Self Guided Field Trips

Two students look at an animal tracking field guide.
Students can investigate habitats, such as sand dunes, to discover adaptations of desert animals.

Kurt Moses

Planning a class trip to Death Valley National Park can be fun and exciting. We suggest visiting the park prior to the class trip to get a better understanding of this wonderful outdoor classroom. Current conditions are updated on our website and include road closures and weather advisories. Digital versions of maps can also help with the planning process. A hard copy map can be obtained at a visitor center.

Optimal weather for field trips is from early November to late March. Check out the weather page for information on average high temperatures by month.

On this page, you will find resources to help you plan a field trip to Death Valley National Park, including:


Academic Fee Waiver

Education groups must apply for an academic fee waiver at least one month prior to the field trip in order for the entrance fee to be waived. In addition to other requirements, applicants must provide an itinerary stating the date of arrival, areas to be visited each day the applicant is in the park, and the date of departure. Fee waivers are for educational use and are restricted to observation only. Any ground disturbance requires a research permit and proper NEPA and Section 106 Tribal and Historic Preservation Office consultation.

Groups arriving without an approved fee waiver will be charged an entrance fee. More information about the academic fee waiver, as well as the application, can be found at the Academic Fee Waiver page.


Exploring with Your Students

Below are some suggested locations to visit with your students. Visit our Teaching Resources page for examples of activities, including comparing habitats, studying elevation, and evaluating the influence of mining on Death Valley. If you have ideas for self-guided field trip materials, please share them with us.

Click on each location below for more information, including hiking length, nearest restrooms, and parking lot condition.


Places to Visit in a School Bus

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    Other Options for Smaller Vehicles

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      Student and Park Safety Guidelines

      Review these guidelines with students, staff, and chaperones before the field trip. Some of these guidelines are based off of Leave No Trace principles .To integrate it into classroom learning, students could create a poster to promote one of these guidelines to their peers.

      Plan Ahead and Prepare

      Teachers, students, and chaperones should be prepared for their field trip. Consider bringing extra water bottles, sunglasses, hats, and sunscreen. Consider asking chaperones to bring items they no longer use to loan out to students that forget to bring their own.

      All participants (including the bus driver) should bring:

      • A comfortable backpack or bag that allows your hands to be free

      • Water bottle (or two)

      • Closed toed sturdy shoe (no sandals)

      • Sunscreen

      • Chapstick with sunscreen

      • Hat with brim

      • Sunglasses

      • Long sleeve shirt or jacket (for sun cover and/or warm layer)

      • Lunch and trail snacks

      Since many of the bathroom facilities are pit toilets with no running water, groups may also want to bring extra hand sanitizer for bathroom breaks and before eating lunch.

      Group Safety

      At minimum, groups should have 1 chaperone for every 10 students. Some visitor areas can become very crowded. It is easier for students and leaders if groups are divided into smaller groups of 15 or less people when walking the trails. Leaders should set expectations with students to stay with their smaller group at all times and respect one another by not running, pushing, or yelling.

      Respect Wildlife

      Approaching, throwing objects, and feeding wildlife is both dangerous to the wildlife and the students. Loud noises can also disturb wildlife.

      Leave What You Find

      Please leave all plants, rocks, or other natural and historical objects in the park. Groups that are conducting research, such as collecting samples, need to apply for and get approval for a research permit and proper NEPA and Section 106 Tribal and Historic Preservation Office consultation before doing so.

      Be Considerate of Other Visitors

      Loud noises and other disruptive behavior on the trails can spoil the experience for other visitors. Please turn off the engine of the bus or other large vehicle when parked.

      Have fun and enjoy Death Valley National Park's outdoor classroom! If you have any questions while planning your self-guided field trip, please contact the education staff.


      Last updated: February 16, 2023

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      Contact Info

      Mailing Address:

      P.O. Box 579
      Death Valley, CA 92328


      760 786-3200

      Contact Us