Death Valley National Park
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Essential stops at Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park
About 300 miles northeast of Los Angeles, vast Death Valley National Park is a place of extremes: hottest, driest, lowest. Families might enjoy visiting a few of the ghost towns throughout the park, seeing the unparalleled springtime wildflowers, exploring the otherworldly sand dunes or spotting desert coyotes. (Spencer Weiner/ Los Angeles Times)
Death Valley National Park
Visitors cross Stovepipe Wells sand dunes in California’s Death Valley, where fees have doubled. (Beatrice de Gea/ Los Angeles Times)
Badwater Basin
Start at Furnace Creek Interpretive Center to get information about what to see, or listen in as rangers give educational lectures. The museum here recalls the valley’s borax-mining days and explains how Death Valley won the temporary title of the hottest place on Earth. Other don’t-misses include Badwater Basin, which is, at 282 feet below sea level, the Western Hemisphere’s lowest point, and sunrise over Zabriskie Point. (Alan Hagman/ Los Angeles Times)
Scotty’s Castle Death Valley National Park
Sign up for period-clad rangers lead tours of Scotty’s Castle, a 1920s retreat built around an oasis by a Chicago millionaire. This ranch villa with a hefty dollop of whimsy is named for Walter Scott, a.k.a. Death Valley Scotty. Tour reservations required. (Bob Carey/ Los Angeles Times)