Guide to Camping in Death Valley National Park

Guide to Camping in Death Valley National Park

Camping in Death Valley National Park is an amazing experience. Camping presents an opportunity to truly experience this park’s beautiful and otherworldly terrain. But, camping in Death Valley also requires a significant amount of preparation.

Unless you’re camping in the park in winter, you’ll face extreme heat that reaches highs well into the 100s. With that in mind, it’s important to choose the right campground to visit at the right time.

Lower elevation campgrounds around Furnace Creek are unbearably hot in the summertime and make much better winter camping options. The park’s higher elevation campgrounds can see snow in the winter but are comfortable in the warmer months.

In this article, we’ll review the top campgrounds in Death Valley National Park, so you can plan your adventure in this amazing park.

Read More :

Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

Furnace Creek Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $16 per night; $36 per night (electric)
  • Reservation : Yes

This campground, located in the heart of Death Valley National Park, is the only reservable campground in the park. Reservations can be made for the period between October 15 and April 15. It allows you to camp in the lowest area in North America.

There is little in the way of vegetation in the basin, so few campsites offer coverage from the sun. Amazing views of mountains from the east and west create a beautiful backdrop for this campground.

This campground is very popular, so if you want to stay here, you’ll have to make reservations very early. Furnace Creek features 136 campsites with drinking water, flush toilets, picnic tables, and a dump station for RVs. Each fire includes a campfire ring or a grill. There are 18 full-hookup sites.

Furnace Creek RV Resort

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $16 per night; $36 per night (electric)
  • Reservation : Yes

If you have a large RV and need full utility hookups, Furnace Creek RV resort is for you. This campground is located at The Ranch in Furnace Creek. It features 26 RV sites with full utility and sewer hookups, allowing you to keep that AC going in this ultra-hot part of the park. This campground also features many other nice amenities, including complimentary wireless Internet, and access to the Ranch’s spring-fed swimming pool shower facility, coin-operated laundry, and a whole host of sports courts. Several restaurants and the Furnace Creek golf course are also nearby.

The sites are in close proximity; however, each site is separated by trees on both sides with a 6-foot high wooden fence at the back, which adds privacy.

Texas Spring Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : October 15 to May 1
  • Cost : $16 per night
  • Reservation : No

If you want a quiet camping experience with the background of Death Valley National Park, then check out Texas Spring Campground. Located about a mile from Furnace Creek, you’re just minutes away from the campground visitor’s center. Attractions such as Golden Canyon, Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, and the Devils Golf Course are all nearby.

This campground features 92 individual sites, all of which are first-come-first-serve. This campground also has plenty of trees and shrubs to provide much-appreciated shade. Amenities include restrooms with flush toilets and potable water stations. Campsites include picnic tables and fire pits. There is also a dump station on site.

Due to the intense heat in this area during the summer months, Texas Spring is only open from October 15 to May 1.

Sunset Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : October 15 to May 1
  • Cost : $14 per night
  • Reservation : No

Sunset Campground isn’t the most attractive campground at the park. In fact, it’s pretty much just a gravel parking lot that can be used for camping. Campsites are separated by white chalk lines in rows and numbers.

As such, this campground is completely exposed with no shade coverage. For this reason, it’s only suitable for RVs, though it is possible to set up a tent here. Just keep in mind that you’ll need a thick sleeping pad to be comfortable.

That said, this campground is quite cheap and does still feature the background of Death Valley’s mountains. It’s also just a mile from Furnace Creek Visitor Center and many attractions including Artists Drive, Badwater Basin, Golden Canyon, and the Devil’s Golf Course.

It does feature Flush toilets and potable water. Sunset Campground features 270 sites and is open from October 15 to May 1.

Fiddler’s Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $24 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

If you’re looking for a campground that offers extra amenities, then check out Fiddler’s Campground, which is run by the same management as Furnace Creek Resort. Each campsite here comes with access to showers, laundry facilities, Wi-Fi, and a swimming pool.

You also get access to The Ranch at Furnace Creek, which features a general store, restaurants, and a post office. The campground is also in a great location adjacent to the park’s visitor’s center.

Just don’t expect a whole lot of privacy, as Fiddler‘s is essentially a parking lot converted into a campground. Campsites are in close proximity to each other with no cover for privacy or protection from the sun. The sites do not have picnic tables or grills; however, there are community fire pits and picnic areas. These sites do not have utility or sewer hookups.

Emigrant Campground

  • Type : Tent
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : Free
  • Reservation : No

While Emigrant Campground, which is a barebone tent-only free campground, does not look like much at first, it has some definite advantages. The campground is near the edge of the park, making it a great option for those arriving at the park after a long drive. It also offers excellent views of Death Valley’s terrain. And, at 2,100 feet, it isn’t as hot as the park’s lower elevations, making for more comfortable camping.

The campground features ten campsites just off of Highway 190. The campsites are organized in rows, separated by lines of large rocks and boulders. Despite being free, it offers some nice amenities.

There are no fire pits or picnic tables; however, there are potable water and flush toilets. Each campsite also offers a large picnic table. Emigrant is an excellent option for tent campers on a budget.

Thorndike Campground

  • Type : RV / Tent
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : $24 per night
  • Reservation : Yes

Thorndike is an excellent campground in the park’s high country if you have the ability to reach it. This campground isn’t for everyone. It requires high clearance vehicles with four-wheel drive to access its six sites.

Thorndike is in a forest of junipers and pinyon pines, which provide coverage and privacy. For those who can get here, this campground offers amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Thorndike is in close proximity to Charcoal Kilns.

Thorndike offers ten first-come-first-serve sites and is located at 7,400 feet, making it an excellent option for summer camping at Death Valley as highs generally stay in the 70s in mid-summer. Just keep in mind it gets cool at night, so sleeping bags and cool weather jackets are recommended. Each site includes picnic tables and fire pits. On-site amenities include pit toilets.

Mahogany Campground

  • Type : Tent
  • Open : Late spring to early fall
  • Cost : Free
  • Reservation : No

For those looking to experience the high mountains in Death Valley National Park, there’s Mahogany Flat Campground. Located at the end of the highest road in the park, this camp offers amazing scenery. And, with its elevation at nearly 9,000 feet, it’s a great option for camping in the park in the warmer months, while offering amazing upper elevation views of the park.

Cold weather gear is a must at this elevation, so make sure to pack extra blankets and sleeping bags for this campground. This campground is also an excellent option for hikers coming up the Telescope Peak Trail from the campground entrance.

Each site includes a picnic table and a fire pit. Amenities include a pit toilet and trash cans. There is no potable water available at this site. In order to reach this campground by car, you need to traverse a steep and rocky dirt road, which requires vehicles with high clearance.

This park is closed during the winter with the arrival of snow.

Stovepipe Wells Campground

  • Type : Tent
  • Open : September 15 to early May
  • Cost : $12
  • Reservation : No

The Stovepipe Well campground is big on convenience but not particularly picturesque or private. Stovepipe is near located behind a general store and gas station, which adds convenience. Other nearby amenities include a restaurant, gift shop, and lounge. It’s also in close proximity to many of the park’s top attractions, including Mesquite Flat Dunes, Salt Creek, Harmony Borax Works, among others.

The campsites are all set in a large gravel parking lot with white lines separating each campsite. There is no tree cover or foliage at the campground, making each site fully expose and not particularly private. While the sites will support tents, this a campground more conducive to RVs.

If you do bring a tent, sleeping pads or an inflatable mattress are a good idea. The restrooms feature flush toilets and there is potable water on site. This campground is open from September 15 through early May.

Wildrose Campground

  • Type : Tent
  • Open : Year-round
  • Cost : Free
  • Reservation : No

Wildrose, nestled among the mountains in the western part of the park, offers a cooler place to camp at a higher elevation. It sits at 4,400 feet, giving it cooler temperatures than the blistering heat experienced at locations in and around Furnace Creek.

This campground is accessible via Emigrant Canyon Road off of Highway 190. It features amazing desert vistas from just a short hike from the campground. The Wildrose kilns are just a short drive down the road from the campground.

With just 23 sites, this campground is quiet and peaceful. Don’t expect to find much cover here, with sagebrush being the only vegetation around the campground. Amenities include 23 pit toilets, potable water, and fire rings and picnic tables at each site.

This campground is free and available on a first-come-first service.

Mesquite Spring Campground

  • Type : Tent and RV
  • Open : October 15 to April 15
  • Cost : $14
  • Reservation : No

Mesquite Campground, located in the northern part of the park, has much to offer. It’s near Grapevine Ranger Station and also just a short drive from several attractions, including Ubehebe Crater, Scotty’s Castle, and the access road that leads to Racetrack Playa.

This campground also sits at 1,800 feet above sea level, making it significantly cooler than the Furnace Creek camp area in Badwater Basin. You can also expect to have an easier time getting a site at this more remote campground, which is about an hour and a fifteen-minute drive from Furnace Creek.

This campsite has 30 sites for both tents and RVs 35 feet and under. Amenities include potable water, grills, picnic tables, flushing toilets, and a dump station.

Campsites are available on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Camping Tips for Death Valley National Park

  1. Plan for the heat. The heat needs to be one if not the primary concern for anyone wanting to camp in Death Valley National Park. If camping near Furnace Creek on the basin floor, plan on camping here in the winter or bring an RV and camp in a place with full utility hook-ups that will allow you to run your AC. Temperatures from the spring to the fall can easily reach triple digits.
  2. Sleep off the ground. Death Valley features desert terrain. As such, there are all manner of snakes, scorpions, and lizards roaming the area at night. With that in mind, either sleep elevated from the ground in a hammock or make sure you keep that tent zipped at night to avoid any unwanted visitors.
  3. Consider a backcountry permit. If you’re frustrated with crowded campgrounds and don’t mind roughing it, consider getting a backcountry permit, which allows you to camp just off the road at last 100 yards away from a water source. Just remember to bring plenty of water in water bottles and larger containers.
  4. Land a free campsite. Several campgrounds in Death Valley National Park are free, including Wildrose, Thorndike, Mahogany Flat, and Emigrant. Although some of these campgrounds may be off the beaten path, they are on a first-come-first-serve and require no fee. Get there early to claim your free spot.
  5. Book early. The campgrounds in Death Valley fill up quickly through much of the year, so book early unless you plan on trying to score a site at one of the first come first only campgrounds. Furnace Creek is the only campground that takes reservations, making it difficult to land one. Reservations at this campground can be made up to six months in advance.
  6. Camp on higher ground. If you’re dead set on camping at the park between May and October, consider camping at one of the higher elevation campgrounds in the park. They offer much more comfortable temperatures than the blistering heat found at Furnace Creek. Campgrounds at higher elevations include Emigrant, Wildrose, Thorndike, and Mahogany Flat.

Andrew Dodson

Andrew Dodson is an avid camper who enjoys the great outdoors with his wife and two-year-old son. He resides in Colorado, where you can often find him enjoying hikes with a toddler strapped to his back and mini goldendoodle Percy nearby.