Death Valley National Park328 Greenland Blvd., Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park encompasses mountain-size sand dunes, below-sea-level salt flats, and colorful wildflowers and sandstone canyons. The park is the hottest and driest place in America, with summer temperatures peaking above 120 degrees, and average rainfall of two inches per year. Also extreme are the park’s elevations: Badwater Basin, the park’s lowest spot, rests at 282 feet below sea level while Telescope Peak soars to 11,049 feet.
You don’t want to miss Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, when early morning light accents the dunes’ many contours and ripples. Another must-see stop is Zabriskie Point and Golden Canyon, where every imaginable shade of gold is visible in the wrinkled cliffs, whose layers glow at sunrise and sunset. Pick your favorite perspective: Drive to Zabriskie Point and survey the scene from on high, or see the vibrant beauty up close by hiking in Golden Canyon.
Insider tip: Spring season is the best time to spot rare wildflowers in the park.