Are you planning a trip to Death Valley? Doing some research will help you score the best prices, the nicest weather, and the lowest crowds at all the must-see sights in Death Valley.
Despite its morbid name, Death Valley is bursting with flora and fauna, making it a photographer’s dream. You’ll also find some of the most breathtaking views in Death Valley National Park.
We’ll show you the best times to visit whether your vacation goals are to take in the captivating scenery, enjoy the dunes, or go camping and hiking. We’ll point you to the most affordable ways to visit Death Valley.
Plus, we’ll help you avoid planning your trip at the worst time to visit Death Valley (you know, if there were such a thing) when temperatures are setting high records, and it’s dangerous to be outside.
Why You Should Visit Death Valley
The nearly 3000 square miles that comprise Death Valley host some of the most captivating natural sites you can find on the planet! From natural wonders and night sky viewing to historical sites and mining ghost towns, there is plenty to see.
On the gorgeous Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Dante’s View, you can see some of the most mind-blowing desert scenery in the United States. Death Valley National Park protects these natural wonders within its borders.
We think the best way to see Death Valley is in the National Park.
The Spring in Death Valley is warm and sunny. Even though it’s a desert, sufficient rainfall during Winter will bring an elaborate wildflower bloom across the landscape.
Take in these sites and more when you hike or bike. Choose easy, moderate, or difficult cycling routes. Death Valley has fun for all ages with the Junior Ranger program.
Complete activities and learn about the desert plants and animals. Take the Junior Ranger pledge at the end of your trip to receive Death Valley National Park Junior Ranger badge.
Overall Best Time to Visit Death Valley
March and April are the overall best times to visit Death Valley. While Spring is the busiest time, the weather is the best, and the spring wildflowers peak in late March and early April.
Temperatures begin to rise beginning in March with an average of 82 degrees. By April the thermometer is reading in the 90s. You’ll beat the late spring and early summer heat by planning your trip for March or April.
Mild nighttime temperatures are also best for stargazing. Most visitors to Death Valley stay in Las Vegas and drive out to the park during the day.
Luckily, you’ll find some of the lowest hotel prices from January through April. You can also camp or stay at an inn or resort at the national park. These lodgings are open all year.
Stovepipe Wells Village accommodates RV camping with full hookups. The Inn at Death Valley is a privately owned first-class resort. Panamint Springs Resort offers resort accommodations and camping.
You’ll pay a little more for your flight during these prime weather months. But it’s worth it if you want to avoid the late Spring and early Summer.
During this time, temperatures reach 100 degrees and above! You can also camp at Death Valley National Park as your least expensive lodging option. Make time for all the sites by staying at least four days.
Check out one of the most photographed sites in Death Valley, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Drive Backwater Road and Artists Drive to take in the scenery from the comfort of your air-conditioned car. Hike Dante’s View for a vista of Death Valley.
Cheapest Time to Visit Death Valley
The cheapest time to book your trip to Death Valley is in the early Summer. The hotels in Las Vegas and the flights into Harry Reid International Airport are the cheapest in May and June.
The few exceptions are holidays, such as Memorial Day and the 4th of July. While the summer heat is scorching, travelers still love to plan getaways for holidays, and who can blame them?
If you can take the heat with air temperatures at 100 to 110 degrees during May and June, you can score some sweet deals to stay in Las Vegas. Keep in mind that visiting Death Valley means lots of time outside.
You can book low-priced rooms in Las Vegas from September through November also. The temperatures break in November with an average high of 77 degrees. You’ll miss the wildflowers though, and your flight won’t be at its lowest price.
Least Busy Time to Visit Death Valley
Winter brings the sparsest crowds to Death Valley National Park. The temperatures are mildest during the winter months. Since seeing Death Valley is an outdoor activity, you can beat the crowds and the heat by booking your trip from December through February.
January is part of the “shoulder season” in Las Vegas, so hotel rooms are at some of their lowest prices for the year. Planning to fly into Harry Reid International Airport?
Book on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday to score cheaper flights! Winter is also a great time for camping in Death Valley.
Some exceptions are Christmas and New Year’s, Martin Luther King Day weekend, and President’s Day weekend. Lodging in Las Vegas will be more expensive these days. Be sure to book a reservation if you plan to camp at the National Park.
Worst Time to Visit Death Valley
The worst time to visit Death Valley is in the summer. The months of July and August are too hot to enjoy most outdoor activities.
Some of the best experiences at Death Valley are hiking, camping, and cycling. The National Park Service says there are nine must-see locations for gorgeous vistas and epic photos.
You’ll want to visit when you can get to them all. With temperatures topping 116 degrees, it’s dangerous to be outdoors. Sunblock and gallons of water may not be enough to keep you from wilting under that heat.
The hotel rooms are cheaper in Las Vegas during summer except for holidays, but the savings may not be worth the sweat.
One way to enjoy Death Valley in the withering heat is to tour by car. There are thousands of miles of roads within Death Valley National Park. You can enjoy many beautiful vistas while limiting your exposure to direct heat and sun.
Things to Consider
You know the best and worst times to visit Death Valley, but what else should you know to travel like a pro? We’ve gathered a few helpful tips to help make your visit to Death Valley an amazing and memorable experience.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind before your trip to Death Valley:
- The heat
- Deals and discounts
- Know how to navigate
The Busiest Days
The holidays are always busy. Although the weather makes a huge impact on when visitors flock to Death Valley, holidays are the exception. Summer holidays such as Memorial Day weekend and the 4th of July see an influx of visitors despite the scorching heat.
March and April are the best weather months, but you may find yourself vacationing with several spring breakers. If you don’t mind sharing the dunes for your holiday weekend you can get the best weather days during those months.
Some Roads Are Off-Limits
Stick to the roads inside Death Valley. Driving off designated roads is illegal in Death Valley. There are thousands of miles of roads both paved and unpaved where you can enjoy amazing views of Death Valley.
Off-roaring causes damage to the natural environment such as the salt flats. You may also get stuck requiring rescue. Visitors who engage in illegal off-roading can also be subject to a $5000 fine or jail time. Don’t risk that hefty fine by sticking to the rules.
Bring the right gear. Death Valley is the northern portion of the Mojave Desert. Remember to pack as though you’re taking a summer trip no matter what time of year you visit. You’ll need:
- Plenty of sunscreen
- Light clothing
- Wide-brimmed hats
When you explore Death Valley on foot or by car, be sure to bring a gallon of water per person.
It sounds like a lot, but the dry, hot climate can quickly take its toll. A great way to carry water is a backpack with a bladder system. You can also bring a cooler filled with ice to help beat the heat!
Ask About Discounts
Don’t be afraid to ask about discounts. Many hotels, airlines, and rental services offer membership discounts or have coupons in brochures and tourist guides. Find activity guides in hotel lobbies and at rest stops.
Ask about discounts for military service or other affiliations, such as the Lion’s Club. The National Park Service has several membership levels with various prices and benefits.
Use the NPS to Your Advantage
Enjoy the services offered by Death Valley National Park Services. Heighten your experience by joining a ranger-guided nature walk, patio talk, or night program. The park rangers have a wealth of information that they are eager to share with visitors.
Download the NPS App before you arrive. You can save the park in your app for offline use. You’ll likely want access to information and maps in areas with no service.
Join the Junior Ranger program. Kids and the young at heart can complete a spate of activities and learn all about Death Valley. When you’re done, take the Junior Ranger pledge and earn a Junior Ranger badge from Death Valley National Park.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now you’re savvy to the best times to visit Death Valley you know some insider tips for making the most of your trip. Here are a few more common questions and answers for enjoying Death Valley.
How many days do you need in Death Valley?
Making a trip to Death Valley can be the vacation of a lifetime. There are at least nine sights including the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and Dante’s View overlooking all of Death Valley.
Plan four or more days to take your time through Death Valley. Keep in mind that you’ll be outdoors for most of the day. Set a leisurely pace considering the hot, dry climate.
Is Death Valley hot in May?
Yes! While May is a mild-weathered month for most of the US, in Death Valley, the thermometer is already topping 100 degrees. The dry heat of the desert takes hold early in the day.
If you’re an early riser who can enjoy some outdoor time before the sun gets to work, a trip in May might be a good option.
When you plan a Spring vacation to Death Valley, March and April have more moderate temperatures. The highs in April hover around 90 degrees. It’s still hot and sunny, but not to the point of being dangerous.
How long does it take to drive around Death Valley?
While there are several opportunities to drive scenic routes through Death Valley, a few standards have developed over time. Badwater Road is the most popular driving route.
You can also visit Badwater and then take Artist Drive on your way back to Highway 190. This drive is about an hour and a half round trip. You can see a lot of Death Valley by vehicle without spending all day in the car.
Death Valley has thousands of miles of roads for your exploration and enjoyment. Remember to stick to designated roadways for your safety and to preserve the natural environment.
Is Death Valley open in June?
Yes, it stays open all year! With summer temperatures well over 100 degrees (sometimes as high as 134) it’s no wonder some would assume that Death Valley is closed for the season.
The resorts, ranches, and RV sites also remain open all year. You can choose accommodations from first-class resorts to tent cabins when you go to Death Valley.
If you’re brave enough to visit Death Valley during summer, prepare to handle exposure to extreme heat and sun. You’ll need sunscreen, water, and a way to create some shade. But be prepared for your plans to change, depending on the heat.
What should I bring to Death Valley?
Your trip to Death Valley involves lots of outdoor time. Take what you would need for a day hike in hot weather. Be advised of the safety instruction issued by the National Park Service.
Here is a list of what to bring on your day out in Death Valley:
- Water in bottles or a pack (LOTS of water)
- Ice in a cooler
- A hat and sunscreen
- Sturdy footwear
- The NPS app downloaded on your phone
Best Times to Visit Death Valley: Final Thoughts
So, what’s the best time to visit Death Valley? March and April are prime months for the best weather and low-priced hotel rooms. You might get to see the profuse bloom of wildflowers in late March or early April.
No matter when you decide to go, we’re sure you’ll fall in love with the spectacular views and incredible outdoor activities.