Night Exploration

Panorama of ten beehive shaped masonry charcoal kiln structures at night with yellow light shining through the doorways, the milkyway to the right and the Neowise comet to the left.
The Neowise Comet and Milky Way put on a show over the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns.

© Patrick Taylor

 

Did you know that Death Valley National Park has no closing time and that it is just as spectacular at night as it is during the day? Consider these ideas for ways to experience the park at night:

 
Dark silhouette from behind of a standing man and woman holding hand with a dark sky full of stars and the Milky Way infront of them.
Plan for a humbling experience when observing the night skies over Death Valley National Park.

© Patrick Taylor

Star Gazing

Far from cities and carefully managed to protect darkness, Death Valley National Park is an excellent place to view the night sky. Nights in Death Valley are so dark that the park is classified at the highest (Gold Tier) level by the International Dark-Sky Association; many celestial objects which can be viewed from Death Valley are not visible elsewhere in the world! While most places in the park away from lodging/campgrounds and major roads will provide good night-sky viewing opportunities, the top ranger suggestions for star gazing locations are: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Harmony Borax Works, Badwater Basin and Ubehebe Crater.

Hints for seeing the most stars:

  • Stay out long enough (about 30 minutes) for your eyes to fully adjust
  • Use a red light filter on your flashlight to protect your night vision
  • Visit during a new moon (time when the moon is not visible)
  • Bring binoculars
  • Choose a location without nearby obstructions like mountains
 
The silhouettes of seven people from behind, pointing green lasers at a converging place in a starry night sky. Some hills and mountains are visible in the distance.
Not sure you're comfortable going out at night alone? Ranger programs are a great way to learn about the night sky in a group setting.

© Patrick Taylor

Ranger Programs

Interested in learning more about the night sky? Join a Ranger for an introduction to the cosmos at a famous Death Valley location. Programs are offered during the winter; check at a visitor center for the schedule.

Night Photography

Dark nights mean ample opportunity to photograph the stars. While there is no one “best” location, astrophotographers often choose places such as Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes or Harmony Borax Works to capture their night images. Please note that while you may park along major roadways while photographing, camping along paved roads is prohibited.

 
Silhouette of a man and woman standing on rocks surrounded by small shrubs, pointing at a large full moon.
Visitors marvel at the craters in a bright full moon over Death Valley.

© Patrick Taylor

Full Moon Night Hiking

While we don’t recommend a hike at night in an area with obstacles such as rocks, a casual stroll at a place like Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes or Badwater Basin can be quite rewarding. Visit during a full moon (see NASA's Moon Phases webpage) for the best natural lighting. Make sure to pause to view the stars and to listen for wildlife. Always bring a flashlight and water and remember that nighttime temperatures can still be over 100 F (38 C) during the summer.

Dark Sky Festival

Death Valley National Park holds an annual event each spring, where visitors are invited to come and learn more about space. Topics range widely and have included water discovery on distant worlds, Mars exploration, and the search for extraterrestrial life. The event lasts multiple days and includes special ranger programs, guest speakers from organizations such as NASA, and hands-on activities. Check the park website or ask a ranger at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center for upcoming event dates.

 

Last updated: July 6, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley , CA 92328

Phone:

760 786-3200

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