Death Valley and Black Rock Desert

Remoteness at its best

  • United States - California and Nevada
  • Duration: 12 days
  • Self-drive (guided or not)
  • Own vehicle or rental
  • Best season: February to May and October to November
  • Option to add a Dark Skies Photo Safari Workshop with a professional photographer

Areas of Interest

Stark in appearance and haunting in name, Death Valley is a very-much-alive desert set between high, snow-capped mountains. The name doesn’t do justice to the vibrancy of Death Valley—the mysteries of the life sustained in this arid and isolated landscape capture the attention of adventurers.

The Black Rock Desert is a large desert playa and the remains of prehistoric Lake Lahontan. At 314,835 acres, the area is one of the largest protected desert playas in the United States. Vistas go on for miles and mirages sneak up from all sides of the desert floor. The vastness and overwhelming feeling of isolation in this wilderness create an experience unlike any other.

Beginning in the 1990s the desert also served as the site of an annual event called Burning Man, a music and performance art festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors to a region that sees few people at other times of the year.


    • Overview of your holiday

From Las Vegas, you will either pick up your rental vehicle, or drive your own, and start with an exciting exploration of America’s lowest, hottest, and driest national park: Death Valley. We will then drive north and we will take you to visit the Black Rock Desert and experience the true vastness of the open desert. Our itinerary concludes in San Francisco, where you will have the chance to visit this fantastic city, and finally drop off your vehicle, or choose a trip extension.

    • Your adventure in brief

From Las Vegas, we will start driving towards Death Valley and enter from the southeast or eastern entrance. We’ll spend four days exploring and taking in the sights of Death Valley’s hidden treasures. Hike to the top of 700′ dunes, dip in luxurious desert hot springs and walk in a desert playa with mysterious “racing” rocks. On the fifth day, we will leave Death Valley and we will drive up to the Black Rock Desert. We’ll spend five days exploring and taking in the sights of the desert. You’ll enjoy hikes, dips in desert hot springs, tracing the steps of the pioneers, and immersing yourself in one of the vast and open high deserts of the West. We will then leave the desert and drive to San Francisco.

    • Adventure-style and vehicle options

We strongly recommend our guided 4×4 service, which includes professional 4×4 guidance, morning coffee, portable showers, camp toilet, a possible rooftop tent (at extra cost), and an evening fire. You will need to bring a sleeping bag (0 to 20-degree rating), pillow, toiletries, camp clothes, a warm jacket for the evenings, sturdy shoes for hiking, a headlamp, and a right community attitude. You will need to bring food and drinks, and be ready to cook for yourself and your friends or family. You can drive your 4×4 with 8 inches of minimum ground clearance from the lowest point under the vehicle, a low-range transfer case, and a minimum of 31 inches “All Terrain” or “Mud Terrain” tires are required. Should you use your own vehicle, you will have to bring a tent and all the camping gear you need for the adventure. We can rent a fully equipped car with rooftop tents and everything you need for an overland adventure.

Photo credit: Yuval Levy, Roan Lavery, and v-adventures