Death Valley is a remarkable, otherworldly place where the land seems to stretch on indefinitely in a mélange of russet stone, pierced by colorful mineral deposits. It’s the last place you’d expect to see traces of human existence, but the Timbisha Native Americans have inhabited the region for the last millennium. Now it is one of America’s finest National Parks, boasting some of the highest temperatures in the world (best to avoid a trip here in the warmest months), and the lowest elevation on the North American continent. But it is also surrounded by mountains, with the mighty Sierra Nevada to the east, within which stands Mount Witney, the highest point in the contiguous United States only 85 miles (137km) away.
Visiting this seemingly barren, yet thriving, vertiginous landscape has never been easier (despite the fact that it was almost impossible and quite deadly to try more recently than a century ago). Now it is possible to visit from Las Vegas, which lies 131 miles (211km) away on a day tour, so you don’t even have to worry about driving in the challenging climate. Although quite long at over ten hours, the day tours normally manage to visit the major sights within Death Valley, particularly on the eastern side of the park where most of the more celebrated vistas lie. The following five Death Valley tours from Las Vegas are the best when taking into account the value for money, comfort, itineraries and the reviews previous guests, so let’s get to it.
Death Valley Trekker Tour from Las Vegas
FROM: $275/per person
The Trekker Tour is the only Death Valley trip from Las Vegas that runs on a daily basis. Riding in the custom-built, distinctive pink all-terrain vehicle, with tinted windows and reclining leather seats, this tour scores highly on comfort. The itinerary manages to combine the most celebrated Death Valley viewpoints of Zabriskie Point and Badwater Basin, with a trip to the remarkable Rhyolite Ghost Town. There’s also a chance to visit the Area 51 Alien Center, given that the heavily guarded base is located nearby. Lunch and all entrance fees are included. Like all tours on this list, the excursions are seasonal; during the summer months from June to August, the temperatures get so hot as to be dangerous to the health if one stays outdoors for too long.
Comprehensive tours of Death Valley are tricky to achieve in a day when visiting from Las Vegas. After all, there are endless miles of roads winding through the desert, connecting disparate points of natural and historical interest. However, this tour gives the feat its best shot and combines as many highlights as possible into its ten-hour itinerary. The classics, when visiting from Las Vegas, like Zabriskie Point and Badwater Basin are included, but so too are the sand dunes, the Devil’s Golf Course and some time for browsing the informative exhibits at Furnace Creek Visitor Center. A continental breakfast and lunch are also provided to passengers on this tour. Tours depart on Mondays and Wednesdays.
Death Valley Full Day Small Group Tour from Las Vegas
From $239/ per person
The contrast between Las Vegas and Death Valley couldn’t be greater, from the inescapable din of human existence to the wide-open wildernesses that stretch for miles in a desert vista that betrays little sign of human presence. This day-long tour hits a number of the main sights to the east and south of Furnace Creek Visitor Center, particularly those along Badwater Road, including the impressive mineral colors of Artist’s Pallet, the mirage-inducing Badwater Basin, with its cracked valley floor, and the famous Zabriskie Point, where the land never seems to sit still, forming endless peaks and troughs of dry canyons. Snacks and a light lunch are provided, as well as water to ensure you stay hydrated in the driest spot in America. Transport to and from Las Vegas is by air-conditioned bus, with the group size limited to 14. Departures are on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.
Similar to the previous three tours, this option makes Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282ft (86m) below sea level, its main port of call. In addition, you’ll visit the salt flats, colorful valleys and canyons (which are painted hues of ochre, yellow and mauve by certain minerals as they oxidize) for which the national park is revered. During the trip, your guide will regale you with tales about Las Vegas and the Death Valley, about how they were founded or discovered, and intriguing anecdotes from their histories. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is offered from most Las Vegas hotels, with the departure time usually set for 7am. This tour operates on Tuesdays and Saturdays.
4-Day Tour of Death Valley, Yosemite and San Francisco from Vegas
From $950/ per person
If a day-long tour doesn’t sound like long enough (and it really isn’t), it is possible to take a four-day tour from Las Vegas that incorporates a visit to Death Valley into a longer itinerary. It’s well worth noting that Death Valley is one of hundreds of incredible wilderness destinations in the American Southwest, all of which are within a day’s drive of Las Vegas, for the most part. And there’s a great deal of difference between the barren, lunar landscape of Death Valley and the pine-clad escarpments and waterfalls of Yosemite National Park. You also get to see the western side of Death Valley on this tour, thanks to not having to turn around and head back to Las Vegas. Also included are a number of hikes and a city highlights tour of the remarkable San Francisco. This tour departs twice weekly from your preferred Las Vegas pick-up point, on Fridays and Sundays. Please note that the tour ends in San Francisco; ideal for anybody who wishes to continue an onward USA journey, but for those wishing to return to Sin City, a return ticket must be purchased separately.