Death Valley National Park is in California but within easy driving distance of Las Vegas. You can bust away from the glitter of The Strip to explore what is truly a unique landscape. Death Valley is the largest national park in the United States outside of Alaska, and 95% of it is designated as wilderness by the United States Congress to preserve the wild character. The park has also been designated as an International Biosphere Reserve. Below sea level yet surrounded by snow-capped peaks, Death Valley is far from dead. This wildly diverse landscape ranges from dunes and fields of wildflowers to lakes that come and go with the rain. In spring, the valley bursts with life.
Be sure to visit the bizarre Racetrack Playa where tracks from rolling rocks scar the hard expanse of desert dirt. Also, don’t miss the Devils Postpile National monument with its towering basalt columns. The routes to the park can be as worthwhile as the park itself. The most direct route to Death Valley from Las Vegas is through Pahrump. A slightly longer route will take you through Lathrop Wells. Perhaps the most interesting route is known as the “Ghost Town Route” that takes you through Beatty, the Rhyolite ghost town, and Hell’s Gate. The most scenic route follows state highway 160 West and then takes up the Old Spanish Trail and then California state highways 127, 178, and 190.