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What's Open in Summer

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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What's Open in Summer

For those planning summer Death Valley trips, the National Park Service visitor programs, talks, and guided walks are over for the season. They run from October through April.

If you have a large group, it may be possible to arrange for a program if staff is available. Contact Terry Baldino, Park Chief of Interpretation, at 760-786-3279 or Terry_Baldino@nps.gov.

The park visitor center is open all year, 8-5 and a video about Death Valley runs continuously until 4:00.

Scotty's Castle tours continue during the summer and the Castle visitor center is also open (this is about 3000' in elevation, nice if you'd like be a break from the hot valley floor).

Furnace Creek Inn is closed from after Mother's Day to early October, but Furnace Creek Ranch and Stove Pipe Wells (Xanterra Corp. park resorts) and the independent Panamint Springs Resort are open. FCR, SPW, and PSR have restaurants and gas stations (SPW typically costs the least), and snacks at the Castle.

south
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1. Re: What's Open in Summer

Is a summer trip thru Death Valley a bad idea? Does anyone go there in early June? We are travelling from Yosemite (Mariposa) to Grand Canyon, and I was considering a route thru DV, with a one night stop at Furnace Creek Ranch. Opinions? Thanks!

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
14,886 posts
49 reviews
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2. Re: What's Open in Summer

It's a bad idea only if you think it is. Many people do go in summer; in fact, a large % are from Europe. Many of them do a "grand circle" tour of Western parks and cities with S.F. and L.A. at each end and Death Valley, Las Vegas, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Monterey, and Napa in between. Others base their trips in Salt Lake or Denver and focus on Yellowstone, Teton, and Glacier.

Some Americans have "discovered" summer in Death Valley as well. Yes, it's hot, but * cliché alert * it's a dry heat. If you're from Dixie, 120° with 10-15% relative humidity shouldn't be too bad! And since there are fewer people than in spring or winter, it is pretty peaceful and uncrowded.

Death Valley is staffed by National Park Service rangers who live there all year long, also by the Calif. Highway Patrol and Inyo County sheriff's office, who have officers living there. The visitor center and Scotty's Castle are open every day, but there are fewer visitor activities, guided walks, etc. You can get food, gas, supplies, and lodging all year, although there is more available from October-May.

Each season has its pluses. In summer, there are still plants to see, and the park is a geologists' dream because the vegetation is not as dense and you can see the formations better. If you go to the higher elevations, it's cooler (rule of thumb: about 5° difference for every 1000' elevation), so Dante's View, Scotty's Castle, or the Panamint range would be more comfortable. In early morning or after sunset, some of the wildlife is more active.

The main roads are good, so a regular car will be fine. I find that many people on their first visit are intrigued with backroads trips and want to rent 4WDs, but it can take so long to get to the backcountry to see one major site (e.g. the Racetrack) that they miss out on many wonderful experiences on or near main roads.

If you go, be sure you have plenty of water for you and your vehicle, plus snacks to keep up your energy and electrolytes. A gallon a day per person is not extreme. Also, take it easy and pace yourself--on foot and in the car. The most notorious cause of death among DV visitors is thirst and dehydration--but the most COMMON cause is traffic accidents. Not collisions, but single-car wrecks.

If you're prepared and realize the conditions you'll be in, you can have a great time in DV in June!

3. Re: What's Open in Summer

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