- Hike in Death Valley National Park amid a remarkable desert landscape
- Camp at the foot of the Funeral Mountains at a secluded site
- Visit Mosaic Canyon, Badwater, Devil's Golf Course, and more
Death Valley's seldom-traveled backcountry offers a variety of unique hiking opportunities for the active traveler: narrow, labyrinthine slot canyons cut through polished marble and limestone; hidden oases frequented by desert bighorn sheep; and challenging mining trails that climb to remote desert summits. By far the largest national park in the contiguous United States, over 90% of Death Valley's 3.3 million acres are protected as designated Wilderness Area. Adventurers invariably return home from a trip to the Park amazed by the scenic and geological diversity contained within this remarkable desert landscape.
Departing in spring, our camping and hiking trip utilizes a secluded wilderness basecamp at the foot of the Funeral Mountains. From here, we spend less time getting to trailheads and more time on the trail. Our schedule allows for hiking excursions to many of the park's geological highlights. The spring is a wonderful time to visit, with more temperate weather and brilliant wildflowers and blooming cacti.
We also offer a hotel-based version of this itinerary in the spring, fall and winter.
Voted as one of Outside Magazine's "25 Trips of a Lifetime" - March 2002.
- Day 1 - Enjoy dinner and an orientation with your guides and fellow hikers.
- Day 2 - Hike through the Funeral Mountains to colorful badlands.
- Day 3 - Marvel at the narrows of Mosaic Canyon; hike on a canyon rim trail.
- Day 4 - Hike at Dante's View gazing down at Badwater and up at Telescope Peak.
- Day 5 - Travel through Titus Canyon to Death Valley; sunset picnic on sand dunes.
- Day 6 - Visit Badwater and the Devil's Golf Course before departing.
Trip Itinerary and Details
Important Notice: Day 1 is the day you should plan to arrive at the meeting point for the trip. This may require departing your hometown one or more days in advance and traveling on an overnight flight.
Day 1 - Enjoy dinner and an orientation with your guides and fellow hikers.
Your trip begins today in Las Vegas, Nevada. Fly to Las Vegas, arriving at McCarran Airport in time for the 11 a.m. group rendezvous at a nearby hotel. We recommend arriving the night before if possible, to allow for some relaxation time and to avoid any problems with delayed luggage. From Las Vegas, we take a 3-hour van ride to Death Valley National Park and our secluded Funeral Mountain campsite where we'll enjoy dinner and talk about the upcoming week's itinerary. Dinner only included.
Day 2 - Hike through the Funeral Mountains to colorful badlands.
After breakfast, we hike across the foothills of the Funeral Mountains to the multi-colored badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon and Golden Canyon. We begin at 1,800' and descend to below sea level through a maze of canyons to a viewpoint overlooking the Death Valley saltpan. Our guides take the time to point out the landscape's fascinating geological features and enlighten us on the natural history of this unique ecosystem. All meals included.
Hiking: 10 miles. Terrain: cross-country through open desert and narrow canyons. Some rock scrambling. 1,900' elevation loss.
Day 3 - Marvel at the narrows of Mosaic Canyon; hike on a canyon rim trail.
Today we drive to Mosaic Canyon, a deep, narrow canyon carved into polished marble and colorful mosaics of dolomite. We hike through several sections of narrows before scrambling out of the canyon to a rim trail that takes us around an unclimbable 25' dry waterfall. The rim trail is the gateway to a deep, twisted gorge and another tall, dry fall and grotto. We follow the rim trail high above Mosaic Canyon back to the main canyon, stopping to take in the expansive view across Mesquite Flat and Death Valley. Showers will be available this afternoon at Stovepipe Wells Village before we head back to our wilderness camp for the evening. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles. Terrain: primitive hiking trail and gravel wash bottom. 900' elevation gain/loss.
Day 4 - Hike at Dante's View gazing down at Badwater and up at Telescope Peak.
We'll drive to Dante's View at 5,500' and strike off cross-country along the spine of the Black Mountains, with amazing views on both sides. To the west, we'll look down a vertical mile to Badwater and the Death Valley saltpan, with the snow-covered summit of Telescope Peak (11,049') directly across the valley. To the east, we'll look out over range after range of mountains spilling across the California-Nevada border. (Note: if the weather is too chilly, an excellent alternate hike from the Devil's Cornfield to Salt Creek across the floor of Death Valley will be substituted.) All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles. Terrain: cross-country, primitive hiking trail.1,000' elevation gain/loss.
Day 5 - Travel through Titus Canyon to Death Valley; sunset picnic on sand dunes.
A drive of 50 miles over a mostly paved road transports us to Titus Canyon, where we descend (by van) over 5,000' through the Grapevine Mountains to Death Valley proper. Along the way we stop to climb Thimble Peak (6,381'), scrambling up a rocky ridge for an incredible 360º view of the surrounding desert, then hike the Titus Canyon narrows – an impressive, deeply entrenched slot canyon. (Note: If the weather is too chilly for an ascent of Thimble Peak, an alternate hike through the Fall Canyon narrows will be substituted.) We end the day with a barefoot hike out onto the golden Mesquite Flat sand dunes for a sunset picnic dinner. Showers will once again be available at Stovepipe Wells Village en route back to our camp this afternoon. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles. Terrain: moderately steep, primitive hiking trail plus cross-country. Rock scrambling required for optional Thimble Peak summit climb. 1,800' elevation gain/loss.
Day 6 - Visit Badwater and the Devil's Golf Course before departing.
We finish our exploration of Death Valley appropriately with a visit to Badwater and the Devil's Golf Course. Badwater, at 280' below sea level, is just a few miles from the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere and quite possibly the hottest spot on earth during the summer months. Nearby, the short, jagged salt pinnacles clustered together to form the Devil's Golf Course shape a bizarre landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. After returning to the van, we say our goodbyes to this awe-inspiring national park and set out on our 3-hour ride back to Las Vegas. For those flying home today, please do not schedule a flight out of Las Vegas prior to 7 p.m. Breakfast and lunch included.
Although we do our best to adhere to the schedule listed above, this itinerary is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control, including weather and terrain conditions.
Please check with us before purchasing your airline tickets to ensure your trip has the necessary minimum number of participants required to operate the trip.
Meals as noted in the daily itinerary; roundtrip transportation from/to designated Las Vegas hotel; van support; expert guide leadership; group camping gear including tents (bring your own sleeping bag/pad); park entrance fees.
Airfare; 1 lunch; sleeping bag and pad; insurance of any kind; excess baggage charges; airport taxes; alcoholic beverages; soft drinks; guide gratuities and items of a personal nature.
This trip is rated as Moderate  and we encourage you to arrive in good physical condition. The terrain we hike over can be rugged and may require some rock scrambling to negotiate. We generally hike at least 3 - 6 hours per day. To maximize your enjoyment of the trip and to avoid sore muscles, we suggest beginning a regular exercise regimen at least 2 - 3 months prior to departure. Recommended exercises include hiking, jogging, cycling and/or swimming. The better shape you are in, the more fun you will have. Get out on those hills if possible! Note: We will be camping in the backcountry and will not have access to flush toilets or showers on a daily basis. We will have a "shower stop" at least twice during the trip. We will also be stopping at a small market with groceries, soft drinks, batteries, sunscreen, flush toilets, etc. at least every other day.
In early spring, daytime temperatures at lower elevations can reach 90°- 100°F. On our spring departures, while we do spend time exploring the warmer valley floor, our campsite and some of our hikes are above 1,500' where temperatures generally range from 50°- 90°. Spring nighttime temperatures are usually in the 40s-60s but can occasionally drop into the 30s. Weather in Death Valley is unpredictable so please arrive prepared to experience a wide temperature range. Very little rainfall can be expected but suitable raingear is essential nonetheless.
If you are traveling alone and specifically request single accommodations, you will be asked to pay the single supplement fee. There is no single supplement fee for those willing to share accommodations, and we will assign you a roommate of the same gender if possible. Please be advised that there are a limited number of single accommodations available.General Information
This trip is subject to the booking information set forth in the current REI Adventures Reservation Information. Please read this information carefully and call us if you have any questions. A full gear list and pre-departure information is sent upon sign-up. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance through REI Adventures. If coverage is purchased at the time of your initial reservation, the 'Pre-existing Conditions Exclusion' is waived (certain exclusions apply).
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime! Why wait? Space is limited, reserve your adventure today.
Death Valley Hiking & Camping Gear List
The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff. Although the name Death Valley conjures images of extreme heat in many people's minds, springtime in the desert can bring a variety of weather conditions including some rainfall and, at higher elevations, even snow! These extremes should prompt you to pack some warmer clothing in addition to the lightweight clothing already on your list. A fleece jacket and long pants are generally indispensable during early morning hours and at dinnertime when temperatures often drop below 50° F.
- Stoves and fuel
- Cooking and eating utensils while camping
- Airline tickets
- Photo identification
- Duffel bag, large or extra large
- Daypack, 1500-2500 cu. in. to carry your camera, water bottles, extra clothing and lunch
- Sleeping bag with stuff sack (rated to 30° F), lightweight and compressible
- Sleeping pad (Therm-a-Rest or foam)
- Sleeping bag liner
- Bring a few lightweight, easily washable items for travel wear
- Midweight fleece or wool sweater
- Lightweight thermal underwear top and bottom, synthetic or wool
- Hiking pants, synthetic, quick-drying
- Hiking shorts, synthetic, quick-drying
- Long-sleeve shirts
- T-shirts (cotton and synthetic)
- Hiking socks
- Liner socks
- Casual socks
- Sun hat
- Wool or fleece hat
- Thin liner gloves
- Swimsuit (for pool at shower facility)
- Rain jacket (waterproof and breathable)
- Sturdy hiking boots, lightweight, broken-in, aggressive tread
- Casual shoes such as tennis shoes/sandals
- Three one-quart water bottles or hydration system
- Flashlight or headlamp and spare batteries/bulb
- Pocket knife or pocket tool
- Watch with alarm or travel clock
- Hand sanitizer gel
- Sunblock and lip balm
- Toiletry kit
- Personal first-aid kit
- Sunglasses and retainer strap
- Small washcloth and small towel
- Baby Wipes (very handy!)
- Several Ziploc plastic bags
- Camera, media card and spare batteries
- Small binoculars
- Ear plugs
- Spare contact lenses or glasses
- Small freestanding flashlight/lantern for use inside your tent
- Reading and writing materials
- Knee supports
- Travel pillow
- Hiking staff or trekking poles
Things to Consider
- Please remember to always pack essential items such as appropriate identification, money, eyewear, a change of clothing, hiking boots and medications in your carry-on baggage, in case your luggage is delayed.
- Cotton is wonderful in warm weather. However, once it becomes wet, it will drain your body heat. Bring wool or synthetics such as Capilene®, MTS® and Thermax®.
- Always test your layers before a trip. Your outer layer should fit easily over the inside ones without binding and bunching up.
- Make sure boots are broken-in. Bring moleskin for foot treatment. Thin liner socks worn under regular hiking socks may minimize the risk of blisters. The liner sock should be synthetic, not cotton. Test your sock combination before you go on the trip.
- Stuff sacks are great for sorting gear. Use different sizes/colors to differentiate contents.
- Bring a garbage bag to line your duffel bag and keep your gear dry should inclement weather be encountered.
Feel free to give us a call at (800) 622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out www.rei.com/learn. The Expert Advice section on our "Learn" page has great information to help you prepare for your trip.