble bedrock and breccia (small rock fragments embedded in natural cement), the canyon is situated at the north end of 6,600-foot Tucki Mountain.

You enter the canyon through its first narrow, which in some places is only a few feet wide, requiring single-file walking. The trail alternates between narrows and wider open washes, with the slopes of Tucki Mountain visible above where hardy desert holly and sage bushes have taken hold among the rocks. After walking through some rocky sections of the canyon with some rock scrambling, you eventually emerge at a small amphitheater coated with candle-like mud drippings. Desert animals are elusive, but you may spot a hawk overhead, the ubiquitous raven, and perhaps a scuttling lizard or iguana.

After a full day of hiking, you make your way back to your inn and resort, where you have time to enjoy its extensive, beautifully designed gardens, spring-fed swimming pool, and spa facilities. For the evening meal, you venture a mile down the road to the Ranch at Furnace Creek for a more casual dining experience.

The Inn at Furnace Creek

Death Valley National Park

A four-diamond historic resort offering luxury in the heart of Death Valley, this mission-style property is located on an oasis of palms and gardens surrounding a natural spring-fed swimming pool. Amenities include massage services, tennis courts, and gift shop.

Day 3

Death Valley National Park

Ubehebe Crater rim walk; 0.5-1.5 miles, easy to moderate; Scotty's Castle tour; Titus Canyon, out and back; easy to moderate

After breakfast, a full day begins with the drive to Ubehebe Crater, a crater a half-mile in diameter that resulted from a massive volcanic explosion of superheated groundwater. A smaller crater, Little Hebe Crater, is nearby, linked by a trail that follows along the rim of the 600-foot-deep hole that the Shoshone referred to as the “Basket in the Rock.”

Concluding the walk, you drive to the northernmost part of the park to find Scotty’s Castle—a sprawling Spanish-Mediterranean mansion filled with antiques and custom-made furniture, wrought iron, and tile that reflects the heyday of the Roaring Twenties and the tall tales of “Death Valley Scotty,” one of the region’s most colorful prospectors. You can try to separate truth from fiction in a guided tour (Was it built by Scotty or his millionaire friends?) after enjoying a picnic lunch on the grounds.

This afternoon you may choose to head back to the inn to enjoy the spring-fed pool and grounds or venture on to another hike in a nearby canyon. Striking Titus Canyon—named for the prospector who disappeared nearby in 1906—is a geologically fascinating mix of rocks, from layers of limestone to intricate conglomerates, subject to millennia of the earth’s powerful shattering and re-forming pressure.

Rounding out the walk in the late afternoon, you are ready to return to the inn, and later gather for dinner in its casually elegant surroundings; enjoying an enticing menu of meat, fish, or vegetarian options accompanied by an excellent selection of California wines—a final celebratory evening.

The Inn at Furnace Creek

Death Valley National Park

A four-diamond historic resort offering luxury in the heart of Death Valley, this mission-style property is located on an oasis of palms and gardens surrounding a natural spring-fed swimming pool. Amenities include massage services, tennis courts, and gift shop.

Day 4

Death Valley National Park

Natural Bridge; 2 miles, moderate; Badwater; 40-minute walk on salt flat, easy. Departure from Las Vegas

This morning after breakfast at the inn (including their specialty date-nut bread from the inn’s own date palms) you check out, and enjoy two last short walks and stunning Death Valley landmarks. The first is Natural Bridge, a massive natural rock bridge about 35 feet above an intriguing canyon wash, reached after a short ascent on a gravel trail. You then move on to Badwater, not only the park’s lowest point, but also the lowest land elevation in all of North America, at 282 feet below sea level. An enormous expanse of white salt flats, Badwater Basin is a surreal landscape that lacks any shade, with topography made up of a buckled and cupped salt crust. Likely the hottest and driest point in the Western Hemisphere and perhaps even in the world, this is a landscape one could walk endlessly, but not in the hottest months! Returning to your van, you make the drive through to Las Vegas with a stop en route for lunch, arriving by mid-afternoon for your onward travels.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Hannah Sullivan

Hannah Sullivan moved from New York City to Berkeley, CA, for graduate school in 1990, fell in love with the Western US, and has never looked back. She currently lives in Tahoe City, CA, and guides hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking tours in Death Valley, Tahoe, Yosemite, and many other regions of the Western U.S. An experienced hiker and guide, Hannah enjoys sharing her passion with guests on the trail and uses her vacation time from her career in the investment business to guide trips. She and her two Chesapeake Bay Retrievers try to get out and Nordic ski or hike every day!

Glenn Polochko

Glenn Polochko grew up in the Bronx and acquired his passion for the outdoors in the Catskill Mountains of New York. As a young adult he lived in a tepee in Vermont for three years before moving to Truckee, California, in the 1970s and has never left. He has over 20 years of experience guiding hiking, biking, backcountry skiing, and snowshoeing tours throughout California and Nevada.

Stephanie Dees

Born and raised in Alabama, Stephanie moved to California after college where her love of the outdoors lead her to guiding in Yosemite, Death Valley, Crater Lake, Lassen, Pt. Reyes, and Lake Tahoe, and as well as becoming a Wilderness First Responder. In winter, you can find her on the slopes instructing disabled snow sport enthusiasts in skiing and snowboarding. She enjoys volleyball off the hillsides, either indoor or on the beach!

Guest Comments

K. Brown, Texas, March 2012

This tour was just the right length. The guides were very knowledgeable about the area and were alot of fun to walk with in the various canyons, sand dunes and volcano rims.

B. Williams, Mississippi, March 2012

The guides did a great job of leading the group as well as being very caring and concerned about each participant.

M. Vitti, New York, March 2012

I had a marvelous trip from start to finish. From the guides, to my fellow travelers, to the accommodations, to the excellently selected hikes: it was wonderful all round!

F. Cassella, New York, April 2012

A superb tour of Death Valley. Very informative. Really got to know Death Valley, its geology and history thanks to our great guides, Glenn and Stephanie.

Q. Kwan, Maryland, March 2012

I enjoyed it very much—literally opened my eyes and was a breath of fresh air.

B. Rutzer, Washington, March 2012

Most unusual terrain and most fun.

PDF Download Capture: