Road Scholar : Home
Hiking in Death Valley: Unique Landscapes and Incredible Geology

Program Number: 8109RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/31/2013 - 4/5/2013;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Death Valley National Park, California
Price starting at: $1,049.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: n (see description)
Meals: 15; 5 Breakfasts, 5 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

If you’re a serious hiker looking for a challenge and wanting to explore places within Death Valley National Park that few visitors ever get to see, then this is the adventure for you! Seasoned instructors lead challenging hikes over varying terrain in scenic canyons, to lookout points, into water-carved ravines, over ancient lake deposits, crystallized salt pans and sand dunes. Experience the hidden gems in this largest National Park in the Lower 48!


• Expert instructors discuss the geology, human stories and natural history that make Death Valley National Park so unique.
• Hike up an alluvial fan into Jayhawker Canyon to experience Native American petroglyphs and inscriptions from early pioneers.
• Be challenged on a final-day hike at 9,100-foot Wildrose Peak for spectacular views of Death Valley.

Activity Particulars

Daily hikes of 6-8 miles on uneven, varied and rough terrain. Elevation gains of 1,000 feet or more.

Coordinated by Death Valley Natural History Association.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley, a place of unexpected contrasts, is also one of subtle beauty. From the blush of dawn's light across its badlands to the awe-inspiring red-gold sunsets and the riot of color from spring wildflowers, this great national park covering over 3.3 million miles offers fascinating history and nature's splendor in large servings.

Hotel/casino in Beatty, Nev., 20 miles from the park. One scheduled shuttle transfer available (for a fee) from/to Las Vegas.
Meals and Lodgings
   Stagecoach Hotel/Casino
  Death Valley National Park (Beatty, NV) 5 nights
 Stagecoach Hotel/Casino
Type: Hotel
  Description: Rooms offer refrigerators in each room, large bathrooms, TV, with an outdoor jacuzzi tub and pool area for all guests. WIFI is available, however you will need to bring your own computer and printer, if you desire (the hotel does not have a "computer room"). No hair-dryers or alarm clocks in rooms; please bring your own if you have the need; wake-up calls are available daily, however, through the front desk. The Sage Room (where we hold our dinners and meetings) is a non-smoking room, as is the restaurant: Rita's Café. All sleeping rooms we reserve are non-smoking (while we cannot guarantee that all people have followed that guideline, we do our best to be sure that you will stay in a non-smoking room throughout the week. There is no elevator at the hotel, and no porters. Please be sure (especially since this is an active hiking program) that you can handle your luggage to your room(s). Some are on the ground floor, and others are on the second floor, all with outside/exterior access. Since all rooms have mid-sized refrigerators, some participants bring their own alcoholic beverages to keep in their rooms, along with other food items: yogurt, fruit, trail mix, beverages, etc. Contact your program administrator with any questions at (please be sure to include your program date in the subject line of your message).
  Contact info: Highway 95, North
Beatty, NV 89003 USA
phone: 775-553-2419
  Room amenities: TV, phone, refrigerators, large bathrooms, closets, windows. There are no hairdryers or alarm clocks (wake-up service is available through the hotel operator/front desk) and we suggest you bring all of your personal toiletries with you. The hotel provides soap, but not shampoos/conditioner/lotion. You will need to supply those products. If you need more information, feel free to contact the program administrator at (please include program date in the "subject" line on all emails). We have successfully used this hotel for the past 10 years for these programs and have had very good results. Your week is expected to be a great week of hiking, with comfortable rooms in which to relax on your return each evening.
  Facility amenities: Rita's is a non-smoking restaurant. Hotel offers 24-hour restaurant, cocktail lounge, meeting room (Sage Room), in-room refrigerators & TV/phones, and WIFI. A jacuzzi and a non-heated pool are available for all guests.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Additional nights prior: $60.00 +/- call & confirm cost Please contact hotel directly at 1-800-424-4946, or at 775-553-2419 and contact the program administrator to confirm early arrival at Please be sure to include program date in the "subject" line of your email. Additional night costs are approximate. Check in is at 3:00 pm, check out at 11:00 am.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $60.00 +/- call & confirm cost Please contact hotel directly at 1-800-424-4946, or at 775-553-2419 and contact the program administrator to confirm early arrival at Please be sure to include program date in the "subject" line of your email. Additional night costs are approximate. Check in is at 3:00 pm, check out at 11:00 am.
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check into hotel between 3:00 and 4:45 PM. Welcome reception at 5:30 pm in Sage Room. Contact program administrator at You will be staying at Stagecoach Hotel/Casino that night.
  End of Program:
Program concludes after lunch at the Furnace Creek Inn in the park (approx 1:15 pm) You will be staying at Stagecoach Hotel/Casino the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. No documents are generally required, with the exception of a Liability Release form to be completed, along with medical information and hiking questionnaire, and returned to program administrator prior to the start of the program. A packet of information including these forms, is mailed in advanced to each participant after enrollment in the program. All information is kept confidential and is a required part of attendance in the program and must be received in advance of the program's start date.
  Parking availability:
The hotel has plenty of outdoor parking for all guests. Participants driving to the program can leave cars at the hotel and travel into the park in the vans provided. You are responsible for the safety of your vehicle. We have had no problems to date.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Death Valley National Park (Beatty, NV)
  Nearest city or town:  Las Vegas, Nevada
  Nearest highway: U. S. Highway 95
  Nearest airport:  McCarran Field, Las Vegas, Nevada
  From End of Program
  Location: Death Valley National Park (Beatty, NV)
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Las Vegas


From Airport




Car Rentals


Travel Time:


2.5-3 Hours 




115 Miles


If you are driving to the program, be sure to consult your road atlas. Beatty is located on Highway 95 in the State of Nevada. It is approximately 2.5-3 hours north of Las Vegas There are several routes you can take that will get you to the Highway 95 corridor, which is the main highway from Las Vegas, NV to Reno, NV.


Las Vegas


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Death Valley Institute
phone: 800-478-8564 x10
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$75.00 round trip per person, cash only
Prices are subject to change.


Travel Time:


2.5-3 Hours 




115 Miles


Book your flight to arrive before noon the shuttle will depart the McCarran Rent a Car Center after all have arrived. The shuttle will make a couple of short stops in Las Vegas before returning to Beatty. On the finial day of the program the shuttle will return you to the Rent A Car center at about 4pm. Book your departure flight for after 6pm. Friday traffic is unpredictable. If you have more questions please call us at 775-764-0726 or email at

Driving Directions
  Important Tips! It is important that anyone driving into the program thoroughly research their road atlas for directions. While it is fairly easy to drive to Beatty, NV, it is still important to be clear about where you are going. Afterall, this is the desert on the western edge of the Great Basin and you'll need plenty of water for making the trip. It's a beautiful drive and will take only a few hours to reach from most nearby airport locations. If you have any questions, please contact the program administrator at Please be sure to include your program date in the subject line of your email.
  Las Vegas, Nevada Drive North on Highway 15 and take the Highway 95 exit, North to Reno. Please consult your road atlas, and plan to arrive by 3:00 pm in Beatty, Nevada. Las Vegas to Beatty takes about 2.5 hours.
  Los Angeles Follow instructions to Ridgecrest, California; then to Trona, then into Death Valley National Park and out Daylight Pass to Beatty, Nevada. Driving time: approx. 3.5-4 hours, depending on departure location.
  Reno, Nevada Drive East on Highway 80 to Fernley, to Highway 50 to Fallon, Nevada, to Highway 95, South, to Beatty. Driving time: approx. 5 hours. Please arrive by 3:00 pm
  San Diego, California Drive north on Highway 15, follow route in road Atlas to Death Valley National Park. There are a couple of ways you can drive in so consult the atlas before going. Please arrive by 3:00 pm in Beatty. ALWAYS TAKE WATER WITH YOU THROUGH DEATH VALLEY!
Elevation Note: Some areas of the part are below sea level, some above 3000'+. See detailed itineraries.

Equipment Requirements: Equipment required includes daypack, water canteen(s), hiking boots/shoes (tennis or walking shoes are not appropriate for hikes in this program; fine for in-town or non-hiking activities), trekking poles highly recommended, layered clothing for changeable weather, hat, sunscreen, and others. See "What to Bring" in the Welcome Packet mailed after enrollment into the program. You will be guided to specific required and recommended items. Contact the Program Administrator with any questions at
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Welcome Reception & Registration/Orientation/Evening Program. Please check into the hotel prior to 4:30 pm in order to unpack and arrive at the Sage Room of the hotel (located behind the casino lounge) at 5:30 pm.
(Sunday, March 31)

Note: The hotel restaurant and meeting room are both non-smoking venues; therefore, you will be in non-smoking rooms during meals and evening programs.

 Arrive To: Please check into hotel between 3:00 4:45 PM. Welcome Reception will be held in the Sage Room, located behind the Casino Lounge, and will begin at 5:30 PM. You will check into the program, receive your name tag, receive your information packet for the week's hikes and have a chance to greet and meet the other participants. Introductions will follow, along with some data about the program, then dinner at approx. 6:15-6:30 pm. Followed by the Orientation Program. Conclude at approx. 8:30-9:00 pm. Please be flexible.....some conditions may require that we change or alter details of our itinerary; we'll keep you informed of any changes and thank you for your cooperation. For any additional information or comments, please contact the program provider at
 Dinner: Dinner will be at 6:15-6:30 pm. Dinners are hearty with Salad, Soup, Bread, Main Course (meat, chicken, fish) along with vegetables and rice, potatoes, or pasta. If you have special dietary needs, you will need to bring special items with you. The hotel kitchen staff cannot accommodate for special meals, other than those already mentioned above. If you have any questions at all, please contact the program administrator at 775-835-8708 or via email at in advance of the program dates. Dinners are buffet style and you have choices of meat or meatless meals.
 Evening: We regularly hold the Orientation Program in the Sage Room, following dinner. However, please be flexible......many outside conditions can determine that we change our schedule, but we will keep you apprised of any changes, if and when they occur. Yoru Orientation Program is a "Must Attend" event and is vital to the understanding of the week's Level 6 Program activities. Please do your best to arrive rested and ready for a busy and great week.
Accommodations: Stagecoach Hotel/Casino
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Golden Canyon/Zabriskie Point/Gower Gulch/Continue Hikes
(Monday, April 1)

Note: Return to hotel for dinner instructions and recap of day, then discuss next day's hike(s).

 Breakfast: The cafe is open 24 hours daily. Breakfast is anytime you choose, providing you can be ready to depart the hotel at 8:00 AM daily.
 Morning: Leaving the hotel at 8:00 AM we'll drive through Hell's Gate and on to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, then to Golden Canyon. This canyon gets its name for the colorful and golden terrain and is a beautiful way to begin the hike. Then traverse under stately Manly Beacon (so named after William Lewis Manly, hero of the Death Valley 49'ers) up and into the Badlands of the Black Mountains, south of the Furnace Creek Wash. You'll have lunch at Zabriskie Point, one of the most photographed sights in Death Valley (a place that most visitors consider a 'must' on their itineraries). After lunch, you'll head down Gower Gulch! You'll hike thorugh this water-carved canyon up close and personal.....see the geological features, color, and the various exploratory borax mines of the late 1800's. As you exit the canyon, you'll experience a breathtaking view of this magnificant park known as Death Valley! Then hike across alluvial fans to the Golden Canyon parking lot and prepare for the return trip home......this is where you can acknowledge your accomplishments of the day! On this hike, you'll traverse approximately 7+ miles with an elevation gain of about 900'. A stop at Furnace Creek Ranch may be scheduled in during your return trip to Beatty. You will need to carry your lunch and two liters of water on this hike. If you have any special dietary needs, you will need to bring them with you. We're sorry, but we cannot accommodate these requests.
 Lunch: Staff will pick up lunches in the morning and transport them for you. Lunch will be while on the hike. You will each be required to carry your sack lunch and a minimum of two liters of water on this hike. You will have lunch at Zabriskie of the most beautiful vistas in the Park. About the lunches......Lunch sacks contain the following items: sandwich with meat and cheese, separate bag of lettuce and tomato, bag of napkin/salt/pepper/plastic utensils/mustard and mayonnaise, fruit (usually an apple or orange since soft fruits 'crush' in packs), granola bar or similar item, and fruit roll or similar item, and pretzels or similar item. If you are on special diets and require special foods, you will need to bring them with you daily. We cannot accommodate special dietary needs. For more information, contact the program provider at or at 775-835-8708
 Afternoon: Continue hikes; see morning detail of day's hike.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the Stagecoach Hotel Casino. See Day One for details. Dinner is served at approx 6:30 pm daily.
 Evening: All participants are asked to attend the beginning of the Evening Programs. At that time, we'll discuss the day's activities and discuss the upcoming day's hikes, elevations, etc. All Evening Program that follow these brief recaps and talk, are optional. You can stay for all or part of the presentations, movies, etc.
Accommodations: Stagecoach Hotel/Casino
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Salt Creek to Burned Wagon Point/Mosaic Canyon/Stovepipe Wells Resort, return to hotel for dinner.
(Tuesday, April 2)

Note: We'll make a brief stop at Stovepipe Wells Resort (formerly known as "Bungalette City") to enjoy the views of Death Valley near the Dunes. Then we head back to the hotel; then dinner and prepare for the next day's hike(s). Brief review of today and discuss the next day's hikes.

 Breakfast: Completed and ready to depart by 8:00 AM for Death Valley.
 Morning: Arrive at Salt Creek, below sea level. During 1849, pioneers arrived in Death Valley. Follow their trail through Salt Creek and beyond. Along the way, look for sights such as, birds, animals, plant life and experience some of the terrain that the lost 1849'ers saw and experienced, and how the Jayhawkers travelled over salt flats and rolling hills to finally arrive at what is now known as Burned Wagon Point. Continuing on we'll take the northern route round-trip to the beginning of the trail, over the mounds and through the trails! All times and itineraries may vary.
 Lunch: Sack lunches will be passed out at Stovepipe Wells Village on Bob Eichbaum's original Toll Road into Death Valley. All times and locations may vary.
 Afternoon: We'll drive up an alluvial fan to the entrance to this magnificant of the most beautiful canyons in Death Valley. This is where you can actually touch and experience 750-million year old marble-like rock!! See the breccia formations, hike through beautiful carved narrows, to dry falls and beyond, and beyond and beyond! This canyon is a geological wonderland with its miles of twists and turns and its striking beauty. This is one of the areas of the park where you can see a variety of plant life and where we have had an occassional sighting of Desert Big Horn Sheep. All times and locations may vary.
 Dinner: We'll dine at the Stovepipe Wells Resort restaurant for dinner. This is a special day. After hiking all those miles, prepare for a great dinner at the resort restaurant. Perhaps you'll bring your bathing suit, too! Those wanting to take a dip in the hotel pool are welcomed! There is a $4.00 fee per person for the use of the pool, showers, bathrooms, etc. This includes a towel, as well. You'll need a bathing suit and personal toiletries. There is no need to "dress up" for dinner here.....everything is very casual and they are used to having "hikers and travellers" in the restaurant. (Of course, shoes and shirts are required.) Bottom line, after a good day of hiking, here's a chance to dip into the pool, cool down, shower, change clothes and have a relaxing dinner in another historic location of Death Valley National Park. Learn about Bob Eichbaum and his endeavors to bring tourism to Death Valley and the successes over the years. Selected menu choices will be made in advance. All times and locations may vary.
 Evening: No formal evening program. Brief talk at the restaurant to prepare for the next day's hiking schedule. Back to Beatty for a good night's sleep!
Accommodations: Stagecoach Hotel/Casino
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Jayhawker Canyon/Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes/A Night Off!
(Wednesday, April 3)

Note: We'll return to the hotel and meet for a recap of the day and discuss tomorrow's hikes and itinerary. Dinner, then a night off and get ready for the next day's hike.........this is the last big hike of the week and you can take time to prepare and get a good night's rest!

 Breakfast: Completed and ready to depart by 8:00 AM.
 Morning: Hike up a rugged alluvial fan into Jayhawker Canyon and head for the springs where there are several Native American petroglyphs, along with inscriptions from some of the early pioneers. Some participants will choose to stop and have lunch there, or continue beyond into a canyon where you'll see the black volcanic narrows and have lunch at that stop. This is believed to be the route that the Jayhawkers of 1849 took to finally leave Death Valley and make it to civilization. Return the same route, "in-and-out" hike.
 Lunch: Hikers will carry their lunches and water with them on the hike. See morning session for details on locations.
 Afternoon: The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (also known as the Death Valley Sand Dunes) are located near Stovepipe Wells Village. Hike to "Star Dune" the tallest dune in this dune system, and go through the dunes if you want still more hiking; fantastic 360 degree views of not only the sand dunes, but the mountains beyond that helped to create them. Identify a wide ariety of animal tracks including those of insects, mammals, birds, and reptiles. The beautiful afternoon shadows are a great way to wrap up the day's hikes and avail yourselves of the wide array of photo opportunities. Return to hotel. All times and locations may vary.
 Dinner: Dinner will be at the Stagecoach Hotel/Casino unless otherwise noted.
 Evening: There is no evening program tonight! BUT, we do have a variety of movies to watch in the meeting room, from geology, natural history, to the old ranger's "Death alley Days"! This is a chance for everyone to take time to relax, watch movies, wash out those "dirties", read, meet with other participants, walk the town of Beatty.....just do whatever it is you wish to do, relax and have an evening off to prepare for the big, big hike of Thursday! Some participants head for local restaurants for a change of pace, or have dinner and head for their rooms! You choose.
Accommodations: Stagecoach Hotel/Casino
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: The Final Day's Hike! We've been building you up to this finale and will announce the details on the evening prior, saving some of the best for last!
(Thursday, April 4)

Note: The location of this hike is determined upon group's hiking skills, weather factors in the Park during this week and road conditions. Please be flexible regards all planned itinerary events. This is a grand-finale day to your week and we work hard to be sure to have a well-planned hiking agenda throughout the week, culminating in a spectacular concluding hike!

 Breakfast: Completed and ready to depart by 8:00 AM for Death Valley.
 Morning: This is what you've been working for all week! This physically challenging hike is at Wildrose Peak! Hike to the top and look East to Badwater, then look West to Mount Whitney......the tallest mountain in the lower 48! Magnificent vistas! (providing weather cooperates!). This higher elevation hike begins at 6,900' and reaches approximately 9,100' and you'll be among pine trees in Death Valley! This is truly a fabulous way to end your hiking experience in Death Valley National Park! Some of the most fantastic views of Death Valley can been seen from this location. Some comments from past participants have been that this was one of the most exhilarating and fulfilling hikes they've ever done! Remember, of course, that all times and locations can change due to weather, etc., but you will have a great final hike!
 Lunch: Hikers will carry lunch & water on hike.
 Afternoon: Continue hike. See Morning hike description.
 Dinner: Dinner at the hotel.
 Evening: A special surprise evening program is planned for you in the meeting room at the hotel at 7:30-7:45 pm. This is a must and you won't want to miss it! We'll also talk about the Friday, lunches, depatures, etc. We will be making a stop at the historic Furnace Creek Inn on Friday, so we'll discuss those details as well.
Accommodations: Stagecoach Hotel/Casino
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Depart hotel in the morning and head to the Park, or other location (dependent on weather, etc.). Part of the group will head back to Las Vegas in the vans and the others will head to their next destinations on their own. Lunch included, if desired.
(Friday, April 5)

Note: Make a last stop in the Park for a non-hiking event......tour the Furnace Creek Inn on your own, or head to the Visitor Center, stop at the Harmony Borax Works site or Museum, see some of the sights that have been "eluding you" throughout the week. Enjoy your last look in the Park, then program concludes and we all head home, or to the airport. Those in the shuttle to Las Vegas will have their lunch enroute; others will have theirs enroute to their next destination, too, if desired.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in hotel dining room.
 Morning: We'll leave the hotel in Beatty for our last stop at the Furnace Creek Inn for a glimpse into its design, grounds and history. The Furnace Creek Inn is known as the "Oasis of Death Valley". It's a fabulous hotel with a rich history to match its grandeur! How was it built? When? Why was it located here? ......Who are some of its famous guests? Where does the water come from to support this resort? Spend a little time wandering its lush grounds and visiting its lobby and gift shop. Then prepare to leave the program. The shuttle vans will depart for Las Vegas no later than 1:30 pm and they'll go through Death Valley Junction and Pahrump, NV enroute to the McCarran Airport Rent-A-Car-Center in Las Vegas. Participants driving their own vehicles will depart the from the Inn and head for their next destination.
 Lunch: Lunches will be provided for all who complete the program on Friday, including the stop at the Furnace Creek Inn; this stop concludes the program. Those leaving the program early and not going to the Inn will be responsible for their lunch enroute to their next destination. We wish each of you a safe journey to your next destinations!
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

A Trip Through Death Valley's Geologic Past

Author: Ken Lengner

Description: During an estimated 2.5 billion years, the unique Death Valley region was torn apart, submerged beneath the seas, crushed by onrushing tectonic plates, and torn apart yet again. It witnessed rising and falling sea levels, a wide range of climates, mountain building and erosion, earthquakes, volcanoes, the birth and diversification of life in ancient seas, and the last 250 million years of evolution of plant and animal life on land. This is a journey along a trail of rocks that provides a chronological and pictorial overview of the geological history of the Death Valley region. Available at

Death Valley & The Amargosa: A land of Illusion

Author: Richard Lingenfelter

Description: Spanning a century up to 1933, a story of metals, mountains, Indians, prospectors and tourists—but mostly the story of the illusions of a shortcut to the gold diggings that lured so many. Includes maps, illustrations and index. Softbound - 664 pages, available at

Death Valley in 1849

Author: John Southworth

Description: An intensely interesting and informative unraveling of some of the mysteries of the legendary Death Valley '49ers. Not content with parroting previous theories of the Jayhawkers, et al, trail retracings, Southworth's findings are the result of years of on the scene searching. An excellent addition to the library of historians or armchair readers delving into the fascinating story of the gold rush emigrants who blundered into Death Valley on their fateful 'short cut' to California's Mother Lode. Available at

What’s included in this Road Scholar program?

Except for the occasional meal on some programs, Road Scholar programs are all-inclusive. That means there are no extra “options,” no passing the hat for tips and no surprises. From lectures and field trips to gratuities and accommodations – the price you pay up front is the price you pay.

Specifically, this program includes:

© Road Scholar 2016 | Call toll-free: 1-800-454-5768