Death Valley National Park

 

Death Valley is one of the most convenient "go to" spots from Las Vegas.  Depending on where you want to go, sites can be anywhere from 2 hours away to 5 hours away (for the Racetrack Playa) or more.  Since the entire National Monument is remote, chances are you will have Bortle 2 or better skies!

about the sites:

WELCOME SIGN          N 36° 49' 58.08"  W 116° 52' 53.18

Entering Death Valley from the east, you pass through Beatty, Nevada.  This town of 1,000 inhabitants is a colorful mix of modern and historic; embracing it's past as a center of Nevada mining while welcoming tourists with modern amenities.  The famous ghost town of Rhyolite is 4 miles west.  
According to
www.LightPollutionMap.info, the Welcome Sign is a Bortle Class 2 location.
From Las Vegas, take US-95 north for 119 miles (1.75 hrs) to Beatty.  Take a left onto Main St. (NV 374 S) and drive about 9 Miles.  It's on the right.

HOLE IN THE WALL TRAIL          N 36° 24' 23.27"  W 116° 45' 46.59

Directly across from the one-way "20 Mule Team Road", this path follows a sandy dry river bed ("arroyo"). I only drove about a mile and half to avoid the car lights on Highway 190.  
According to
www.LightPollutionMap.info, this is a Bortle Class 2 location, but I found it darker than most Bortle 2's.
From Las Vegas, take US-95 north for about 80 miles until you reach the Armagosa Exit (Highway NV 373 S), take a left.  In about 25 miles, you will reach Death Valley Junction.  You can't really miss it; it has the only buildings for MILES.  Take a right onto CA 190 and follow that North until you see the EXIT sign (Do Not Enter) for the 20 Mule Team Road, then start looking on the right hand side for a dirt road  That's it!

BADWATER VALLEY          N 36° 20' 51.75"  W 116° 51' 43.78

This is what people picture when you say, "Death Valley".  The lowest place in America at 282 feet below sea level, the wide valley is covered with a white layer of... table salt!  Seriously!  Although I wouldn't try tasting it because it's mixed with borax and gypsum as well. The spot I chose is pretty smack-dab in the center of the valley near what's called "The Devil's Golf Course". 
According to
www.LightPollutionMap.info, the Badwater Basin is a Bortle Class 2 location due to light from Los Angeles in the southwest and Las Vegas to the southeast.
There are a number of routes from Las Vegas, but the easiest is to drive North on Highway 95, and exit after about 70 miles (Nevada 373).  Continue West until you reach Death Valley Junction.  You will take a right BEFORE reaching the buildings (it's a semi-ghost town with some creepy white buildings).  This RIGHT turn will place you on California 190.  Drive about 29 miles until you reach Badwater Road and drive 6 miles. You then take a right onto West Side Road.  Drive until you find a nice turn out (I went about a mile before pulling over).

FURNACE CREEK WASH RD.           35°54'25.95"N  116°17'57.72"W

One of the things I love about living out here in the West, you can be on your way to ONE place, but find a nice little turn out and decide to photograph THERE instead.  While visiting Delight's Hot Springs in Tecopa, I decided to drive North and just find some nice remote spot.:
According to
www.LightPollutionMap.info, this area is a Bortle Class 2 location.
From Las Vegas, Make your way South on the I-15 and exit at Blue Diamond. Then drive about 46 miles West until you see the LEFT turn (across the divided highway) onto Old Spanish Road.  It comes up quickly, so keep an eye out for a VERY TALL radio tower on the right hand side of the highway.  This tower is directly across from the exit you want.  If you reach Pahrump, you've gone too far (that's okay, you can still catch the highway 178/372-Shoshone turn instead).  After turning onto Old Spanish Road, you will wind around, climb up to Immigrant Pass and down the other side.  Overall, you will drive about 26 miles before coming to a "Y" intersection (in Tecopa itself)... HANG RIGHT.. after another 2 miles you will see Delight's Hot Springs on the right.
From there, you will drive to California 127.  Turn right (North) as if you're going to Shoshone, but take an IMMEDIATE left onto Furnace Creek Road (really!  it's only like 700 feet between the turns)  Find a nice turn out and enjoy (I drove about 2.5 miles)

NOTE:

My August 2021 trip to photograph the Perseids was ALSO in Death Valley (at Dante's View) but this trip has it's own page, HERE: Perseids 2021

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