Death Valley: Badwater Basin, Natural Arch, Mesquite Sand Dunes


For those wondering, a weekend trip to Death Valley is most definitely doable. It may be one of the largest National Parks in the US, but you will be able to see most of the park’s popular spots within 2 days. Here is what our itinerary looked like:


We drove to Death Valley from Los Angeles after work hours, around 7pm. Made a quick stop in Trona Pinnacles, located near Ridgecrest which was on the way. This place has very interesting rock formations, and I highly suggest that you stop by here if you ever pass by Ridgecrest.

Thankfully the moon was out when we went. We still got to appreciate the view of the huge rocks, even if it was late at night. We made the most out of this quick trip by playing with long exposure photography, painting with light, and you can check it out in my Trona Pinnacles post.

trona pinnacles night photographyWe arrived at Furnace Creek Campground past midnight, set up our tent, and went to bed so we could get an early start the next day.


Our first stop for the day was Badwater Basin. This was the perfect starting point because it was all the way in the south of Death Valley, and we could easily check out the other places as we made our way back to the campsite.

Badwater Basin is where you will find the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. It is an entire basin, about 200 square miles, of just salt flats.

badwater basin salt badwater basin badwater basin death valleyNext, we went for a short hike to see the Natural Bridge. in this 2 mile out-and-back trail, you will get to see more than just the 50-foot natural arch. We enjoyed seeing the dried up waterfalls, the huge fallen boulder, and we got to climb and scramble over rocks to reach the end. If you look closely at the canyon’s walls here, you will notice that it looks like melted candle wax, which is the cause of water evaporating and leaving minerals here that dry up and look like drippings.

natural arch trail death valley natural arch fallen rock death valley dry water falls cairn death valleyAfter our hike, we went for a drive along Artist’s Drive, which is a 9-mile scenic route where you’ll see multi-colored hills and rock formations. This is also where you will find Artist’s Palette, which is a hill covered in patches of pink, purple, green, brown, and black hues making it seem like a palette of different colors.

artists driveWe headed back to our campsite afterwards, for lunch and some time to relax & rest. At around 4pm we made our way to the Mesquite Sand Dunes, and planned to explore and stay here until sunset. I kind of wish we had allotted more time for the sand dunes. I underestimated how hard it would be to climb up the sandy terrain.

The view of the sunset in Mesquite Sand Dunes was really nice. The orange sun set a warm tone, and the view of it with the dunes was spectacular. I couldn’t believe I was in California.

death valley mesquite sand dunes death valley mesquite sand dunes sand dunes footprints

We waited for the sunlight to fade, and when it was pitch black, we laid comfortably on our backs and viewed the stars.


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