Death Valley Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (1998)
- Intrinsic QualitiesScenic
- Length811.5 miles
The Byway is a gateway to over 3.3 million acres of spectacular scenery, spacious vistas, rare desert wildlife, and historical and cultural sites. This byway travels through sculpted hills and shifting sand dunes and even dips below sea level. Death Valley features the lowest point and the hottest place in North America.
Story of the Byway
The area was once home to a gigantic prehistoric lake. It is almost unfathomable until you experience it. The largest National Park outside Alaska, Death Valley National Park is 3.3 million acres that encompass mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea- level salt flats, mysterious singing rocks, and colorful sandstone canyons. The summer temps are unwelcoming in the summer, with temps peaking above 120 degrees. More moderate temps are experienced in the spring and fall. Other recreational activities include golfing at the Furnace Creek Golf Course and there are two hotels at the Oasis at Death Valley.
Taking Highway 190 from the California/Nevada Border the route goes around Death Valley National Park to Stovepipe Wells and then southwesterly and ending just to the north of Darwin, CA.
Points of Interest
Salt water lake that is 282 feet below sea level, the lowest point in North America.
Soars to 11.049 feet.
Volcanic eruption 2,100 years ago.
Where pupfish, a tiny native fish, survive from a time when a gigantic lake filled Death Valley.
Furnace Creek Visitor Center
Official visitor center for Death Valley National Park.
Great photo op of the folded and eroded badlands glowing in the saturated light.
1880s Harmony Borax Works
See an original 20-mule team wagon and the adobe ruins.
Colorful slick rock and marbled narrows that all ages can navigate.
Oasis at Death Valley
Location has 2 hotels.
Furnace Creek Golf Course
18-hole, par 70 golf course, 214 feet below sea level.
Highlights of Death Valley
Start off on the eastern side of Death Valley National Park on State Route 190 and make your way west. Drive by the Twenty Mule Team Canyon and Zabriskie Point. Zabriskie Point is the most famous viewpoint in the park. Overlooking the golden colored badlands of the Furnace Creek formation, visitors can simply enjoy the view or elect to start the hike from the point around Badlands Loop. Connector trails lead to Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, and Red Cathedral. The point is most popular at sunrise and sunset.
Make a detour down Badwater Road to Badwater Basin, home to the lowest elevation in North America. A short ¼ mike will take you to the salt polygons Death Valley is famous for.
On your way back, check out Devils Golf Course, an immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into a jagged spire which is so incredibly serrated that "only the devil could play golf on such rough links". Listen carefully and you'll hear sounds like tiny pops and pings. Bend your ear to the ground and the sound grows louder. The sound is literally billions of tiny salt crystals bursting apart as they expand and contract in the heat.
Enjoy a scenic drive through a geologic rainbow and you make your way back to Furnace Creek! Artists Drive is a one-way, nine mile drive that passes through eroded, colorful desert hills. A stop at Artists Palette along the way, either from the car window or a short walk, will provide the most colorful views. Enjoy geology and scenic vistas along this trip!
Before you return to Furnace Creek, stop for a hike at Golden Canyon. A labyrinth landscape of golden colored hills and winding narrow canyons create hiking options ranging from easy strolls to strenuous adventures. The most popular routes can be combined with one another for longer adventures, up about 4.5 miles. Regardless which adventure is right for you, take the map and route description with you.
Once you return to Furnace Creek, continue along State Route 190 to see the rest of the byway. There are plenty more places along the way to stop for scenic views or a hike.
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