For many people visiting Las Vegas, a day trip to see the world-famous barren landscape of Death Valley is a must. Fortunately, the drive is only about two hours, passing through the town of Pahrump, which gives you the unique opportunity for an adventure side trip to cool off after visiting one of the hottest places on Earth. Stop off at Jetpack America to fly a water jet pack in crystal-clear Lake Spring Mountain.
From Las Vegas, the drive to Death Valley is pretty straightforward:
- -I-15 South from Las Vegas (5 miles)
- -160 West toward Pahrump (50 miles)
- -Left on W. Bell Vista Ave (25 miles)
- -Right on 127, then immediate Left on 190 (40 miles)
- -Left into Death Valley National Park
The return trip is essentially the same route in reverse.
If you leave early in the morning, you can beat the afternoon heat, so you’ll want to keep that in mind, since Death Valley can reach temperatures well over 120 degrees Fahrenheit (or 45 degrees Celsius).
The Sites in Death Valley
I would suggest Dante's View on the way in, to get the lay of the land and a tangible idea of what sort of place Death Valley is, and the vastness and natural diversity. Dante's
View is 5475 ft above sea level, and you will be looking down at Badwater,
282 ft below sea level, and across the Valley at the Panamint range where the high point is over 11,000 ft.
Go to Zabriskie Point next. After that, I'd suggest passing the Badwater junction for now and going up 190 to Furnace Creek, where the park visitor center is, which is less than a mile from the junction. This is where you can pay your park entrance fee if you did not do so earlier at one of the automated kiosks (or don't have an annual Federal outdoor recreation pass for people planning to visit many national parks or monuments).
Furnace Creek is also where the resorts are, where you’ll find a small museum mainly about borax, a general store, restaurants, and a saloon. The general store sells postcards and souvenirs (some of which you might find at the park visitor center for less). There is a post office at Furnace Creek but the service counter is closed on weekends, so if you’ll be there on a Saturday or Sunday, get whatever postage stamps you need in advance.
After Furnace Creek, return to Badwater Road and see Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, Artist’s Drive, and Golden Canyon. In that order, you’ll be making a loop trip south and then back north to 190. Golden Canyon is the only one that might be called a hike, and you can see the eroded rock and warm brown and tan colors in a short comfortable stroll. Much of the rock in Golden Canyon (and Zabriskie Point and 20 Mule Team Canyon) is clay and sandstone. All these sights are in the first 17 miles of Badwater Road, so you won’t be going long distances. The southern part of Badwater Road is scenic, but it’s more about long-range vistas and sweeping views of the mountains than specific natural marvels.
If you have time, the Devil’s Cornfield and Sand Dunes are 20-25 minutes north of Furnace Creek, on Hwy 190. This would add maybe 45-50 minutes of travel plus whatever time you spend there. You’d still return on 190 forLas Vegas. On the way back, you can go through 20 Mule Team Canyon and then take a few minutes to look around Death Valley Junction, a 1920s borax mining company town which is now a ghost town and the location of the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House.
The Post-Death Valley Water Jet Pack Adventure
After working up a good sweat in Death Valley, the oasis of Lake Spring Mountain will be a welcome sight and a perfect way to cool off. The Spring Mountain
Motor Resort & Country Club is located on the outskirts of Pahrump, which is on your way back to Las Vegas along State Highway 160.
At Lake Spring Mountain, you can relax on the white sand beach, go for a paddleboard around the 4.5-acre lake, get a late lunch and drink at the on-site tiki bar or pump up your adrenaline with a water jet pack or jetboard flight with Jetpack America.
With 20, 30, 40 and 60-minute flight packages, Jetpack America can teach beginners of all ages how to fly, with most first-timers airborne within their first five minutes in the water. There’s even a tandem jetpack setup, where children as young as 5 years old can strap in and fly with one of the certified flight instructors. To ensure availability, you'll want to book your flight packages before making the trip.
From start to finish for the flight lessons, you’ll want to allow approximately two hours of total time at the Spring Mountain facility.
The Highs and Lows
With this itinerary, you’ll be able to experience the lowest point on land and the exhilaration of flying high above the world below.
Have fun out there!