Death Valley is truly a land of extremes. From otherworldly texture and terrain to ghost towns and abandoned mines, this expansive park is home to some of the most unique and inspiring landscapes anywhere on the planet, and visitors from around the world come to experience its striking geology and charismatic cultural sites.
Undoubtedly the best thing to do in Vegas is to rent a car, which, compared with Europe, is very cheap. You'll have a lot of freedom because aside from being able to go to the desert you can also go to any casino you want and park for free with Self-Parking.
About 15 miles from the city, you can find one of America's most spectacular national parks. I'd seen photos of the park before but, as well all know, sometimes photos can be deceiving. In this case though, the real thing is way better than any photo. There are dozens of white sand dunes that are miles long, many off them which have not been marked with human footprints (thanks to the fine work of the US Parks Service!). I'd been in dunes before and loved it, but this really blew me away.
Artist Drive or Artists Palette is a small road in Death Valley, off the main 178, and the inner direction to the mountain which winds through the canyon. The road is narrows and entertaining, in good condition, but is only one direction, that is, back out to the 178, and 15 miles long. Do not miss the mineral pigments from volcanic stones which create very intense colors. The iron produces reds, pinks and yellows, the decomposition of the mica makes the green and manganese creates purple and violet. You should visit at sunset.
It is to the north of Los Angeles and you can pass by it if you go from LA to Las Vegas. It occupies an area of 57,000 km2. It is a desert just like you see in Western movies, with dead trees. The limits of this desert are defined by the presence or Joshua Tree yuccas. It has been said that in the Mojave Desert there are between 1750 and 2000 species of plants living, including cassava. Death Valley is in California in the western desert area, as well.
This place, is without a doubt, the most spectacular place to visit in this national park, and one of the most spectacular of all the national parks in the USA. This plateau can be seen from a viewpoint (a journey of just over a km) or a circuit (pretty easy) penetrating inside revealing all the mysteries of these original rock formations. In my opinion, you should see both, and it can be done during a morning. I saw it at the end of March, and the snow added to the beauty of the landscape.
On my way from the south of California to near El Paso (Texas), I visited several deserts (Joshua Tree in California, Arizona Saguaro, ....). This park is in southern Arizona, near the Mexican border, with police checkpoints every few km. It's well worth a visit, though! From the visitor center, about 20 km from the park entrance, there is a list of possible routes depending on how long you'll be in the park. The one I recommend is a route by car, on unpaved road, about 30 km upon leaving the visitor center. On the same route you can try some trekking, usually to the most photographed arch of the park (the road doesn't get to the base).
Devil's Golf Course or Salt Sea is 12 miles south of Furnace Creek Ranch, on Highway 178 and south of the artists palette. There you will find the star of Death Valley, the vast expanse of salt in the desert. You can lose yourself in the sight of this salt sea. Hence the name: Devil's Golf Course.
Located near the small town of Stovepipe, these sand formations are the most famous and easily accessible in Death Valley. You can get to them by Highway 190, or the dirt Sand Dunes Road, which is well signposted. The dunes cover a wide area of about 5 km by 2 km, and are the highest sand dunes on the continent. Take care climbing, it's better to go very early because of the extremely high temperatures.
Right in the middle of nowhere, Agathla Peak seems like something from another planet. Colorful in the golden daylight, it is truly spectacular. There's so much more to Monument Valley than what you've seen in westerns...
This is a constantly changing landscape full of mystery, intrigue and wonder. These deserts are truly living relics. Make sure to drink lots of water no matter what time of year it is, after all it is the desert! problems with dehydration happen here year round, take it from me I live in Phoenix.
Be extremely cautious of the summer Monsoon season and the infamous dust storms that happen as Thunderstorms collapse. They are deadly, please pull off the road and turn off your lights and for God's sake take you foot off the break! That very "odd" suggestion just may save your life or someone else caught in the storm on the road. Don't worry they blow over quick. Usually!