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Death Valley: Day Trips and Tours from Las Vegas

Famously heralded as one of the hottest places on earth, Death Valley is a land of extremes. Yet hidden away in this low-lying basin you will discover unexpected wildflower meadows and green oases where wildlife takes refuge.

Sprawling over 3 million acres, this remote national park features colossal sand dunes, glinting salt pans, and jagged peaks. You can easily see the highlights on a day trip to Death Valley from Las Vegas.

How to get to Death Valley from Las Vegas?

Death Valley lies around 130 miles northwest of Las Vegas in the Mojave Desert. The best way to visit is on a guided tour, or by hiring a car and exploring independently.

From Las Vegas to Death Valley by car

It only takes a couple of hours to drive to Death Valley from the Las Vegas Strip. The route is simple and scenic – just head out of the city on the NV-160 through Pahrump to the Death Valley Junction.

You do not need a 4x4 to drive on the gravel roads in the park.

Guided tour to Death Valley from Las Vegas

By far the easiest way to enjoy a day tour to Death Valley is on a guided trip. You will be picked up at your hotel or a central meeting point in Las Vegas and escorted into the heart of the national park.

Private Death Valley trips are available for those who like a little more exclusivity.

How much does the entrance ticket to Death Valley cost?

An entrance pass is required to access Death Valley. This can be purchased in advance online, or in person at various points across the park.

Passes are valid for seven days from the date of purchase and cost $30 per vehicle, $25 for a motorcycle, and $15 per pedestrian or cyclist.

If you plan on visiting multiple times, then an annual pass is available for $55.

US residents with disabilities may be eligible for an Access Pass which grants free lifetime admission to Death Valley and other national parks.

What is the typical itinerary of a day tour to Death Valley from Las Vegas?

Death Valley day trips last up to 14 hours, so your day will begin early. Pick-ups from hotels or pre-arranged departure points are included in the tour price.

Travel is by comfortable SUV or minivan, with air conditioning to keep you cool on the 2-hour journey.

Some Death Valley excursions head straight to the park, where you will visit several viewpoints and enjoy short hikes along canyons and salt flats.

Other tours also stop at Red Rock Canyon for a scenic drive and photo opportunities. Wine tasting in Pahrump and jeep excursions are available too.

At the end of the day, you will be transferred back to Las Vegas, or on to Yosemite and San Francisco if you opt for a multi-day tour.

What kind of tours are available to go to Death Valley?

There are lots of different Death Valley day tours to choose from, with small-group and private options both up for grabs.

Guided day trips to Death Valley from Las Vegas

To keep costs down and enjoy the company of like-minded travelers, a small-group guided tour of Death Valley ticks all the boxes. Round-trip travel by minivan or Tour Trekker jeep from Las Vegas is included, and some trips provide lunch.

Visit Death Valley for some gentle hiking and panoramic photo stops. Some specialist excursions focus on photography so you can be the envy of your friends when you return home.

Several tours also include a visit to Red Rock Canyon or Rhyolite ghost town to break up the journey. This is recommended if you want to see as much as possible in a short space of time.

Guided photo tour to Death Valley with Milky Way Viewing from Las Vegas

This unique photo tour takes in the best viewpoints, as well as sunset at Golden Canyon, before settling down for an evening of stargazing.

Death Valley has the darkest skies in all the US - there is nowhere better to contemplate the galaxy overhead. Admire the Milky Way and a million twinkling stars against the backdrop of this spectacular national park.

Departure times vary with the seasons, leaving between 8 AM and 2 PM. You will arrive back very late into Las Vegas so plan on a lie-in the next morning.

Day trip to Death Valley with wine tasting in Pahrump from Las Vegas

This small-group Death Valley excursion spices things up even further with a stop at Pahrump Valley Winery, just outside Las Vegas. Learn about grape cultivation and drink in the sprawling Nevada views.

Wine tasting and lunch are available for an additional cost.

Private day tour to Death Valley from Las Vegas

Customized itineraries and personal service are at the core of private Death Valley day trips. You will ride in a luxury SUV with air-conditioning, water, and snacks to make your journey extra comfortable.

Enjoy four hours inside the park, with plenty of time to visit the main sights and learn about the valley’s unique history.

Private pro-photography tours are available too for those who want their journey to be captured on camera by an expert photographer.

4-Day Tour to Death Valley plus Yosemite and San Francisco from Las Vegas

For the ultimate outdoor adventure, join a 4-day Death Valley tour that also takes in Yosemite National Park and San Francisco. The contrasting landscapes work well together, providing enviable photo opportunities everywhere you turn.

Explore the salt plains and narrow canyons of Death Valley before continuing your journey to Yosemite for hikes along creeks and through meadows. Finish up with a drive through the Sierra Mountains to San Francisco where Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, and the Golden Gate Bridge await.

Guided tours in the parks and the city are included, as well as camping or hotel accommodation, and most meals.

How much does a tour to Death Valley from Las Vegas cost?

Small-group day trips to Death Valley range from $80 to $335, with the trip duration and group size influencing the price. Some excursions include a stop at Red Rock Canyon or a local ghost town. Transportation is by minivan or a custom-built Tour Trekker jeep. Lunch and water is usually provided.

A private Death Valley day tour costs from $1200 for up to 5 participants and includes a personal guide and customized itinerary.

The stargazing tour is $305, while the Death Valley with Pahrump wine tasting trip is priced at $274 per person.

4-day tours that combine Death Valley with Yosemite and San Francisco start at $708 per person and include accommodation and breakfast. You can turn this into a private tour if you have a group of five.

What will you see and do in Death Valley?

You could spend several weeks in Death Valley and still only have scratched the surface, but you can see the highlights on a day trip from Las Vegas.

Badwater Basin

The salt flats and pools at Badwater shimmer in the sunlight, spectacularly marking the lowest point in North America. During the cooler winter months, you can walk out on the flats and see the large salt polygons that stretch endlessly across the plains.

Zabriskie Point

This is the place to come first thing in the morning, to watch as the soft light of dawn bathes the Badlands in gold. You can also see the imposing Panamint Mountain Range from here, which dazzles with pink and purple rock across the valley.

Mesquite Flat Dunes

Visit this vast area of shifting sands at sunrise to witness the light and shade that accentuates the contours of the dunes. Located off Highway 190 in the center of the park, the dunes are easy to reach.

This is a great place for wildlife spotting too, so keep your eyes peeled for coyotes, kangaroo rats, and desert foxes.

Golden Canyon

Hike along a 3-mile trail that begins at Badwater Road and snakes through the dramatic golden-colored canyons and hills. The icing on the cake is dramatic views of Red Cathedral, a commanding cliff face that glows crimson in the evening sun.

Furnace Creek Visitor Center

Stop by the visitor center to discover more about the intriguing geology and Native American life here in Death Valley. There are several exhibits to view, as well as a short orientation film to get you started.

When is Death Valley open over the year?

Death Valley is open all day throughout the year.

When is the best time to visit Death Valley?

Death Valley is not a summer destination, although hardy visitors may still explore by car. Temperatures can reach 120 °F  (49°C) in the shade so hiking is out of the question.

The most popular time to visit Death Valley is Spring when the weather is cooler, and the wildflowers are in bloom.

Fall is a good option too, with pleasant weather and clear skies. It is still warm even in winter, and with snow-capped peaks this can be an enchanting time of year to explore.

Travel tips

  • Make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated in this arid environment.
  • Wear cool clothing and a sunhat as there is no shade in the valley. Sunscreen is essential throughout the year.
  • Be aware that cell phone service is limited in Death Valley.
  • If you are hiking alone, always tell someone where you are going.