DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK: A LAND OF EXTREMES
Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and three million acres of stone wilderness. Death Valley is about two hours away from Las Vegas and is home to the Timbisha Shoshone and to plants and animals unique to the harshest deserts. A place of legend and a place of trial.
Death Valley National Park is usually considered a winter park, but it is possible to visit here all year. When is the best time to visit? It all depends on what you're looking for.
AUTUMN arrives in Late October, with warm but pleasant temperatures and generally clear skies. The camping season begins in fall and so do the Ranger Programs, which continue through spring. Although it is not very crowded at this time of year, the weeks leading up to Death Valley '49ers Encampment (second week in November) and the Thanksgiving holiday are busy.
WINTER has cool days, chilly nights and rarely, rainstorms. With snow capping the high peaks and low angled winter light, this season is especially beautiful for exploring the valley. The period after Thanksgiving and before Christmas is the least crowded time of the entire year. Peak winter visitation periods include Christmas to New Year's, Martin Luther King Day weekend in January and Presidents' Day weekend in February. Reservations will be helpful.
SPRINGTIME is the most popular time to visit Death Valley. Besides warm and sunny days, the possibility of spring wildflowers is a big attraction. If the previous winter brought rain, the desert can put on an impressive floral display, usually peaking in late March to early April. Check their website for wildflower updates. Spring break for schools throughout the west brings families and students to the park from the last week of March through the week after Easter. Campgrounds and lodging are usually packed at that time , so reservations are recommended.
SUMMER starts early in Death Valley. By May the valley is too hot for most visitors, yet throughout the hottest months, visitors from around the world still flock to the park. Lodging and camping are available, but only the most hardy will want to camp in the low elevations in the summer. Most summer visitors tour by car to the main points of interest along the paved roads but do little else due to the extreme heat. Those wanting to hike will find the trails to Telescope and Wildrose Peaks are at their best in summer, but it is best to wait.
Points of interest in Death Valley - SCOTTY'S CASTLE
Death Valley Scotty told everyone that he built this castle in northern Death Valley with money from his "secret" gold mine. That was not quite the truth. A Chicago millionaire and his wife built their "Death Valley Ranch" in the cool of Grapevine Canyon and they let their friend Scotty live there as a guest.
Cost - Entrance Fee $20.00 7 days
Hours: 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Daily
Location: U.S. 95 and Nevada Route 267, Death Valley
GREAT BASIN NATIONAL PARK
In the shadow of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak, 5,000 year old bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines. Come to Great Basin National Park to experience the solitude of the desert, the smell of sagebrush after a thunderstrom, the darkest of night skies, and the beauty of Lehman Caves. Far from a Wasteland, the Great Basin is a diverse region that awaits your discovery.
Whether visiting for a day, or week, endless opportunities abound for recreation and relaxation in Great Basin National Park. Stop at a visitor center and ask a ranger for recommendations on activities to fit your schedule and your group. Below are a few ideas to get you started. Be sure to check out Things to Know Before You Come for important information on pets, services, and current conditions that may affect your plans.
Half A Day
*Check out the exhibits in both visitor centers.
*Join a Lehman Caves Tour, 60 or 90 minutes in length.
*Drive the 12 mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive for unparalleled views of the mountains and surrounding valleys.
*Stroll along the 1/4 mile Island Forest Trail at the end of the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive.
*Walk the self-guided Mountain View Nature Trail, located next to the Lehman Caves Visitor
Center. and experience the sights, sounds and smells of a pinyon-juniper forest.
*Attend an evening campfire program at the upper Lehman Creek Campground.
*Enjoy a picnic lunch at the secluded Pole Canyon Picnic Area, located off the Baker Creek Road.
*Venture up the Bristlecone Pine Trail to see the oldest living organisms in the world (2.8 miles
roundtrip). Continue further up the trail to see Nevada's only glacier at the base of Wheeler
*Sign the kids up to become Great Basin Junior Rangers.
*Find a comfortable spot after sunset for some stargazing under one of the darkest night skies in
TWO OR MORE DAYS
*Head into the backcountry for an overnight on the Baker/Johnson Lake Loop Trail.
*Enjoy fishing on Lehman or Baker.
*Hike to Lexington Arch, located 25 miles south of Baker.
*Visit the Baker Archeological Site to see the site of an excavated Fremont Indian Village.
*Search for ancient rock art at Pictograph Cave.
*Summit Wheeler Peak, the 2nd highest peak in Nevada (elevation 13,063 ft.)
Points of interest - LEHMAN CAVES is a beautiful limestone cave ornately decorated with stactities, stalagmites, helicties, flowstone, popcorn, and over 300 rare shield formations.
Location: The Great Basin National Park is located in the east central Nevada, five miles west of the town of Baker. This is a remote area with limited services, so please plan ahead!. Open daily from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm an extended hours in the summer. Call 775-234-7331 X 260.
Cost: Great Basin National Park has no entrance fee.
There is aper person fee charged for all visitors on cave tours
60 minute tour 16 7 older $8.00, age 5-15 $4.00
LAKE MEAD NATIONAL RECREATIONAL AREA
Lake Mead National Recreational Area offers a wealth of things to do and places to go year-round. Its huge lakes cater to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers. It is also home to thousands of desert plants animals, adapted to survive in an extreme place where rain is scarce and temperatures soar. One of the many aspects of the Lake Mead National Recreational Area that continually draws visitors is its good weather. Many people come just to relax in the land of the sun. Refugees from states hit hard by winter's icy clutch often flee to this area to spend a mild winter. Sunbathers and water skiers spend summers here to toast in the 110 degree F plus temperatures. The area generally has less than five inches of annual rainfall. Winter temperature may range from 45 degrees F. to 85 degrees F.
Cost: 1 - 5 days $5.00 per vehicle(covers all passengers)
Location: There are nine main access points to Lake Mead National Recreation Area, which includes two lakes and over 1.5 million acres of land. The Lake Mead Visitor Center, also called Alan Bible Visitor Center is located off of U.S. 93 four miles Southeast of Boulder City.
Hours: Open 24 hours, 7 days week
Mt Charleston provides an opportunity to get way from the Strip. Many tourist think Las Vegas is surrounded by desert but, less than 40 miles from the Strip you'll be amazed to see waterfalls, songbirsds, deer and forest in Las Vegas area. Very popular place for tourist and residents for many years.
Temperature is usually 25 to 35 degrees below that of the valley and there's various campgrounds and picnic areas. If you don't like camping, around 7,000 feet above you will find beautiful Mount Charleston log cabins.
Location: 35 miles Northwest of Las Vegas Strip, Mount Charleston, NV
800-280-2267 ( camp reservation center)
VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK
Valley of Fire State Park is located only six miles from Lake Mead and 55 miles northeast of Las Vegas via interstate 15 and on exit 75. Valley of Fire is Nevada's oldest and largest state park, dedicated 1935. The valley derives its name from the red sandstone formations and the stark beauty of the Mojave Desert. Ancient trees and early man are represented through the park by areas of petrified wood and 3,000 year-old Indian petroglyph. Popular activities include camping, hiking, picnicking and photography. The park offers a full-scale visitor center with extensive interpretive displays. The Park is open all year. Spring and Fall are the preferred Season for visiting the Valley of Fire.
point s of interest - ATLATL ROCK: Outstanding examples of ancient Indian rock art or petroglyphs, including a depiction of the atlatl(at'-lat-l), a notched stick used to throw primitive spears.
ARCH ROCK: Near Atlatl Rock Campground is the more primitive Arch Rock Campground. A two-mile scenic loop road provides views of some of the Valley's most interesting rock formation, such as Arch Rock and Piano Rock.
SEVEN SISTERS: Fascinating red rock formations are easily accessible from the road. Picnic areas provide a relaxing stop during your Valley tour.
Valley of Fire has been selected by the Las Vegas Review-Journal as the Best Place to take out-of-town visitors for 2008.
Location: From Las Vegas take I-15 north to exit 75 take a right at the end of the exit ramp and follow the road heading towards the Valley of Fire State Park. The Park is approximately 18 miles East of I-15
Cost: $6.00 per vehicle