death valley camping

Death Valley Camping | The Ultimate Guide to Death Valley Campgrounds

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Death Valley Camping is a lot like the name sounds — camping devoid of shade, trees, pine needles, moss, hardwood trees, or anything that remotely resembles an Eastern US campground. The park earned its forbidding sounding name. When a group of pioneers wandered into the valley and found themselves lost in the winter of 1849-1850 they all assumed the valley would be the death of them all.

As the party climbed out of the valley over the Panamint Mountains, one of the men turned, looked back, and said “goodbye, Death Valley.” Even though only one of their members actually died, the name stuck. It’s not like there’s ever been anyone rushing to change the name because it’s so, well—perfect. So are the names of many of the park’s attractions—like Dante’s View, and Coffin Peak. Are you sensing a death theme here? Don’t worry. Go prepared, drink lots of water, find shade and rest during the middle of the day and you’ll be fine.

 

death valley camping

Dante’s View
Credit to nps.gov

Dante’s View  is a viewpoint terrace at 1,669 m height, on the north side of Coffin Peak, along the crest of the Black Mountains, overlooking Death Valley. Dante’s View is about 25 km south of Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park and is said to be the best photographic view in Death Valley.

For those who love wide open spaces, an unobstructed view of the night sky and zillions of stars, well Death Valley might just be the perfect campground for you.

Death Valley National Park straddles eastern California and Nevada. It’s best known for Titus Canyon, which has a ghost town and colorful rocks, and the Badwater Basin’s salt flats. Most notably, Death Valley is North America’s lowest, hottest, driest, and most fearsome park in the United States.

North of the spiky salt mounds known as the Devil’s Golf Course, campers can find another icon famous to the valley—rattlesnakes. Lots of rattlesnakes live in Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. They share the land with scorpions, black widow spiders, bees, wasps, coyotes, and mountain lions. To avoid getting hurt, avoid all contact with wild animals. Do not feed coyotes, and always look first before placing your hands or feet anywhere.

There is good news about the park. It has 12 great campgrounds—nine of which are operated by the park service and another three private campgrounds. These national park campgrounds are:

death valley camping

Stovepipe Wells
Credit to hotelscombined.com

  • Furnace Creek
  • Sunset
  • Texas Springs
  • Stovepipe Wells
  • Mesquite Springs
  • Emigrant (Tents only)
  • Wildrose
  • Thorndike
  • Mahogany Flat 

With the exception of Furnace Creek Campground in the heart of Death Valley, all park service campgrounds are first-come, first-served. Furnace Creek accepts reservations through recreation.gov.  It is very rare for all campgrounds to fill up in Death Valley. Sure, all of the “good sites” may be taken during busy times, but there is typically space at Sunset Campground (no tables, hookups, or fire pits) even during the busiest of times. The high season is from November through March as well as all holidays from October through May.

So, if, for some reason, you want to spend a holiday in Death Valley, especially in winter or spring, make reservations or arrive early to get a site. You might get a scrap of shade from a mesquite tree, but for the most part, Death Valley campsites are open and exposed. The exceptions are the two high-country campgrounds in the Panamint Mountains—Thorndike and Mahogany Flat. But those campground require high clearance and sometimes a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach.

If Death Valley Had an Actual Heart, it Would Be Here

If Death Valley National Park had a heart it would be Furnace Creek. Makes sense right? Fire and furnace and all that. So if you want to camp in the heart of Death Valley, this is where you want to head. These campgrounds have full services, including gas and a general store, and the park’s visitor center is located here. These campgrounds are well situated for exploring the park in any direction if you’re looking for a base camp to operate out of.

Furnace Creek

death valley camping

Credit to Wikipedia

More info here

Furnace Creek is the only campground in the park that takes reservations. Yes. It’s that popular. The campground has 136 sites with water and flush toilets. There are only 18 sites with full hookups. It is very rare to have the opportunity to stay in one of these sites without a reservation. In the case where a hookup site is not reserved, it is only open for a very brief period before the next incoming reservation arrives. Reservations must be made at least 4 days in advance, but can be made up to 6 months in advance. All unreserved walk-in sites are open first come/first served for a period of 1 night up to 4 nights depending on the next incoming reservation. These opportunities are available in person at the kiosk only.

Furnace Creek Campground is the campground nearest the park visitor center, the general store and all Furnace Creek services, including a dump station. RVers can get drinking water at the dump station, while tent campers can get it in the campground. Each site has either a campfire ring or grill. A campground host lives on the grounds during winter.

Amenities:

  • Accessible Sites
  • Accessible Trails
  • Biking
  • Campfire Rings
  • Drinking Water
  • Dump Station
  • Flush Toilets
  • Grills
  • Host
  • Parking
  • Picnic Tables
  • RV Parking
  • Ranger Station

Texas Spring Campground

death valley camping

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More info here

Texas Springs Rd

Furnace Creek, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-3200

Texas Spring has 92 sites with water and flush toilets divided into two loops. The lower loop is reserved for tents only, and the upper loop is for tents and RVs (there are no hookups). Every site has picnic tables and fire rings available for use. In the lower loop, you can find a few shaded spots among the sparse shrubs and foliage, but other than that the campsite does not provide any shade.

The lower tent camping areas are a little more private and spaced out compared to other park campgrounds. The campground also has a weirdly erie energy. Most campers say it feels quiet and removed, kind of like the feeling you might get in a horror movie before the creepy music starts playing. Just kidding! But it is kind of a different vibe. If you like being alone in a quiet setting, this is a great place to shoot for.

Texas Spring is located in a hilly badlands landscape across the road from Furnace Creek Ranch, and is also near the general store and all Furnace Creek services. Restrooms with flushing toilets and potable water stations are located in the upper and lower areas of the campground. Texas Spring is only open from October 15 through May 1. The only form of payment accepted here is a credit card, so be sure to bring yours with you. You’ll also need a national parks pass to stay here (another fee).

Generators are prohibited in Texas Springs Campground, except from April 16 to May 15 in the upper loop from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Sunset Campground

death valley camping

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More info here

Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-3200

Sunset Campground has 270 sites with water and flush toilets. Like the other two private campgrounds, it’s also located near the general store and all Furnace Creek services.

It’s also directly across the road from Furnace Creek Ranch. Open October 15 to May 1.

Mesquite Spring

death valley camping

Photo by Philip Beale

More info here

Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-3200

Mesquite Spring has 30 campsites that can accommodate tents and RVs no longer than 35 feet. This is the only campground in the northern park of the park. It’s about a 15-minute drive from Scotty’s Castle and is located about an hour and 15 minutes north of Furnace Creek.

The campground has potable water, fire pits with a barbecue, a dump station, and flushing toilets. Individual campsites are sectioned off by rows of piled rock and are on a first-come, first-served basis with no reservations available. This is actually one of, if not the best of the park’s campgrounds. It’s close to the Grapevine Ranger Station, and only minutes from Ubehebe Crater, Scotty’s Castle, and the access road to the Racetrack Playa. With it’s higher elevation, like 2,000 feet higher than Badwater Basin, the campground is much cooler. Being in the north end of the park, it’s a little off of the beaten path, so it’s not as busy as the Furnace Creek or Stovepipe Wells area campsites.

Emigrant

death valley camping

Credit to CampingRoadTrip.com

More info here

Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-3200

This is a small, tents only campground with 10 sites for tents only. There is potable water and flush toilets. On Highway 190.

Wildrose

death valley camping

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Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-3200

Wildrose is another popular campsite. There are 23 sites with water and pit toilets. At 4,100 feet in the Panamint Mountains, it’s a cooler option when the valley floor is baking hot.

Thorndike

death valley camping

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Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-3200

Thorndike has six campsites with pit toilets, and no water. You need to be self-contained, or pack in all your water. The campground is surrounded by pinyon pines, offering some shade, but it’s still plenty hot. Open March through November. Much cooler than valley floor. Don’t roll in the in family SUV. This campground requires a high-clearance vehicle (think pickup truck) and sometimes four-wheel drive, depending on the road conditions.

Mahogany Flat

death valley camping

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More info here

Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-3200

10 sites with pit toilets, no water. At 8,200 feet in the Panamints, surrounded by pinyon pines, great views of Death Valley. Open March through November. Much cooler than valley floor. Requires high-clearance vehicle and sometimes four-wheel drive, depending on road conditions.

Death Valley Camping—Private Campgrounds

Stovepipe Wells RV Park

death valley camping

Credit to nps.gov

More info here

51880 Highway 190

Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-2387

Stovepipe Wells Village offers 14 full-hookup RV sites for $40 per night, and is adjacent to the General Store. Spots fill up quickly so use their online reservations system to search for and secure available dates. The RV fee includes access to the swimming pool and Wi-Fi access in the hotel lobby.

If you’re looking for a more rustic camping experience, the National Park Service operates a rustic campground at Stovepipe Wells Village. There are 190 sites there. They are available on a first-come-first-serve basis from October through April for $12 a night. No hookups are available at these sites, but all 190 sites do have water. There are flush toilets, and a gas station nearby. It’s a short walk to the general store and restaurant on Highway 190.

Furnace Creek Ranch/Fiddlers Creek Campground

death valley camping

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More info here

The Oasis at Death Valley

Death Valley National Park

Highway 190

Death Valley CA 92328

Phone: (760) 786-2345

Furnace Creek RV Resort is a small, private (open to the public) campground with 36 RV sites with water, flush toilets, showers, and full hookups. It is adjacent to Furnace Creek Ranch, the general store, and the Death Valley Visitor Center. Bonuses are the free wi-fi, and a short walk to the swimming pool. Sites at each location do not have picnic tables or grills, but community fire pits and picnic areas are located in two central locations in the campground.

Campers must be self-contained as there is no water or toilets. Adjacent to park visitor center and near general store and all Furnace Creek services. Bonuses: free wi-fi, and short walk to swimming pool.

With a nightly rental, guests enjoy the Ranch’s natural spring-fed swimming pool, shower facility, coin operated laundry and sports courts including a Tennis Court, Shuffleboard, Volleyball, Bocce Ball and Basketball Court. The Campground is located close to the Ranch’s restaurants, as well as the General Store for camping supplies, groceries and mementos to remember your journey. Furnace Creek Golf Course is directly adjacent to the Campground for those who want to golf the lowest elevation course in the world. (These sites do not have water, sewer or electrical hookups and are back-in only)

Amenities:

  • Sites at each location do not have picnic tables or grills, but community fire pits and picnic areas are located in two central locations in the campground.
  • All sites are back-in only; no pull-through options exist.
  • Shower facilities are located at the Furnace Creek Ranch pool.
  • Quiet hours are 11 p.m. – 7 a.m., but generators may be run at night.
  • No more than one tent is allowed in each site.
  • There is a limit of 8 guests and one vehicle per site.
  • Tow cars or other vehicles may be parked in the adjacent Ranch or golf course parking lot.
  • Pads are not required under jacks or stabilizers.

Panamint Springs Resort

death valley camping

Credit to TripAdvisor

More info here

Physical Address Only (no mail)

40440 Highway 190

Panamint Springs, CA

Phone: (775) 482-7680

If you like rustic, canvas tents, and cots, you’ll love Panamint Springs Resorts tent cabins. Bedding rental is $10 a night, or bring your own. Pets are $5 per pet, per night. No smoking or cooking inside the tent cabins. Each tent cabin site has a fire ring. Tent cabins do not have electricity, lighting, heat, or cooling and unless you’re packing a battery operated fan or a solar system don’t plan on the air moving around much in these tents unless nature provides a breeze. If you’ve brought your own tent, there are 22 tent sites to choose from—for only $10.00 per night for up to 5 people.

Panamint Spring’s tent sites allow for one tent and one vehicle per site. If you need space for more tents or extra vehicles you will need to rent additional sites. All sites have fire pits and most sites have picnic tables. So, picnic tables not guaranteed at every site.

Bringing your RV? There are 10 Full-hookup Sites (30 and 50 amp): $40.00 per night

Electricity, water, and sewer hookup for each site. All sites have fire pits and picnic tables.

The bad news is, the only availability for these sites is from June 1 – November 10. After November 11, only six full hookup sites will be available until they can create more. Their goal is to create all new full hookup sites that provide clean power and zero in site dump spills/overflows to ensure each guest has a pleasurable experience.

*Be advised: Their current electricity is produced by a diesel generator and the power is not as clean as line power. Some new RVs may have issues with our electricity.

28 Dry Sites (no hookups) are also available. There are no hookups. All sites have fire pits and some have picnic tables. Picnic tables not guaranteed. Only 9 of the 28 sites can be reserved in advance. The remaining sites are Walk-in Only. Showers are included with the site fee for all campsites and tent cabins. They are located in the restroom facilities and do not require coins to operate. Showers are available without a campsite as well. Please inquire at the general store.

For pets in RV or tents sites, there is an additional charge of $5.00 per pet for the duration of stay.

Death Valley Camping — Things You Should Knowdeath valley camping

Just because everything looks dead, or about to become dead, doesn’t mean there aren’t rules. Here are some you should pay attention to unless you enjoy spending your hard earned money on fines:

Campsite Limits:

Campsites are limited to no more than eight people and two vehicles or one recreational vehicle per site. Larger groups wishing to camp together can reserve group sites at the Furnace Creek Campground. Furnace Creek Campground has a limit of 14 days per calendar year. The rest of Death Valley National Park has a 30-day per calendar year camping limit.

Generator hours:

You may only operate your generator from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., unless otherwise posted. Generators are prohibited in Texas Springs Campground, except from April 16 to May 15 in the upper loop from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Pets:

Pets must never be left unattended. There is a maximum limit of 4 pets per campsite and pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times. Pet owners are responsible for cleanup and cleanup supplies.

Campfires:

All vegetation in the park is protected. Firewood is available at Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells General Stores, or you can bring your own supply. Charcoal producing fires may only be made in NPS fire pits. All stoves and grills must be gas burning. Fires are prohibited in the summer months (June 15-September 15) or other periods of high fire danger at Mahogany Flat, Thorndike, and Wildrose Campgrounds.

Hiking:

The best time to hike in Death Valley is from November through March. Summer temperatures can be dangerous in the park’s lower elevations. Even during spring and autumn the heat can be unbearable for most people. Save the low elevation hikes for the cooler winter days. The high peaks are a pleasant escape from the heat in summer, but are usually covered with snow in the winter and spring. If you must climb them during winter season, be sure to be properly equipped with adequate winter clothing, an ice axe and crampons.

Water:

Due to the dry climate of Death Valley, you must drink more water here than in other places, even in the cooler winter months. Always carry adequate water (at least 2 liters for a short winter day hike, one gallon or more for longer warm season hikes and overnighters). Springs are rare and should not be considered reliable. Boil or treat water from these sources before using.