Camping is the last thing that likely comes to mind when you think about Death Valley. The name Death Valley sounds less than hospitable when it comes to most adventures, especially camping. However, snagging a campsite at one of the Death Valley campgrounds can be challenging during certain times of the year.
Today, we’ll give you a complete guide to everything you need to know for camping in the Death Valley campgrounds. Let’s get started!
Is Camping Allowed in Death Valley?
At a staggering 5,270 square miles, Death Valley is a massive national park. There are plenty of opportunities for recreational activities, including camping. You’ll find a variety of developed, primitive, and private campgrounds in the area. The camping season typically runs from October through April, but a few campgrounds remain open during summer.
There are some backcountry death valley campground options if you want to create distance between you and other campers. However, you can’t just set up camp anywhere in the park. Check the park’s backcountry camping rules to ensure you’re camping in an approved area.
When Is the Best Time for Death Valley Camping?
The best time to go camping in Death Valley is October through April. However, be aware that the most popular campgrounds are typically full on the weekends and holidays. If you can snag a reservation during this time of year, consider yourself lucky and enjoy your time in the park.
We don’t recommend trying to camp anytime between May and September. Summer temperatures in Death Valley can reach over 100 degrees and remain high well past midnight. Most campgrounds close during the summer because it’s too much for many campers to tolerate.
Pro Tip: After exploring Death Valley, head to one of these 7 Best National Parks in California for an epic adventure.
Are Death Valley Campgrounds at Risk of Flooding?
Death Valley recently experienced an extremely rare weather situation in August 2022. The area experienced monsoonal rains throughout the valley, which park officials described as a “1,000-year event.”
The park experienced roughly 75% of its annual rain total in only three hours. All that rain needed to go somewhere, which meant the area experienced horrendous flooding, including the campgrounds.
These flooding conditions were unprecedented for the park. Experts at the National Weather Service in Las Vegas estimate a 0.1% chance of this occurring in a given year. If you’re planning to camp in this area, the risk of flooding is very low.
Best Death Valley Campgrounds
If you want to camp in Death Valley, you’ll want to consider staying in one of these campgrounds. We’ve compiled a list of the best campgrounds in the area. Let’s take a look!
Furnace Creek Campground
Address: Death Valley, CA 92328, United States
GPS Coordinates: 36° 27′ 47.0002″ N 116° 52′ 4.0001″ W
Amenities: Furnace Creek Campground has 136 different campsites with drinking water, picnic tables, flush toilets, and a dump station. All sites have a campfire ring or a grill.
Pet-Friendly: The campground is pet-friendly, but be aware that you should never leave pets unattended. Coyotes frequent the area and will make a snack out of small animals. Don’t leave food out or unattended, as ravens and other critters will swarm the area.
Why You’ll Love It: This is a first-come, first-served campground from April through October, and all sites are reservable from October to April. The campground sits on the valley’s floor, which provides a very open space with little vegetation.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.5/10 – The campground provides incredible mountain views to the east and west, providing epic sunrises and sunsets.
Mesquite Spring Campground
Address: Death Valley, CA 92328
Amenities: Mesquite Spring Campground is a primitive campground that offers a fire grate and picnic table at each campsite. All sites are first-come, first-served, and you can pay at the pay station at the front of the campground.
There is a dump station open year-round and potable water. Seasonal staff is on-site during the peak camping season.
Pet-Friendly: The campground is pet-friendly, but they must remain on a leash and monitored. Don’t leave pet food out or unattended as it will attract animals. Always clean up after your pets.
Why You’ll Love It: Gorgeous desert mountains and geological creations surround Mesquite Spring Campground. While you may not have hook-ups for your RV, you’ll have a great spot to serve as basecamp during your Death Valley adventures. Whether you want to hike or enjoy a scenic drive, it’s easy to do while staying here.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.4/10 – Not having any sort of hook-ups can be a bummer, but the area’s incredible dark skies and quietness are easy to enjoy at night.
Address: Wildrose Campground, Death Valley, CA 98801
Amenities: Wildrose Campground offers potable water and year-round trash/recycling collection at Wildrose Campground. It’s as primitive as primitive can get for an established campground. There are vault toilets open year-round for campers to use.
Pet-Friendly: The campground is pet-friendly, but keep them close and never leave food unattended.
Why You’ll Love It: Wildrose Campground sits at an elevation of 4100 feet, which means temperatures can be slightly cooler. However, it does make the area more prone to high winds. Sites are dirt, but fairly level and surrounded by Mesquite bushes and plenty of rolling hills. You won’t find any hook-ups here, but you can run a generator from 7:00 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.3/10 – A solid first-come, first-served campground at a higher elevation. The 23 sites can go quickly during peak camping season, so ensure you arrive as early as possible to snag one of these sites.
Mahogany Flat Campground
Address: Death Valley, CA 92328
Amenities: Mahogany Flat Campground offers no amenities besides gorgeous views down into Death Valley. It’s a first-come, first-served primitive campground that will require some effort to reach. You’ll need a high-clearance vehicle with 4×4 abilities to safely access this campground.
Pet-Friendly: Mahogany Flat Campground is pet friendly, but be mindful of other wildlife and keep them on a leash and close to you.
Why You’ll Love It: Mahogany Flat Campground sits at 8,200 feet elevation. It provides an incredible view down into Death Valley and cooler temperatures. Because it isn’t an easy place to access, fewer campers are willing to make the trek. If you want to see dark skies and gorgeous sunsets, this is the place to camp!
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.7/10 – If you can reach one of the nine campsites, you can cherish the sounds of silence and cooler temperatures. It’s not a campground for just anybody, but for those who can reach it, it offers incredible views. We also love that there is no fee to camp here!
Stovepipe Wells RV Park
Address: Cottonwood Canyon Rd, California 92328
Amenities: Stovepipe Wells RV Park offers a modern and luxurious experience compared to most other campgrounds. You’ll find 14 full hook-up RV sites with access to a swimming pool, Wi-Fi, and easy access to the Toll Road Restaurant and Badwater Saloon.
Pet-Friendly: Stovepipe Wells RV Park is pet-friendly, but owners must keep them on a leash, clean up after them, and be mindful of them at all times.
Why You’ll Love It: If you’ve spent a few days at one of the rustic campgrounds in the area, a couple of nights at Stovepipe Wells RV Park might be just what you need. It’s an easy drive to many popular attractions and hiking trails, and you can cool off at the swimming pool.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.9/10 – The park offers just about everything you could need in an RV park in the middle of the desert and provides easy access to some amazing adventures in Death Valley.
Address: CA-190, Death Valley, CA 92328
Amenities: Enjoy Wi-Fi, a natural spring-fed swimming pool, laundry facilities, and plenty of outdoor activities at Fiddlers’ Campground. The campground has a General Store for any items you might need, and it’s close to the Ranch’s delicious restaurant.
However, there are no water, sewer, or electrical hookups, and all sites are back-in only.
Pet-Friendly: Yes, pets are welcome to stay, but owners are responsible for keeping them close and cleaning up after them. Don’t leave them unattended.
Why You’ll Love It: Fiddlers’ Campground is a great place to enjoy some luxuries like swimming in the pool and having easy access to food and supplies. You’re right near a golf course and other activities to enjoy with the luxuries of a resort for guests.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.2/10 – Sites are back-in only, and the camping area has a parking lot feel, despite a nice resort-style hotel being on the property. There are no generators, so you better hope your neighbors have a quiet one.
Panamint Springs Resort
Address: 40440 CA-190, Darwin, CA 93522
Amenities: Panamint Springs Resort has a variety of sites, from tent camping to full hook-up RV sites. The management plans to develop a pool with a premium view of the gorgeous mountains. You’ll also find various lodging facilities, a gas station, a general store, and a full-service restaurant and bar on the property.
Pet-Friendly: Panamint Springs Resort’s campground is pet-friendly, but there’s a $5 per night charge for any pets staying on the property. They must be kept on a leash and can’t be left unattended. They’re not welcome in restaurants or to cause any disturbances.
Why You’ll Love It: The view the park provides is gorgeous, and there are various camping options to fit any style. It’s one of the few campgrounds in the area to offer full hook-ups for RVs.
Morton Road Trip Rating: 8.3/10 – The epic views are great, but getting in and out of the resort with an RV can be difficult. The road isn’t in great condition, and it’s easy to miss at night.
Tips for Death Valley Camping
If you’re planning to camp in Death Valley, there are some things you should keep in mind. Trying to “wing it” when camping in this area can be extremely dangerous, potentially even deadly.
Be Prepared for Heat
Temperatures during the summer months can be extremely hot. We don’t advise trying to camp during this season. Nighttime temperatures can hover around 100 degrees, so you’re not going to get much reprieve from the temperatures. If you do plan to stay in this area, it may be worth booking a stay in a hotel to ensure you can stay cool.
Ensure you drink plenty of water, especially when hiking or doing other physical activities. Dehydration and heat exhaustion can be very serious and quickly affect you. Have plenty of water for everyone in your group, including any pets.
Watch for Wildlife
The desert is home to many dangerous animals, including rattlesnakes. Stay on trails, watch where you step, and avoid putting your hands anywhere you can’t see.
Rattlesnake bites can be very dangerous, and help can be a considerable distance away. There may not be time for medical professionals to reach you, especially since much of the area has limited amounts of cell coverage.
Don’t Sleep on the Ground
Not only do you have to watch for snakes, but also scorpions and spiders. Sleeping on the ground is not only uncomfortable, but it can be dangerous.
You never know what insect, reptile, or animal will try to crawl in and stay warm with you in the middle of the night. Finding any of these creatures in the bottom of your sleeping bag is not how you want to wake up during your camping adventure.
Try Backcountry Camping
Snagging a campsite at some of the campgrounds can be challenging. However, there are plenty of backcountry camping opportunities. These campsites can provide a tremendous amount of privacy and space. However, make sure you make preparations. Have the appropriate camping gear and supplies to avoid finding yourself in a dangerous situation.
Being unprepared in a remote location can be dangerous. So take the time to gather the necessary supplies and skills for a backcountry camping trip. These campsites can make it easy to access some of the best and most exciting places in the entire park.
Pro Tip: Use our Beginner’s Essential Guide To Backcountry Camping to make your Death Valley experience a success.
Visit the Oasis
Even if you’re not planning to stay at the resort, you’ve got to experience The Oasis at Death Valley. This resort was established in the 1920s, and management invested over $150 million to renovate it and create a literal oasis in the middle of the desert.
It offers an incredibly luxurious experience where guests can feel pampered during their stay. Play a round of golf, enjoy the spa, or eat a delicious meal at one of their six food establishments. It’s an incredible sight to see!
Camp in Death Valley to Make the Most of Your Time
Visiting Death Valley is an opportunity to experience what much of the western frontier was like before subdivisions and highrise buildings. The land is extremely rugged and demands your respect.
Visit this area unprepared during the wrong season, and you’ll experience its fury. However, if you take the time to plan your trip and visit during the right time of year, Death Valley can be an incredible and memorable place for you and your loved ones to adventure.
Which one of these Death Valley campgrounds do you want to spend the night at? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
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