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Death Valley National Park

Zabriskie Point

Want to stand below sea level (without a snorkel), roll down powdery white sand dunes, hike into a volcanic crater, search for the tiny pupfish in sparkling salty water or play in the sand for hours? Death Valley National Park is a natural sandbox for kids, with millions of acres of desert and rocks to explore. And what an amazing landscape – where else can children find mountains like gallons of fudge and vanilla ice cream melting in the sun?

Death Valley is a big area – in planning your family trip, allow time to travel from one part of the valley to the other without rushing.

Death Valley National Park Photo Album
    Furnace Creek
   

Death Valley - South

    Around Stovepipe Wells
   

Death Valley - North

   

Death Valley - West

Stargazing – Go outside at night and look at the stars. Check at the visitor center for ranger programs and pick up a copy of the night sky map, or here's our favorite Night Sky app. There's no big city lights, and the desert night sky, filled with stars, is timeless and endless.
  Tips for enjoying Death Valley
Don't go in summer – Temperatures in summer average over 110 degrees. You can drive around the valley in your air conditioned car, but to really enjoy Death Valley, you need to get out and walk around. December - April is a good time to go – the weather is clear and the days are warm but not too hot (it does get cold at night in winter).

Water – Death Valley is one of the driest places on the planet and it's very easy to get dehydrated in this dry, dry climate. Bring lots of water bottles and keep drinking water throughout the day. Even on a short hike, don't leave without plenty of water!

Sunscreen, lip balm and hand lotion – Even in winter, clear days make it easy to get sunburned – slather on the sunscreen. To prevent chapped lips and hands, bring lip balm and hand lotion.
What to wear – Bring good shoes for hiking in the gravely areas, or certainly on the Devil's Golf Course (hiking in sandals can lead to stubbed toes and annoying cuts). In winter, it can be windy and chill, so bring windbreakers, gloves and hats.
Wildlife As you look out over the desert, it might seem that nothing can live in the heat and dryness of Death Valley, but there are plenty of animals. Along with the cute road runners or chuckwallas (lizards), there's also well-adapted rattlesnakes and scorpions, which you want to avoid. If you're climbing on rocks, tell your kids to watch where you put your hands (you don't want to accidentally "pet" a rattlesnake). At Scotty's Castle, a couple of enterprising coyotes come out to beg for food as cars drive by. Don't feed the coyotes.

Flash floods – Death Valley gets precious little rain, but when it does rain, it can rain hard. If it looks like rain, don't hike in riverbeds or narrow canyons – these can become a torrent in no time at all. Also, don't attempt to drive through flooded road conditions.

kids books death valley california
     
Death Valley: A Day in the Desert childrens books  
Death Valley: A Day in the Desert
Nancy Smiler Levinson, Diane Dawson Hearn

Find out about the plants and animals of Death Valley – great horned owls, roadrunners, desert tortoises, kangaroo rats, wild burros, kit foxes, free-tailed bats, barrel cactus, Mojave yucca. (Easy reader, illustrations)

 

     

Not a kid's book per se, gorgeous photographs capture the beauty of rocks and sand, badlands and salt pans, plus background about the geology, plants and animals, miners and peoples of Death Valley. (Illustrated chapter book)

 

 
Death Valley: The Story Behind the Scenery
     
Best Easy Day Hikes Death Valley guidebook  
Best Easy Day Hikes Death Valley
Bill Cunningham, Polly Burke

Guide to 18 different hikes in Death Valley, ideal for families (most are less than 4 miles round trip). Map, detailed hike descriptions, trail difficulty, and what you'll see along the way. (Guidebook)

 

(More children's books on other California pages)
travel for kids | united states | california | deserts | death valley nat'l park
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