6120
California
Hiking Death Valley National Park
Surreal golden hills & Narrow canyons. Salt flats & Sand dunes. A history of explorers, dreamers and survivors. Step off the pavement and experience Death Valley!
Rating (4.95)
Program No. 6120RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,549
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
See travel details and required documents
DAY
1
Check-in, Welcome Dinner, Registration & Orientation
Death Valley National Park
D
Furnace Creek Ranch

Activity note: Hotel check-in is 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: While waiting for the remainder of participants to arrive, feel free to unpack, relax, and explore Furnace Creek Ranch.

Dinner: Dinner at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Evening: Program Registration and Orientation. Hike Leaders will escort us to the meeting room where the Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We’ll get our welcome packets and name-tags, review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. We will start getting to know each other and take our first “steps” toward defining for ourselves the question: “What is Death Valley?”All transportation will be provided by vans, unless specified otherwise. The Group and Hike Leaders will lead all lectures, field trips and hikes unless indicated otherwise. Each evening will contain a review of the day’s highlights, preparatory information for the next day, and discussion of optional evening activities. Each day, be sure to wear sturdy walking shoes, and bring a water bottle, sun protection, a daypack, and anything else you will need for hiking in the hot desert sun. Also bring layers for warmth; the desert gets colder than you might expect. A flashlight is useful for going out to look at night sky. All provided meals include a vegetarian option if requested beforehand on your program paperwork. We will do our best to meet dietary needs. Please contact the program coordinator at 775-764-0726 if you have any questions. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Evenings at leisure offer opportunities to make the program more meaningful and memorable through personal independent exploration, engaging in available activities on your own, or simply relaxing and making new friends among fellow participants. The Group Leader will always be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local conditions/circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
Badwater, Natural Bridge, Mummy Canyon
Death Valley National Park
B,L,D
Furnace Creek Ranch

Activity note: Morning: Visit lowest point in North America at Badwater. Hike 2 miles into Natural Bridge Canyon. Afternoon: 2-hour, 2-mile hike into Mummy Canyon. Total driving time 1.5 hours. No trails, hiking in washes. Terrain is uneven, unstable, with sand, gravel, cobbles, and larger.

Breakfast: Breakfast at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Morning: We will start the day traveling by vans to the lowest place in North America, the salt pan at Badwater, 282 feet below sea level; a 25-minute, 18-mile drive. At this stop, there will be a short talk about the geomorphology and hydrology of the region and its impact on what we see, then 20-30 minutes to explore. We will then travel back up the Badwater road, stopping for a 1-hour, 2-mile, round-trip, hike up a wash into Natural Bridge Canyon, where we see one of the natural bridges found in Death Valley National Park; a great place for photos. Next a scenic drive along Artist Palette Drive to enjoy colorful volcanic formations (how the road got its name). We then return to Furnace Creek Ranch for lunch.

Lunch: Lunch at Furnace Creek Ranch

Afternoon: After lunch, we will transfer by vans to the park entrance sign, a 15-minute (13 mile) drive, where we will take a group photo. From that spot we will head into Mummy Canyon for a 1.8-mile hike, lasting around 2 hours* (*All hike times are approximate. The schedule is intentionally loose enough to allow for different hiking speeds, individual exploration, time for photos, etc.). The hike will include a short 10-15 minute talk about the Mojave desert and why this will be the only place we are likely to see any cacti during the program.

Dinner: Dinner at Furnace Creek Ranch

Evening: At the end of dinner Hike Leaders will lead a short recap and sharing session to chronicle the day’s adventures, provide important information for the next day’s activities. After dinner there will be a guide led program about the night sky. Death Valley is an International Dark Sky Park.

DAY
3
Harmony Borax Works, Mosaic Canyon hike, Sand Dunes hike
Death Valley National Park
B,L,D
Furnace Creek Ranch

Activity note: 1-2 hikes, about 3-5 miles total. Substrate can be sand, gravel, or smooth stone. Expert talk at Harmony Borax Works. Mosaic Canyon hike - about 3 miles, approx. 2 hours. Visit Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Hike to tallest dune with guide:1-mile, 2-hour hike. Or explore on own. Will drive 50 miles during the day, approx. 1 hour. Bring plenty of water and sun protection for all hikes: there is little to no shade. Hiking poles highly recommended for dune hike.

Breakfast: Breakfast at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Morning: We will transfer by van to the historic Harmony Borax Works, a short ride away. We will hear an expert lecture about borax mining in Death Valley and the 20-Mule Team Trains.Next, we’ll continue 25 minutes on to Mosaic Canyon and its polished, marbleized walls and breccia formations.

Lunch: Enjoy a box lunch at Stovepipe Wells Village; water provided, other beverages available for purchase at the store.

Afternoon: The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are next to Stovepipe Wells Village (we'll find out why).Join a hike leader on a 2-mile, 2-hour hike to the highest dune in this dune field; hiking poles required, poles are available for loan. Or explore dune area on own. These dunes are a fabulous place for spectacular photos, look for animal tracks, or just rest and reflect. Then a 25-minute drive back to Furnace Creek Ranch.

Dinner: Dinner at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Evening: Recap session, followed by an expert lecture on Death Valley history.

DAY
4
Fall Canyon Hike, Hell's Gate, Rhyolite Ghost Town
Death Valley National Park
B,L,D
Furnace Creek Ranch

Activity note: Explore a lesser known canyon on a 2-3 mile hike into Fall Canyon. Terrain is rough, uneven, with some grades. Afternoon: expert-led walk through Rhyolite – about a ½ mile with periods of standing on paved surfaces, 1 hour; be prepared for variations in temperature as we change elevations. We’ll drive about 90 miles today, approximately 2 hours, with stops.

Breakfast: Breakfast at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Morning: We will transfer by van 35 miles, 40 minutes, to the Titus Canyon parking area, which is also the place to begin the Fall Canyon hike, which is one canyon over. The hike is 3-4 miles. The trail goes up a scenic wash, walking through sand, gravel, and cobbles. There are a few short, steep grades.

Lunch: Enjoy a box lunch, while overlooking an expansive view of Death Valley at Hell's Gate.

Afternoon: We then travel to Rhyolite, a once-thriving Nevada town that eventually dispersed, leaving behind empty shells of a community. With a local expert, we’ll find out what caused this once-prosperous community to become the ghost town that it is today. We then return to Furnace Creek Ranch, 40 miles, 50 minutes away.

Dinner: Dinner at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Evening: Recap session. The remainder of the evening will be at leisure.

DAY
5
Zabriskie Point-Golden Canyon hike
Death Valley National Park
B,L,D
Furnace Creek Ranch

Activity note: 1-way hike from Zabriskie Point through Golden Canyon. About 3 miles, approx. 2 hours. It is a one-way, moderately strenuous hike, generally traveling downhill (870 ft. elevation change), but interspersed with short steep uphill, and downhill sections. There is a packed earth trail much of the way.

Breakfast: Breakfast at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Morning: We will make the short drive to beautiful Zabriskie Point (elevation 710 ft) and enjoy its stunning view. Then we will start our 1-way hike down into Golden Canyon. We’ll traverse a surreal landscape of barren golden hills formed from uptilted layers of ancient lake bottoms.

Lunch: We’ll enjoy our boxed lunches in a nearby canyon.

Afternoon: Free Time. Take this opportunity for personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Furnace Creek Ranch offers a spring fed, 82-degee swimming pool and the lowest golf course in North America. Visit the Inn, National Park Visitor Center, and/or the Borax Museum. Hike guides will be happy to offer suggestions. For any who are interested, there will be a trip to Dante's View, 5,476 feet elevation, with its spectacular panorama; there is a 45-minute drive each way.

Dinner: Dinner at Furnace Creek Ranch.

Evening: We’ll gather at the Visitor Center conference room where we first met for a wrap-up session during which we will share our favorite experiences from the program with our new Road Scholar friends. Afterwards, be sure to prepare for check-out and departure in the morning.

DAY
6
Program Concludes
Death Valley National Park
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out by 11:00 a.m. For those using the shuttle to the Las Vegas airport, vans depart at 8:30.

Breakfast: Breakfast at Furnace Creek Ranch. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoyed your Road Scholar learning adventure and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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