Death Valley – lowest, driest and hottest area in North America. Death Valley National Park – 3 million acres of wilderness. Huge.
Driest and hottest – on the average. It also snows, rains, has big winds. Check the current weather.
DV Personal Favorites
- Salt Creek Desert Pupfish
- The Grotto
- Darwin Falls
- Panamint Dunes
- Ubehebe Peak
- Flowers and wildlife…
If you want to explore beyond the well-known tourist areas, I recommend these excellent guidebooks.
A virtual adventure awaits in this next book – Badwater to Stovepipe Wells to Saline Valley, over the Inyo to Owens Valley and finally on to Mt. Whitney…
If you want to go where (almost) no one else goes – and have the skills, equipment and fortitude – try your hand at canyoneering. You can Google Death Valley Canyoneering, or here’s the most extensive list of DV canyons I’ve ever seen.
Fair warning – DV canyoneering is not a casual undertaking. Long approaches, elaborate route finding, loose rock, sketchy anchors (deadman, knot blocks, retrievables…), car spots. If you’re not already an expert, go with someone that is.
Having done exactly one DV canyoneering outing, I obviously can’t speak for all canyons, but I suspect you’ll be confronted by the dead man anchor in most canyons.
Knowledge is power – here’s a video – starring the incomparable Tom Jones – on setting up a dead man.
I carry webbing, quick links and possibly some old climbing gear to back up anything I don’t like. Some dead man setups I’ve seen look bomber. Some were literally a pile of rocks on the edge of a cliff – I really like to back those up.
Rock Climbing in the Area
I’m not aware (and I’ve looked hard) of a lot of high quality climbing in DV itself.
That said, The Grotto from the bottom up has lots of fairly short up and down climbing problems to solve. Face climbs, polished pouroffs, bouldering, even a climb next to a big chockstone where you can practice your crack technique. Carrying climbing shoes might improve your day. A harness and a cordelette (and even an etrier) might improve results for less experienced party members.
Guidebooks for some nearby spots:
Closest crag mentioned in the Southern California Rock Climbing guidebook – Great Falls Basin is west of a turnoff ~5 miles north of Trona. Granite sport climbing.
Or for much more extensive climbing roughly the same distance away – Alabama Hills near Lone Pine.
And, if you’re coming or going from the east, Red Rock Canyon NCA is roughly the same distance away and there are more than a few climbs there…