Unique Things to do on a Death Valley Road Trip

“Water, water, water….There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount..”

-Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire

The perfect transition from one surreal city to another ~ a vast desert full of mysteries. When heading back to Los Angeles from a tradeshow in Las Vegas we took the long way around through breathtaking Death Valley. From classic hotels to otherworldly hikes, there is so much to experience in this iconic area. We went off the beaten track on this trip, and sure were glad we did. Here are the most unique things we found to do in Death Valley during our road tip.

First stop:

Death Valley - Badwater Basin
A unique salt flat andscape “Badwater basin” at Death Valley National Park in the evening

Badwater Basin

The lowest point in the United States.

It was HOT that day, but we walked out into the basin on a short trail clearly marked for travelers.

Stock up on Snacks and Water

Speaking of the heat, it’s crucial to stay hydrated and nourished while driving through the hot desert. We stopped in at the Furnace Creek Resort General Store for provisions.


Death Valley, Villa Anita


Many years ago, my road trip partner had ventured out into the Death Valley desert alone. There, in the most desolate of places, he came upon an artist named Carlo. Carlo invited him to stay the night, and my friend found himself thrown into a Fellini-esque world of wine and whimsy for the evening.

We went to visit Carlo, who has now opened his home for all to share in his world of art and stories. If you stay at Villa Anita on Airbnb, you’ll be welcomed like an old friend, share in food and laughter, end the evening with a warm bath and wake in the morning to rainbows of light peeking through your glass bottle bedroom. Must love dogs.

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If you prefer a more traditional hotel experience, there are some fantastic options in the national park, such as the classic Inn at Death Valley.


You can also book a tour of Villa Anita to explore their labyrinth of sculptures and paintings. Before you know it you’ll be helping them lift a dangerously large object onto their roof using ropes, while fending off the affections of many sizes of dog.

(If you get along nicely, they may just give you directions to a secret hot springs nearby).

Art Death Valley


A California desert excursion isn’t complete without a date shake.China Ranch Date Farm & Bakery is a family-owned farm full of history. Hike to abandoned mines and enjoy fresh baked date nut bread in a hidden creekside oasis of cottonwood trees.

Hike Death Valley

Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit” -Edward Abbey

What is the best road trip you’ve been on? Let me know in the comments below!


Book: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey
Desert Solitaire
by Edward Abbey


death valley pin

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