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The Good 7-Day California Desert Street Journey Itinerary


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What do you get once you mix nationwide parks, desert landscapes, and a touch of the historical past of the American West? You get the makings for a fairly superb street journey by means of the California desert.

When my good friend Kat and I made a decision to plan a street journey collectively, I knew I did not wish to go someplace that both of us had already been earlier than. As we tossed round concepts, crossing off street journeys within the Southwest and New England, we quickly found that we each had Loss of life Valley and Joshua Tree on our to-do lists.

And so the concept for a weeklong California desert street journey was born! In fact, what we did not understand on the time was that there is extra to this a part of the US than simply Loss of life Valley and Joshua Tree, and {that a} week wasn’t going to be practically sufficient time!

Amanda at Red Rock Canyon
Considering the way to add extra time to this itinerary at Pink Rock Canyon.

However, in the event you’re like us and wish to dedicate a while to this a part of the nation, here is a street journey itinerary you possibly can be at liberty to steal.

When to plan a California desert street journey

Particularly in the event you’re wanting to go to locations like Loss of life Valley and Joshua Tree nationwide parks, then the very best time to go to is when it is cooler. Summertime is perhaps the most well-liked time for street tripping within the US, but it surely’s the worst time to go to this a part of the nation.

Loss of life Valley, for instance, is likely one of the hottest and driest locations on earth, and the encircling desert areas aren’t a lot cooler. Triple-digit temperatures are the norm right here in the summertime, and you do not wish to be spending a lot outing within the solar when it is that sizzling.

Late fall and winter are conducive to mountain climbing, however I personally would select early spring. Within the spring, temperatures are nonetheless pretty delicate, AND you profit from barely longer days, which means extra time to spend exploring.

Joshua Tree National Park
Delicate temperatures are undoubtedly finest for Joshua Tree!

Kat and I did this journey in late February, and it was nearly good weather-wise (although nonetheless fairly chilly at night time!).

7-Day California desert street journey itinerary

Listed here are all of the highlights of this itinerary. Learn on for full particulars!

  • Day 1: Pink Rock Canyon and Loss of life Valley
  • Day 2: Full day in Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park
  • Day 3: Alabama Hills and Manzanar Nationwide Historic Website
  • Day 4: Drive to Joshua Tree
  • Day 5: Full day in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park
  • Day 6: Mojave Desert, Seven Magic Mountains and Las Vegas
  • Day 7: Valley of Hearth

This itinerary covers roughly 1125 miles of driving.

Amanda on Movie Road in Alabama Hills
Film Street in Alabama Hills

Earlier than we dive in right here, it is necessary to notice that this itinerary does embody traversing by means of or close to the normal and ancestral territory of many Indigenous peoples, together with the Western Shoshone, Timbisha Shoshone, Southern Paiute, Serrano, and others. It is necessary to respect the land and its historical past as we journey.

Day 1: Pink Rocks to Loss of life Valley

We’re beginning out early on Day 1 from Las Vegas – so you might have to fly within the night earlier than. That is what Kat and I did, selecting up our automotive from an off-airport location at first of Day 1 to save lots of a bit of cash.

Must lease a automotive for this street journey? There is not any scarcity of rental automotive choices in Las Vegas. Needless to say you would possibly be capable to get monetary savings by selecting up from a location that is NOT on the airport. I all the time use DiscoverCars.com to match automotive rental costs within the US. Seek for rental automobiles right here.

Then we hit the street, however solely drove about half an hour to our first cease: Pink Rock Canyon Nationwide Conservation Space.

Red Rock Canyon
The pink rocks actually are pink!

Pink Rock Canyon is a beautiful spot with a 13-mile scenic loop drive and a number of other cool mountain climbing choices. It is managed by the Nationwide Park Service, which means {that a} Nationwide Park Go works right here – although be aware that you just do have to pre-book a timeslot to drive the scenic loop throughout peak season from October 1 by means of Could 31. Extra information right here.

Begin out on the Pink Rock Canyon Customer Middle (which is definitely glorious and has a bunch of out of doors shows detailing how this place was shaped), after which head out on the scenic loop drive.

Enable not less than 2 hours (if no more!) to do the drive and cease for a number of quick hikes. Kat and I loved enjoying a bit on the rocks at Calico Tanks, noticed the petroglyphs close to Willow Springs, and hiked the Misplaced Creek path.

Calico Tanks at Red Rock Canyon
At Calico Tanks
Lost Creek trail at Red Rocks Canyon
Misplaced Creek path

From Pink Rock Canyon, you will wish to head east on Nevada SR 160. Should you plan forward (not like us), you might pack a lunch and revel in it at a picnic space inside Pink Rock Canyon. In any other case, a enjoyable place to cease is at Maria’s Taco Store at Mountain Springs Saloon. Seize some scrumptious and genuine tacos or burritos, and seize a drink contained in the quirky saloon.

From right here, it is about an hour till you cross the border into California and hit Loss of life Valley Junction, the place you will begin heading into Loss of life Valley itself.

Professional tip: Think about topping up your fuel tank BEFORE you get into Loss of life Valley. Companies are few and much between, and the fuel costs contained in the nationwide park are insane.

When you have the time (and you must!), I like to recommend making the slight detour off California 190 to go to Dante’s View this afternoon/for sundown. This is likely one of the prime spots to go to in Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park.

The view from Dante's View in Death Valley
Dante’s View

Observe Dante’s View Street for 13 miles till it ends at a big car parking zone simply steps from the point of view. Right here, at 5,575 ft up, you get unimaginable views down into Badwater Basin and throughout the valley to Telescope Peak.

There are trails alongside the ridge in each instructions, too, if you wish to spend a while exploring. (Simply be aware that being greater than a mile up means it may be COLD, particularly in the course of the winter months. There was nonetheless snow on the bottom once we visited in February!)

Dante's View trail with snow
Sure, that is snow alongside the path!
Amanda at Kat at Dante's View
Do not let the sun shades idiot you; we would have liked the nice and cozy layers up right here!

Then, it is time to head in your lodging for tonight.

Complete driving time: 4-4.5 hours in the event you keep in Loss of life Valley

Sample prices: Pink Rock Canyon entry payment: $15 (with out a Nationwide Park Go)

The place to remain in Loss of life Valley: I like to recommend staying inside Loss of life Valley tonight so that you will have a shorter drive tomorrow. Your finest choices are The Inn at Loss of life Valley in Furnace Creek (an upscale, historic park lodge), and the Stovepipe Wells Village Resort (a extra rustic choice). You possibly can additionally keep in Beatty or Lone Pine, however be aware that that can imply extra driving tonight.

Be aware: Since this itinerary contains a number of Nationwide Park Service websites, an annual Nationwide Park Go (AKA an “America the Stunning Annual Go”) will not be a nasty factor to have! It prices $80 and is sweet in any respect fee-charging NPS websites for one yr. You possibly can buy a move on-line, or in particular person at any nationwide park.

Day 2: Loss of life Valley

Right now goes to be your huge Loss of life Valley day! And, despite the fact that Loss of life Valley is the most important nationwide park within the decrease 48, you truly can hit all the main highlights in someday with out speeding an excessive amount of.

Loss of life Valley doesn’t have an entrance station like many different nationwide parks, so you must begin your day in the present day with a cease on the Furnace Creek Customer Middle to both buy your move, or to have your annual move authenticated. You may get a slip of paper to show inside your automotive displaying that you’ve got paid your payment.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center temperature gauge in Death Valley
The well-known Loss of life Valley temperature show can be outdoors the Customer Middle.

The customer middle is value exploring, too, and has some actually good reveals on the geological and human historical past of Loss of life Valley. It is value noting that Loss of life Valley is certainly one of just some nationwide parks that gave land again to its conventional house owners; the Timbisha Shoshone nonetheless reside inside elements of Loss of life Valley in the present day.

Should you begin your day early sufficient, you possibly can head to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes subsequent, that are among the most accessible sand dunes within the park. They’re often very empty earlier than about 10 a.m., and going within the morning will even imply it will not be tremendous sizzling but (these are sand dunes in a desert, so there’s zero shade).

Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes in Death Valley
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Amanda at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Positively enjoyable to play within the dunes right here!

You possibly can simply spend an hour or two mountain climbing by means of the dunes, or you might simply make a fast picture cease. (You possibly can additionally go to these dunes for sundown as an alternative – extra on this later!)

Subsequent, I like to recommend heading to Zabriskie Level, the place a surprising viewpoint provides you views of the Panamint Mountains and the jutting rock face of Manly Beacon. It is a common dawn spot in Loss of life Valley, however the views are nice anytime earlier than noon, when the solar is shining on Manly Beacon.

When you have the time and it is not too sizzling, there are some hikes that begin at Zabriskie Level, together with the two.7-mile Badlands Loop path.

Incredible views at Zabriskie Point
Unbelievable views at Zabriskie Level

Professional tip: There are locations to refill a water bottle on the Furnace Creek Customer Middle, however few different contemporary water sources in the principle elements of the park. I like to recommend swinging by a grocery retailer (BEFORE you attain the park) and selecting up a 2- or 5-gallon jug of water to maintain in your automotive. It is going to be fantastic within the trunk for a day or two.

From Zabriskie Level, head into the guts of Loss of life Valley down Badwater Street. Your vacation spot would be the iconic Badwater Basin, the bottom level in North America at 282 ft under sea stage.

Lots of people simply cease right here for a photograph, and possibly stroll out just a little methods into the salt flats, however I like to recommend coming ready with a picnic lunch and mountain climbing out into the basin (once more, ONLY in the event you’re visiting throughout a cooler month, as there is no shade right here both; carry loads of water!).

Kat and I had a picnic lunch and picture shoot a couple of mile out into Badwater Basin, the place the salt types cool hexagonal shapes on the bottom.

Amanda with the Badwater Basin sign
It is a enjoyable picture…
Amanda on the salt flats in Badwater Basin
… however this one is much more enjoyable!

From Badwater Basin, you can also make a photograph cease at Satan’s Golf Course earlier than doing the 9-mile Artist’s Drive. This scenic drive is very gorgeous within the afternoon, and it is properly value stopping at Artist’s Palette (there is a marked parking space about midway alongside the scenic drive) for some pictures.

You may also hike into the multi-colored hills right here, which I extremely advocate!

Amanda hiking into Artist's Palette
Mountaineering into Artist’s Palette

It should probably be late afternoon by this level, so it is time to begin making your manner out of Loss of life Valley. You possibly can make yet another cease at Concord Borax Works, the place there is a .4-mile paved path that loops across the former mine web site with interpretive panels.

I like to recommend driving by means of the mountains to Lone Pine this night, as it’ll make tomorrow’s plan simpler. Relying on what time of yr you are visiting, although, this might imply that a part of your drive shall be at midnight, and there are some steep mountain roads to navigate.

If that does not hassle you, although, you will be passing by the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes once more, and will cease for sundown. From the dunes, it is a couple of 90-minute drive to Lone Pine.

Death Valley National Park sign
If it is nonetheless mild in your manner out, there’s additionally a Loss of life Valley park signal on the way in which to Lone Pine.

When you make it to the quirky city of Lone Pine, there are a number of dinner choices to select from.

Complete driving time: 3-4 hours (which incorporates time driving within the park)

Pattern prices: Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park: $30 per automotive (if you do not have an annual parks move)

The place to remain in Lone Pine: There are a number of motels in Lone Pine, with the Greatest Western Plus Frontier Motel and the Dow Villa Motel being the best rated. There are additionally some good trip leases in Lone Pine.

RELATED: 10 of the Greatest Issues to Do in Loss of life Valley Nationwide Park

Day 3: Alabama Hills and Manzanar

There is a good probability you’ve got by no means heard of the little city of Lone Pine, California earlier than – and that is okay! It is a city of fewer than 2,000 individuals, however what it lacks in inhabitants it makes up for with an Previous West really feel and a few gorgeous views.

Sunrise hitting the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Views from our Lone Pine trip rental

Lone Pine sits within the Owens Valley in between the Sierra Nevada and the Inyo mountains. That means there are some severely epic views to be seen right here!

Begin your morning off proper with breakfast at Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery, which is a favourite with each guests and locals. Should you sit outdoors, you possibly can even have breakfast with a view of the mountains.

Cinnamon roll from Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery
Get a cinnamon roll; you will not remorse it.
Breakfast at Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery
SUCH a great breakfast!

After breakfast, you possibly can head to Alabama Hills, a recreation space within the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that is cared for by the Bureau of Land Administration. Alabama Hills is a well-liked backcountry tenting spot, however can be dwelling to some mountain climbing trails and views of Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain within the contiguous United States.

The doorway is only a 5-10 minute drive from Lone Pine off Whitney Portal Street. Be aware that the principle street by means of Alabama Hills is unpaved, but it surely’s simply satisfactory in an everyday automotive so long as you drive sluggish.

Mount Whitney views in Alabama Hills
There’s Mount Whitney within the middle there

There are many locations to cease for pictures as you drive by means of Alabama Hills, however Kat and I made for a stretch of street merely known as “Film Street,” named as such as a result of lots of of flicks and commercials have been filmed right here.

A selected stretch of this street (and sure, it is proven on Google Maps as “Film Street”) traverses up a steep hill, and in the event you flip round, there’s an iconic view again in the direction of the mountain vary. It is best to go to this spot in the course of the morning hours, when the solar shines onto the face of the mountains.

Amanda on the unpaved Movie Road in Alabama Hills
Photograph enjoyable on Film Street

After a number of “enjoying within the street” pictures, we backtracked a bit and did a brief loop hike known as the Arch Loop Path. There are a number of pure stone arches alongside this path, with the most important being Mobius Arch. You possibly can climb up into the arch (although please do not attempt to climb on prime of it!) and take some cool pictures with the mountains within the background.

Amanda sitting inside Mobius Arch
Sitting inside Mobius Arch
Hiking the Arch Loop Trail in Alabama Hills
Mountaineering the Arch Loop Path

Alabama Hills is a enjoyable place to probe for a few hours (although, simply as in Loss of life Valley, I solely advocate mountain climbing right here in the event you’re visiting in the course of the cooler months!).

Head again into Lone Pine for a fast lunch, after which it is solely a 15-minute drive up US-395 to your subsequent cease at Manzanar Nationwide Historic Website.

Manzanar is a spot many individuals (even People) do not know a lot about, which is why you must undoubtedly think about visiting when you’re close by.

Manzanar National Historic Site visitor center

Managed by the Nationwide Park Service in the present day, Manzanar initially served as certainly one of 10 “Struggle Relocation Camps” throughout WWII, the place Japanese-People had been imprisoned by the US authorities after Japan’s assault on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

In whole, 120,000+ individuals of Japanese descent (lots of them Americans) had been rounded up from cities alongside the West Coast and despatched inland to prison-like camps. Manzanar was an lively camp from 1942-1945, housing roughly 10,000 individuals within the dusty Owens Valley in California.

Visiting Manzanar will not be what I might name a “enjoyable” expertise, however I feel it is extremely necessary to go to locations like this when you’ve got the possibility. Uncomfortable historical past is arguably a very powerful type of historical past to witness, and hopefully study from.

Inside the Manzanar visitor center
Contained in the Manzanar customer middle
A scale model of the Manzanar camp
A scale mannequin of the Manzanar camp

A go to begins on the Nationwide Park Service-run customer middle and museum, the place you may get an outline of the Manzanar camp and the occasions that led to those locations present. Then you possibly can go to numerous buildings which were reconstructed all through the big camp by way of a self-guided driving tour.

You possibly can go inside barracks, the place as much as 8 individuals would share one small open “house”; roam round in a multitude corridor; see what the communal latrines seemed like; and go to a small cemetery.

This is part of American historical past that many individuals do not study in class (I personally do not bear in mind any college classes on these Japanese jail camps), which makes preserving and visiting locations like this much more very important.

A sample "apartment" at Manzanar
A pattern “house” at Manzanar
Paper cranes at a small Japanese cemetery
Small cemetery at Manzanar

It is easy to spend 2-3 hours exploring the Manzanar web site, so I like to recommend taking your time and having a calming out night time again in Lone Pine afterwards. There are a pair good taco vans to strive in Lone Pine (like Tacos Los Hermanos Meals Truck and Castro’s Taco Stand) in the event you’re craving extra Mexican meals.

Complete driving time: 1.5 hours

Pattern prices: None in the present day; each Alabama Hills and Manzanar are free to go to

The place to remain in Lone Pine: There are a number of motels in Lone Pine, with the Greatest Western Plus Frontier Motel and the Dow Villa Motel being the best rated. There are additionally some good trip leases in Lone Pine.

Professional tip: There’s little or no cell or GPS sign all through a lot of this a part of California, so if you are going to be counting on cell maps in any respect, be sure you obtain them to make use of offline (here is an explainer on the way to do it in Google Maps), or get an app like Maps.me that works offline.

Day 4: To Joshua Tree

You possibly can have a leisurely morning in the present day (possibly one other breakfast at Alabama Hills Cafe & Bakery?), after which pack up and put together to go south.

If it is of curiosity to you, the Museum of Western Movie Historical past is positioned in Lone Pine and opens at 10 a.m. A whole bunch of flicks and commercials have been filmed round Lone Pine, together with a number of Westerns. The museum chronicles the historical past of Western films on this a part of California, and has a number of film memorabilia inside.

Museum of Western Film History in Lone Pine
Museum of Western Movie Historical past

When you hit the street, it is just a little underneath 4 hours to get to Joshua Tree.

A enjoyable roadside cease simply south of Lone Pine is on the Olancha Sculpture Backyard, a random assortment of steel sculptures alongside the aspect of US-395.

Olancha Sculpture Garden
Olancha Sculpture Backyard

Should you’re up for a later lunch and wish to hit up a California icon, there’s an In-N-Out Burger in Barstow, lower than 2.5 hours from Lone Pine. (And sure, I do know this as a result of Kat actually needed to go to an In-N-Out on our journey, and this one was tremendous handy because it was on the way in which.)

In-n-Out Burger and fries
At all times Animal Model fries

When you get to the Joshua Tree space, you might pop into Joshua Tree Nationwide Park for sundown tonight (Key’s View might be the very best sundown spot, although would require extra driving to get to), or you possibly can simply chill out and revel in your lodging this night and prep for an early morning on Day 5.

Complete driving time: 4 hours (until you determine to go to Key’s View for sundown; then add one other 1.5 hours of driving!)

Pattern prices: Museum of Western Movie Historical past – $5

The place to remain close to Joshua Tree Nationwide Park: There are two primary cities to remain in with quick access to the nationwide park: Twentynine Palms and the city of Joshua Tree. Each have motel choices, however Airbnbs and different trip leases are literally the most well-liked right here. Design-forward desert bungalows with sizzling tubs are all the fashion right here! Seek for Joshua Tree trip leases right here.

Amanda and Kat in a hot tub at night
Our Joshua Tree rental had this superior outside house out again!

Day 5: Joshua Tree Nationwide Park

Right now goes to be the day to discover Joshua Tree Nationwide Park, and I extremely advocate biting the bullet and getting up in time to expertise dawn within the park. Kat satisfied me to do that, and it was certainly one of our favourite mornings of the entire journey!

Amanda in the Cholla Cactus Garden at sunrise
Did we go ready with our morning espresso? Or course we did.

Head into Joshua Tree Nationwide Park early, and make your manner south by means of the park to the Cholla Cactus Backyard, positioned about 12 miles from Joshua Tree’s north entrance. This cactus backyard sits throughout the Pinto Basin the place the Mojave and Colorado Deserts meet, and is crammed with close-growing teddy bear cholla cacti.

It is a panorama not like another in Joshua Tree Nationwide Park, and is very putting because the solar rises over the close by mountains to light up the semi-translucent yellow spines on the teddy bear cholla.

Cholla Cactus Garden at sunrise
Cholla Cactus Backyard at dawn
Cholla Cactus Garden at sunrise
They actually do “glow” like this!

(Simply do not get too near the crops, as these cacti are coated in tiny barbs which can be very painful to take away.)

From the cactus backyard, it is a quick drive again up Pinto Basin Street to the Arch Rock Trailhead. Arch Rock Path is a 1.4-mile path that takes you thru a little bit of desert, after which by means of some actually cool rock formations (Arch Rock itself is positioned about midway by means of the hike).

Amanda at Arch Rock
Arch Rock

I will say it as soon as extra, however I do not essentially advocate lots of mountain climbing right here until you are visiting in the course of the cooler months. Nevertheless, if you are going to the Cholla Cactus Backyard for dawn, you might in all probability match within the hike to Arch Rock even within the hotter months earlier than it will get too unbearably sizzling.

Subsequent you can also make a photograph cease at Cranium Rock, after which proceed on to Barker Dam and Hidden Valley for brief hikes earlier than lunch. (I like to recommend a picnic lunch in the present day – simply be sure you clear up your trash!)

Barker Dam hike in Joshua Tree
Mountaineering close to Barker Dam

Different issues value doing in Joshua Tree embody the Cap Rock Nature Path, Corridor of Horrors, and driving as much as Key’s View in the event you did not do it on Day 4. In your manner out of the park, the Oasis of Mara can be value stopping to see.

Key's View in Joshua Tree National Park
Key’s View

Joshua Tree will not be essentially a small nationwide park, however you possibly can undoubtedly see the principle highlights in simply someday with out an excessive amount of speeding.

RELATED: The right way to See the Highlights of Joshua Tree Nationwide Park in One Day

This night, you possibly can as soon as once more take pleasure in your lodging, and possibly exit to dinner on the Joshua Tree Saloon within the city of Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree Saloon
The Joshua Tree Saloon is a cool spot

Complete driving time: 2.5 hours (together with driving time within the park)

Pattern prices: Joshua Tree Nationwide Park payment: $30 per automotive (if you do not have an annual parks move)

The place to remain close to Joshua Tree: Once more, you possibly can keep in both Twentynine Palms or the city of Joshua Tree. Each have motel choices, however vibe-y trip leases are literally the most well-liked right here. Seek for Joshua Tree trip leases right here.

Day 6: Drive to Las Vegas

Begin your day in the present day with some caffeine from the Joshua Tree Espresso Firm, after which put together to hit the street north again to Las Vegas.

The quickest path to Vegas will take you thru the Mojave Nationwide Protect. Should you’re not in a rush, you might make a brief detour to the Kelso Dunes, that are one other set of cool sand dunes that you may climb.

Slightly methods south of Las Vegas alongside I-15, you may as well make a cease to see the Seven Magic Mountains artwork set up. This artwork piece by Ugo Rondinone consists of seven large columns of neon-painted stacked rocks. It was initially imagined to be a brief set up, however has change into semi-permanent as an alternative (thanks maybe to the positioning’s Instagram fame).

Seven Magic Mountains
Seven Magic Mountains
Amanda posing at Seven Magic Mountains
Honest warning: getting pictures with out different individuals in them right here will be powerful!

Seven Magic Mountains can typically be crowded, but it surely’s a enjoyable, fast, and free picture cease to make if you wish to see it.

From there, it is solely about 25 minutes extra to get to The Strip in Las Vegas.

Amanda at the Welcome to Las Vegas sign
Helloooo Las Vegas

It is solely as much as you the way to fill this night in Vegas. I personally do not actually gamble or drink quite a bit, however there are nonetheless so many cool issues to do in Las Vegas. Some concepts you possibly can be at liberty to steal embody:

  • Try among the hotel-casinos alongside the Strip within the afternoon (for instance, undoubtedly pop in to see the gondolas floating alongside a reproduction Grand Canal contained in the Venetian, and the Conservatory contained in the Bellagio).
  • Head to “Previous Vegas” and discover Fremont Avenue.
  • Go to the Eiffel Tower Restaurant when it opens and ask to sit down on the bar. You possibly can take pleasure in fabulous views of Vegas (and possibly even a sundown) for the value of a drink.
  • Take a tour of the Neon Museum (superior tickets required).
  • Watch the Bellagio Fountains “carry out” after darkish.

Try my complete information to non-gambling issues to do in Las Vegas for extra concepts.

The Grand Canal inside the Venetian in Las Vegas
The Grand Canal contained in the Venetian
Eiffel Tower Restaurant views
Eiffel Tower Restaurant views
Bellagio Fountains show in Las Vegas
Bellagio Fountains present

Complete driving time: 4 hours

Pattern prices: There aren’t any entry charges in the present day, until you determine to go to a paid attraction tonight in Vegas.

The place to remain in Las Vegas: An important choice is the Park MGM, which is the one totally non-smoking lodge on the Vegas Strip. The lodge has every little thing you look forward to finding in a Vegas lodge (swimming pools, a on line casino, eating places together with an enormous Eataly), however there is no smoking allowed wherever within the lodge. It is an inexpensive Vegas lodge choice, and it is simple to get from right here wherever else, both on foot or by hopping on the monorail. Resort parking right here can be solely $15 an evening!

Day 7: Valley of Hearth

Should you do not celebration too exhausting in Las Vegas on Day 6, I extremely advocate getting an early(ish) begin this morning for yet another outside journey. Situated simply an hour from Vegas sits Nevada’s very first state park, and a park that simply rivals all of the well-known nationwide parks in close by Utah.

Mouse's Tank Road in Valley of Fire State Park
Can you see the bighorn sheep crossing the street?

I am speaking about Valley of Hearth State Park, which I feel is likely one of the finest day journeys you possibly can take from Las Vegas. (Pink Rock Canyon can be superior, however I feel you will in all probability agree after you see Valley of Hearth that it is superior!)

It is a simple drive to Valley of Hearth, and the park solely prices $15 to enter. That means you *might* choose to spend simply half a day right here if you cannot lengthen your journey any longer and nonetheless wish to do/see issues in Vegas. (That is what Kat and I did since she’d by no means been to Las Vegas earlier than.)

In fact, in case you have the time, a full day in Valley of Hearth could be finest!

Road in Valley of Fire State Park
The views do not give up in Valley of Hearth

No matter whether or not you are spending just some hours or a whole day at Valley of Hearth, I like to recommend skipping the Customer Middle and rock formations close to the entrance of the park and heading for the park’s prime two hikes first: the Hearth Wave and White Domes.

These hikes are each pretty transient, however going there very first thing will imply much less crowded trails, and barely cooler climate. (I do know I sound like a damaged report, but it surely’s not advisable to do any of those hikes in the course of the summer time months, as there is no nearly shade and that is nonetheless the desert.)

Kat and I began with the Hearth Wave hike, which is a reasonably simple hike out to a rock formation that does certainly appear like a swirly “wave” of pink and white rock. The day we went (a weekday morning in February), we had the wave all to ourselves for a short while, which was superb! Photographers love this spot, as there are such a lot of distinctive angles to shoot.

Fire Wave in Valley of Fire State Park
The Hearth Wave
Amanda on the Fire Wave
Hearth Wave with me for scale

After mountain climbing again the way in which we got here (the overall hike is about 1.25 miles), we hopped within the automotive and drove a brief distance to the place the White Domes loop begins. This even shorter path has just a little little bit of every little thing, from colourful rock formations to even a really small slot canyon.

Colorful rocks on the White Domes hike
Colourful rocks on the White Domes hike
Amanda inside a small slot canyon
White Domes slot canyon

From White Domes, we stopped alongside Mouse’s Tank Street for some iconic Valley of Hearth pictures earlier than making our manner again to Las Vegas.

When you have extra time to spend, although, I like to recommend additionally going to see Elephant Rock, mountain climbing to Rainbow Vista, seeing the petroglyphs at Atlatl Rock, enjoying round in an space known as The Beehives, and stopping in to the Customer Middle earlier than leaving Valley of Hearth.

Amanda in Valley of Fire
Can by no means get sufficient of Valley of Hearth!

RELATED: The right way to Spend One Day in Valley of Hearth State Park

Again in Las Vegas, Kat and I spent a pair hours at an immersive artwork set up known as Omega Mart by Meow Wolf, inside a cool house known as Space 15. When you have the time to suit this trippy journey into your itinerary, it truly is value it!

Omega Mart by Meow Wolf
Omega Mart
Omega Mart by Meow Wolf
Additionally Omega Mart

Complete driving time: 3 hours (together with time driving in Valley of Hearth)

Pattern prices: Valley of Hearth: $15 for non-Nevada residents; Omega Mart: $55 (purchase timed tickets upfront right here)

The place to remain in Las Vegas: Once more, I like to recommend staying on the Park MGM in Las Vegas. Should you solely do a half-day at Valley of Hearth, come again right here for lunch at Eataly, and have drinks at Juniper, which is a enjoyable gin bar.

When you have extra time…

Clearly in case you have greater than every week, I would advocate spending some extra time in Las Vegas! There’s all the time loads to do to fill a number of days in Vegas, whether or not it is your first or fifteenth go to.

Different methods to increase this journey might embody spending time within the fashionable Palm Springs space earlier than Joshua Tree, or probably visiting Mammoth Lakes, or Kings Canyon and Sequoia nationwide parks after Loss of life Valley. (Simply be aware that Mammoth and people nationwide parks will be troublesome to succeed in on account of snow in the event you go to in the course of the winter months.)

Even in the event you do not lengthen this journey, although, it is nonetheless an epic weeklong journey to Vegas and the California desert!

Badlands in Death Valley
Badlands in Loss of life Valley

California desert street journey ideas

To start with, do not make these errors when planning this street journey!

And listed below are a number of extra ideas:

  1. Purchase a Nationwide Parks Go. Nationwide Park Service web site entrance charges for this street journey alone will set you again $75. Should you’ll even go to ONE extra NPS web site within the subsequent yr, then an $80 annual Nationwide Park Go will prevent some cash.
  2. Ensure you have additional water. Dehydration will not be a joke, and could be a very actual risk within the desert – even when it is not sizzling! At all times have additional water (pack a cooler in your trunk in the event you can!), since you by no means know once you would possibly want it. Most nationwide parks may have water bottle filling stations, however be sure you have a reusable water bottle (I like my Camelbak Chute) or a hydration pack with you – and refill at each alternative.
  3. Remember your journey insurance coverage. For any main journey (and particularly one the place you’re going to be driving by means of unfamiliar territory), I all the time advocate buying journey insurance coverage. Should you lease a automotive (or drive your individual), your automotive needs to be coated in case of an accident. However what about all the opposite issues that would doubtlessly occur to YOU? I like to recommend World Nomads for primary (and actually inexpensive) journey insurance coverage – since you simply by no means know!
  4. Pack sensible. I’ve an entire information to what to pack for a US street journey, however some stuff you’ll need for this explicit one embody clothes you possibly can layer, good mountain climbing boots (I like my Merrell Moabs, and my Merrell Siren 3s), a reusable water bottle, sunscreen and a good solar hat, a street atlas, and a roadside emergency equipment, as a result of there are lengthy empty stretches on this street journey itinerary!

READ NEXT: A Good 10-Day Southwest Street Journey Itinerary

Who desires to plan this journey for themselves?

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