- Southeastern California near the Nevada border and through Death Valley National Park
- 81.5 miles (131 km)
- Two hours to drive or 3.5 hours to enjoy the entire Byway.
- Drivable year round, best seen during winter and spring
- There is an entrance fee to the national park.
Death Valley Scenic Byway is an otherworldly experience; from barren salt flats, colored dunes of sodium chloride, and iron-red mountainsides, this historic and scenic drive is as intriguing as it is ghostly and still.
Death Valley Scenic Byway starts at the eastern entrance of Death Valley National Park, roughly 13 miles west of Death Valley Junction on HWY 190. The Byway continues on HWY 190 to the western boundary of Death Valley National Park, marking the end of the Byway.
The rugged beauty of Death Valley remains in stasis, the wind along with passing travelers being the only perceivable motion. Dante's View is the best place to take in the scene, a strange mixture of simultaneous sensory deprivation and overload. Another site worth a stop is Badwater, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. The salt flats near here form erratic white geometric shapes outlined by dark cracks.
Points of Interest Along The Way
Artist's Drive (CA)
Artist Drive is one of the most fantastic drives through California- Artist Pallette. See for yourself why visitors and geologists alike are fascinated by this natural wonder. With limestone, hematite, and other chemically altered volcanic ash in hues of pink, lavender, blue, red and green, you'll be astounded by the close-up view of this "painted" desert.
Artist Drive is the best way to get great photographs of Artist Palette. See how the colors blend together to look eerily natural in the normally neutral landscape.
Artist`s Drive is off the the Badwater Highway. Follow the signs along this one-way canyon.
Become intrigued and awed over the expansive desolation of Badwater. Look up to the Black Mountains nearby; 250 feet above you is a simple white sign with the words "Sea Level." Death Valley is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, and Badwater is the lowest point in the Death Valley area.
Take a walk along the trails through Badwater, literally named for the taste of its water, and try to imagine what it was like a century and a half ago when miners in search of gold trekked through the expansive desert in the scorching temperatures without roads, signs, maps, or a steady supply of water.
Badwater is located 17 miles south of the Furnace Creek Inn.
Dante's View (CA)
Aptly named, from this viewpoint, you can see the very lowest point of Death Valley all the way up to the highest - a difference of 11,329 feet.
Dante`s View is just south of Zabriskie Point along Highway 190 and then take the road from the parking lot up to the lookout.
In the 1870s, Darwin was a thriving mining town. It served as a supply center for the many mines nearby. Then, a major mineral find in 1874 caused a sudden growth spurt in the town. The town reached its peak in 1877, hosting around 200 people. Later, as mining moved elsewhere, the town began to decline.
Darwin is notable today as a nearly deserted mining town. The traveler can view old mines and old miner cabins. The town's old schoolhouse and other significant municipal buildings still stand. The Darwin cemetery is a fascinating sight.
Off of Highway 190
Darwin Falls (CA)
Darwin Falls is a welcome site in the Death Valley region.Generally dry and desolate, the Falls consists to two 30-foot waterfalls that flow year round. The area around them is unusually lush and green at all times of year, and surrounded by species of birds who welcome a cool drink in the Death Valley heat.
The entrance to the gravel road leading to the trailhead to Darwin Falls is approximately 16 miles west of Towne Pass.
Death Valley (CA)
Stop by Furnace Creek, the main visitor's service area in the park and home to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, for great information about nearby visitor services and about the remainder of the park.
The visitor center in Furnace Creek marks the beginning of the Death Valley Scenic Byway. Start here to get the story and context of the amazing sites you are about to encounter on this unique drive through the Death Valley Area. Discuss your travels with a ranger, tour the museum of geology and history, and plan your itinerary.
Check out the visitor center bookstore to pick up some books about the history of the area or perhaps a map to plan your drive.
The Death Valley Museum and Visitor Center is located just north of Furnace Creek Ranch on Highway 190.
Death Valley National Park comprises more than 3.3 million acres of spectacular desert scenery, rare desert wildlife, complex geology, undisturbed wilderness and sites of historical interest. Death Valley is unique because it contains the lowest, hottest, driest location in North America. Nearly 550 square miles of its area lie below sea level. Ecologically, its plants and animals are representative of the Mojave Desert.
Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth, attaining the second-highest temperature ever recorded, 134 degrees F. in 1913. It contains the lowest point in the western hemisphere -- 282 feet below sea level near Badwater -- as well as numerous high-rising mountain peaks, including Telescope Peak at over 11,000 feet. Death Valley was named by gold-seekers, some of whom died crossing the valley during the 1849 California gold rush.
Death Valley National Park is located in the desert of eastern California. The byway is within the Park.
Devil's Cornfield (CA)
Right along the Byway, see these unusual plants called arroweed that thrive on very salty water.
The turnoff at Devil`s Cornfield is right on the byway near the sand dunes, a sign marks where to park.
Devil's Golf Course (CA)
Of the erratic shapes, bumps and craters a guidebook once said of this region "only the devil could play golf on such a surface." See for yourself this landscape of pure dirt-stained sodium chloride made up of spiky terrain and calcite pits to get a true feel of the desolation and eerie emptiness of this dried-up lake region.
Devil`s Golf Course is on the Badwater Highway--follow the signs to the dirt road that takes you out to the golf course.