Meet your fellow travelers and guides in Las Vegas early this morning. After a scenic three-hour van ride, we begin our first hike in Death Valley National Park. We reach Dante's View at 5,500', then hike along the spine of the Black Mountains with amazing views on both sides. To the west, we look down a vertical mile to Badwater and the Death Valley saltpan, with snow-topped Telescope Peak (11,049') directly across the valley. To the east, we overlook range after range of mountains spilling across the California-Nevada border. After the hike, we continue to Furnace Creek Campground where we set up camp and enjoy a homemade dinner and an evening under the stars. Lunch and dinner included.
Hiking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1,200’ / -1,200’, Terrain: cross-country, primitive hiking trail; Van transfer: 3 hours
After breakfast, we hike across the foothills of the Funeral Mountains to the multicolored badlands of Twenty Mule Team Canyon and Golden Canyon. We begin at 1,800' before descending below sea level through a maze of canyons to a viewpoint overlooking the Death Valley saltpan. Our guides take time to point out the landscape's fascinating geological features and enlighten us on the natural history of this unique ecosystem. S’mores by the campfire tonight! All meals included.
Hiking: 10 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +300’ / -1,900’, Terrain: cross-country through open desert and narrow canyons. Some rock scrambling.
This morning our destination is 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 helps us bypass an unclimbable 25' dry waterfall. This rim trail is the gateway to a deep, twisted gorge and another tall, dry fall and grotto. We follow the rim trail high above the canyon back to the trailhead, stopping to take in the expansive view across Mesquite Flat and Death Valley. Dinner tonight is al fresco among the Mesquite Flat Dunes, the perfect place to stargaze in the country’s largest designated Dark Sky National Park. All meals included.
Hiking: 5 miles, Elevation gain/loss: + 1,500' / -1,500’, Terrain: primitive hiking trail and gravel wash bottom. Some rock scrambling.
We finish our exploration of Death Valley appropriately with visits 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 often the hottest spot on Earth in summer months. Nearby, short, jagged salt pinnacles cluster together to form Devil's Golf Course, a bizarre landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see. Afterward, we have time for one last adventure: colorful Desolation Canyon. We head back to Las Vegas this afternoon for return flights and goodbyes. Breakfast and lunch included.
Hiking: 3.6 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +600’ / -600’, Terrain: primitive hiking trail; Van transfer: 4 hours