Day trip to Death Valley from Las Vegas by rented car

December 2013 

If during your stay in Las Vegas you have a free day available and a rented car, it is worth making a day tour to Death Valley in California, driving in the desert along the scenic roads of southern Nevada and California. The Death Valley is one of the hottest place in the world (at least in the summer) and offers spectacular views. Just be sure to leave the main road with enough water and a full fuel tank, just in case...

Rented car Make sure you have enough fuel...
The Death Valley can be visited in a day tour from Las Vegas with a trip lasting about 6-8 hours. With our rented car, we cross the "highway" 178 from Shoshone, a road no longer marked on modern maps (but that I knew from previous trips) as there are no services for 72 miles in a row.
Entering Death Valley
Soon, we meet the sign at the entrance of Death Valley National park in California, which marks the border of the protected area.
Road to Death Valley
The state road 178, which connects Furnace Creek in the Death Valley to Shoshone, is little touched by mass tourism and although this is high Christmas season, we met very few cars. The best way to visit the Death Valley is to rent a car and drive along these scenic routes, surrounded by beautiful landscapes that makes interesting not only the real destination, but also the journey to get there.
Desert road in the USA
Vegetation in the Death Valley

The sides of the mountains that descend into the Death Valley are made of colored rocks containing a multitude of minerals, exposed by the extreme environment that does not allow the growth of many plants (apart just some low bush and some cactus), because of the prolonged drought and the summer temperatures often exceeding 45 degrees Celsius.
Deserted road
Chiara likes to photograph herself lying in the middle of the deserted road in the desert.
Coyote Coyotes
Photos of coyotes. After getting almost to the bottom of Death Valley, we meet a group of coyote, an animal that is perfectly adapted to life in the desert and that in case of necessity it also feeds on grubs and insects.
Death Valley National Park
Day tour to Death Valley
The real Death Valley tour begins when the altitude reported by the various signs becomes under the sea level. Here the landscape becomes particularly harsh, with the bottom of the valley dominated by a vast expanse of salt (the amount of salt was however lower than that observed during a previous trip to Death Valley made ​​in September 1993).
Depression (under the sea level)

We reach the lowest point inside the Death Valley, which is 85.5 meters below sea level (it is the deepest depression of the American continent). The sea level is indicated by a sign placed along the steep side of a rocky hill.
Badwater Death Valley Bad Water
Salt in the Death Valley Badwater is located near Death Valley's lowest elevation point and was so named by early explorers, because the water in the small reservoir is so salty, to be absolutely no drinking water. Since this trip to Death Valley was held in late December, the clothing is in keeping with the season: in fact, despite being in one of the places on the planet where summer temperatures often reach record levels, in winter the weather is cool and frost is relatively frequent.
Death Valley in California Bottom of the Death Valley
Death Valley

Photos of Death Valley. The Death Valley is rich in salts and the altitude lower than that of the sea, makes a nice contrast with the snow-capped mountains over 4000 meters in altitude. Mount Whitney, which with its 4421 meters above sea level is the highest peak of the continental United States, is located only 122 kilometers from the lowest altitude point below sea level in the Death Valley.
Colored rocks
Desert in California

Continuing the crossing of Death Valley to Furnace Creek (a tiny village that exists only to provide logistics services to the tourists who come here), we encounter mountains completely bare and colored by the presence of various minerals.
Colored hills
Road in the desert in California

Still other mountains with their bizarre colors.
Zabriskie Point Sedimentary rocks
Eroded rocks Erosion
Leaving the Death Valley along the highway 190 bound for Las Vegas, we make a brief stop at Zabriskie Point. This area is interesting for the beauty of the landscape, dominated by hills of volcanic and sedimentary origin, subsequently eroded by the elements and minning completely any kind of vegetation.
After the tour in the Death Valley, we return to Las Vegas with our rented car, crossing the town of Parhump in the heart of the desert in southern Nevada.

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