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Hiking Death Valley National Park

Program Number: 6120RJ
Start and End Dates:
2/1/2015 - 2/6/2015; 2/21/2016 - 2/26/2016; 2/28/2016 - 3/4/2016; 11/6/2016 - 11/11/2016; 11/13/2016 - 11/18/2016; 11/27/2016 - 12/2/2016; 12/4/2016 - 12/9/2016; 12/11/2016 - 12/16/2016; 1/8/2017 - 1/13/2017; 1/22/2017 - 1/27/2017; 1/29/2017 - 2/3/2017; 2/5/2017 - 2/10/2017; 2/12/2017 - 2/17/2017; 2/26/2017 - 3/3/2017;
Duration: 5 nights
Location: Death Valley National Park, California
Price starting at: $1,499.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Walking/Hiking; National Parks Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 14; 5 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 5 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

See a side of Death Valley that most tourists never do, as you join expert instructors and naturalists on hikes through dramatically beautiful landscapes. Explore a variety of terrain while hiking through carved scenic canyons, crystallized salt pans, ancient lake deposits, alluvial fans, mesquite flats and mud playas. Stop at renowned historical sites: Artist's Palette, the Harmony Borax Works, Stovepipe Wells Village, Beatty Museum and the ghost town of Rhyolite. This is a unique and up-close way to understand how geology tells its incredible story of change in one of America’s most amazing National Parks!


• Hike the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and visit Badwater, the lowest place in North America (282 feet below sea level).
• In Salt Creek, hike the trail of pioneers who searched for a safe route to the gold country of California, and learn about the endangered fish in Death Valley.
• Explore the terrain of desert alluvial fans and learn the boom-to-bust story of the ghost town of Rhyolite.

Activity Particulars

For experienced hikers. Daily hikes, 4-6 miles. Elevations up to 1,000 feet.

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.

Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley National Park. One scheduled shuttle transfer available (for a fee) from/to Las Vegas.
Meals and Lodgings
   Furnace Creek Ranch
  Death Valley National Park 5 nights
 Furnace Creek Ranch
Type: Resort
  Description: The Furnace Creek Ranch presents a complete contrast to the desolate desert landscape and an oasis that consists of an 18-hole golf course (the world's lowest course at 214 feet below sea level), four restaurants, a saloon, a cocktail lounge, retail outlets, a Borax Museum, spring-fed swimming pools, tennis courts, horseback riding, horse-drawn carriage rides, a children's playground, massage therapy, a 3,000 foot airstrip, a service station and conference and banquet facilities for 10 - 120. (Some services are available only on a seasonal basis.) Furnace Creek Ranch is the perfect vantage point from which to explore Death Valley National Park!
  Contact info: Highway 190
Death Valley, CA 92328 USA
phone: 760-786-2345
  Room amenities: Standard rooms are located in four, two-story buildings. All rooms have French doors leading to small patios or balconies. All units have two queen beds, air conditioning, hair dryers, in-room coffee makers, TV, phone, full private bath and mini-refrigerators. Roll-a-ways are permitted in these rooms. All Standard rooms are non-smoking.
  Facility amenities: Here's a quick list of services and amenities available at our lodging facilities at Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley National Park. •Airport Transportation to Furnace Creek Airstrip •Parking for Cars, Buses •Business Services – fax, photocopy and shipping assistance available at Front Desk •Bilingual Service •Wireless Internet access available in the guest rooms and included in daily resort fee. •ADA Compliant Accommodations
  Smoking allowed: No
  Additional nights prior: $139-$219 To make reservations for additional night either before or after youre program contact Furnace Creek Ranch at or call 800-236-7916.
  Check in time: 4:00 PM
  Additional nights after: $139-$219 To make reservations for additional night either before or after youre program contact Furnace Creek Ranch at or call 800-236-7916.

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check into hotel between 3 p.m. and 4:45 pm. For more information, contact provider at or call 775-764-0726 You will be staying at Furnace Creek Ranch that night.
  End of Program:
Program concludes on the last day; no scheduled activities. You will be staying at Furnace Creek Ranch the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. Please complete the Hiking Questionnaire, Liability Release Agreement, and Participant Information Forms prior to the start of the program.
  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 your vehicle contents and its safety. No problems to date.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Death Valley National Park
  Nearest city or town:  Pahrump Nevada
  Nearest highway: CA Hwy 190
  Nearest airport:  Las Vegas
  From End of Program
  Location: Death Valley National Park
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details

Las Vegas


From Airport




Commercial Van/Shuttle
Death Valley Institute
phone: 800-478-8564 x10or7757640726
Advanced Reservations Required


Per Person/One Way:


$100.00 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 arrive at 12:45 and will depart the McCarran Rent a Center once shuttle riders are checked in. We will make stops in Pahrump at a grocery store prior to arriving at our destination. On the final day of the program the shuttle will return to the Rent A Car center at about 3 pm. Book your departure flight for after 6 pm. Friday traffic is unpredictable. If you have more questions please call us at 775-764-0726 or email at


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. Furnace Creek is located on Highway 190 in Death Valley National Park, CA. It is approximately 2.5-3 hours SW of Las Vegas.

Driving Directions
  Important Tips! Always be sure to check your travel atlas prior to beginning your trip. Also, make sure you have clear instructions on your travel plans and carry plenty of liquid and water with you when travelling through Death Valley National Park, or its surrounding areas. The desert is a very dry place and you'll need to have ample water with you while travelling. If you need more information, please contact the program provider at or call 775-764-0726
  Las Vegas, Nevada Highway 15 (S) to Blue Diamond/Pahrump exit 33, Highway 160 to Pahrump. Continue to Bell Vista, turn left to Death Valley. At Death Valley Junction (Amargossa Opera House) turn right. Then left on High way 190. This will take you to the Furnace Creek Ranch.
  Los Angeles Follow instructions to Ridgecrest, California; then to Trona, then into Death Valley National Park continue on to Furnace Creek Ranch.
  Reno, Nevada Drive East on Highway 80 to Fernley, to Highway 50 to Fallon, Nevada, to Highway 95, South, to Beatty. Continue through Beatty to Death Valley and on to Furnace Creek Ranch.
  San Diego, California Drive north on Highway 15, follow route in road Atlas to Death Valley National Park, to Furnace Creek Ranch. ALWAYS TAKE WATER WITH YOU THROUGH DEATH VALLEY!
Elevation Note: Portions of the program will be above 3000', but most are well below that elevation.

Equipment Requirements: Equipment required includes daypack, water canteen(s) to hold minimum 2 liters per day, hiking boots/shoes (walking shoes not acceptable except in town), trekking poles highly recommended for some hikes, layered clothing for changeable weather, wide-brimmed hiking hat is a must, sunscreen, sunglasses, first aid supplies, & more in general information packet that is sent to participants after enrollment. Please see "What to Bring" sheet included in this packet for full details on what to pack.
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: Check-in/Orientation
(Sunday, February 1)
 Arrive To: Please check into the Registration Office at the hotel between 3:00pm and 4:45pm on Sunday.
 Dinner: Dinner will be held at The Wrangler at 6:00pm. Dinners include a variety of meals, including salads, main courses, meats, chicken, fish, pastas or rice, and vegetables. We will do our best to accommodation special diets on this program; if you have any special dietary needs or requests, you should bring those items with you to the program. Participants have in-room refrigerators for any special meal items. Please contact the program coordinator at 775-764-0726 if you have any questions regarding meals.
 Evening: Following dinner, program orientation will be held in the Furnace Creek Visitors' Center. You'll receive your name tag then, and have the opportunity to meet other participants and program staff. The evening program includes a discussion of Death Valley and the hikes to come during the upcoming week. We'll discuss the program's safety features and locations in detail and how the week will work. We'll take time to answer questions participants may have and make sure each participant has a clear view of the week to come. We'll also make sure we move through the program quickly to afford each individual to have time to rest, unpack and prepare for the week's activities. This is a fun evening with a lot of information to share. Please be sure to arrive somewhat rested and be ready to have a great week! Please note - the following itinerary reflects the planned itinerary. Times and itineraries may vary due to a variety of conditions. Please be ready to be flexible.
Accommodations: Furnace Creek Ranch
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Dante’s View/Badwater/Artist's Palette Road
(Monday, February 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet opens at 6:00am. Please be finished by 7:45am to board buses for today’s activities. Meal vouchers are used for breakfast meals. They include a variety of choices: eggs, breakfast meats (bacon & sausage), toast, biscuits, potatoes & oatmeal, cold cereal, yogurt, and fruit. Juice, coffee, tea, or milk is also included.
 Morning: Vans are opened and ready to board at 7:50am, and leave the hotel at 8:00am. We start our hiking adventure in Dante's View, where you will be able to see and explore the floor of Death Valley. There are two hikes available: challenge yourself on a longer, upper hike or take the gentler lower hike. Both hikes are less than 1 mile and include rough, hilly terrain and cliffs.
 Lunch: Staff picks up lunches in the morning and transports them for you. Lunch will either be during a hike or at another location.
 Afternoon: After lunch we head to Badwater, the lowest place in the Northern Hemisphere, at 282' below sea level and the hottest place on earth. Walk out onto the basin and marvel at this location in Death Valley. Afterwards, we'll visit the Devil's Golf Course and stop along the winding Artist's Palette road. See the corals, blues, greens, lilacs, and pinks laid down in Death Valley by volcanic deposits up close on a short ¼ to ½ mile hike. Later we may visit The Borax Museum, or the Harmony Borax Works, the actual site of some of the Borax Mining operations in the Park before we return to the Furnace Creek Ranch for dinner and the evening program.
 Dinner: Return to the hotel around 5:00-5:30 pm; dinner is approximately 6:30pm.
 Evening: Evening programs recap the day's activities and answer questions. Then we discuss the next day's hike: where we're going, its location in the Park, trail details, etc., followed by a brief activity, such as a comprehensive film about the geology of Death Valley. While all evening activities are optional, it is important that ALL participants attend the beginning portion to recap the day and discuss the upcoming hikes for the next day. We keep them short so you can prepare for the next day's hike and get a good night's rest. All times and itineraries may change.
Accommodations: Furnace Creek Ranch
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Mosaic Canyon/Salt Creek/Stovepipe Wells/ Mesquite Sand Dunes
(Tuesday, February 3)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet opens at 6:00am. Please be finished by 7:45am to board buses for today’s activities.
 Morning: The vans will be ready at 7:50am with the engines running and heat on (if needed). Please be on time so we can take advantage of the maximum amount of daylight hours for the program. We arrive at Mosaic Canyon, a 2 mile hike that explores the polished rock fragment mosaics that make up the canyon walls. We then head Salt Creek, the place where the historic Death Valley 49'ers crossed in 1849 trying to find a safe route out of Death Valley to the Gold country in California. Hike ½ mile along Salt Creek, home to one of five species of Pupfish (yes, there are fish in Death Valley). Afterwards, we’ll visit Stovepipe Wells and where we will enjoy lunch at the picnic tables with a view of the Sand Dunes and more.
 Lunch: Lunch will be at Stovepipe Wells Village on the site of the historic and original Toll Road into Death Valley. Developed and created by Bob Eichbaum in the 1920s, it is one of the many areas built during that era to bring tourism into Death Valley.
 Afternoon: Our hike this afternoon is about 2 miles along the Mesquite Sand Dunes. A full sun hike, you'll need plenty of water, a wide-brimmed sun hat, sunglasses, and sun protection. You will be able to explore a variety of vistas and stretch your legs as much or as little as you choose. These dunes are extraordinary and a fabulous place for spectacular photos. You will be able to explore on your own, go in small groups, or hike to the Star Dune. There are abundant animal tracks and if you're lucky you may see birds and other living animals such as coyotes or lizards, all dependent on seasons, rainfall, migration patterns, etc. Discover how both the nocturnal and diurnal animals in the area live and hunt. After the Dunes, we may have time to explore other areas of the Valley, depending on the time and the weather.
 Dinner: Return to the ranch for dinner.
 Evening: Recap the day's activities and answer questions. Then we discuss the next day's hike: where we're going, its location in the Park, trail details, etc., followed by a brief activity that can vary from the Borax history, to natural history of the area, to the tales of Walter Scott and Scotty's Castle and the impact of gold in Death Valley, the tale of the survival of the '49ers in search for gold in California. Be prepared for an informative evening, regardless of the topic or method.
Accommodations: Furnace Creek Ranch
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Alluvial Fans/Scotty’s Castle/Historic Exploration/Free Evening
(Wednesday, February 4)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet opens at 6:00am. Please be finished by 7:45am to board buses for today’s activities.
 Morning: On the way to Scotty’s Castle, stop and explore the alluvial fans of Death Valley. See first-hand how rainfall plays a hand in shaping this desert landscape, and discover the fan-like sediment formations that are formed from flash floods.
 Lunch: Enjoy a sack lunch picnic at the tables on the grounds of famous Scotty's Castle. This unique and wonderful castle was built in the 1920s and 1930s in the heart of the northern end of Death Valley. We may even see coyotes, birds and other wildlife at this great place that has an abundance of water.
 Afternoon: Scotty's Castle is a Spanish Colonial Revival style villa located in the park. Explore this historic structure, guided by National Park Rangers dressed in period clothing. Learn about the history of how the castle was built, the relationship shared between prospector Walter "Scotty" Scott and wealthy investor Albert Johnson, and delve into the by-gone days of Death Valley. Explore the grounds either before your tour or after and even walk up the hill to Scotty's grave, where he's buried with his dog, Windy. Afterwards, we'll return to the Furnace Creek Ranch for dinner.
 Dinner: Return to the ranch, dinner is scheduled for 6:30pm.
 Evening: After a brief description of Thursday's hike, enjoy free time Wednesday evening to relax, read, visit with other participants, gather at the spring fed (84° year round) pool, spend time alone, or get ready for Thursday's big hike. Whatever you prefer, the night is yours to enjoy. BUT, do get rested for the grand hike on Thursday.
Accommodations: Furnace Creek Ranch
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Zabriskie Point/Golden Canyon
(Thursday, February 5)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet opens at 6:00am. Please be finished by 7:45am to board buses for today’s activities.
 Morning: Today is a full day of hikes and exploration, with options for hikes that will be covered in detail prior to beginning each one. This is an all day excursion so make sure you have plenty of water and snacks to get you through until we return to Furnace Creek for dinner. We will drive to the beautiful Zabriskie Point, part of the Amargosa Mountain Range. From here we’ll start our hike down Golden Canyon, a 4 mile hike with elevation gains.
 Lunch: Enjoy a picnic sack lunch along the way.
 Afternoon: As we continue on down Golden Canyon, you may also choose to walk/hike several different areas and meet up with the vans further down the canyon.
 Dinner: Enjoy dinner at the Wrangler after returning from a fabulous day of hiking and accomplishments.
 Evening: This evening, join fellow participants for the exciting week in review and prepare for the following morning's events.
Accommodations: Furnace Creek Ranch
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Program Departures
(Friday, February 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet opens at 6:00am.
 Morning: Program ends following breakfast. For participants taking the shuttle back to Las Vegas (for a fee), please be prepared to leave by 9:00am. Estimated arrival time at McCarren International Airport is 2:00pm, barring road closures and traffic. Please do not schedule flight departures earlier than 5:00pm. For participants departing on their own, hotel check-out is 11:00am. A safe journey to the next destination is wished for all participants and hopefully, you'll continue your Road Scholar experiences and perhaps return again!
Meals Included: Breakfast
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

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