Information on Death Valley points of interest, campgrounds, weather, lodging, and geography can be found on the National Park Service website (www.nps.gov/deva).
Visitors must pay an entrance fee of $20 per vehicle upon entering the park that's good for seven days. However, you can buy an annual pass for $40 that allows you to visit as many times as you wish within 12 months of the purchase date.
The Furnace Creek Visitor Center & Museum is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and this is a good central starting point to gather information when you visit the park. Los Angeles and Las Vegas both make good base cities for those interested in visiting Death Valley. The shortest route from Las Vegas is approximately 120 miles and takes about two hours, while Los Angeles lies approximately 270 miles away and takes about 4.5 hours to reach.
Many people choose to camp at one of Death Valley's numerous campgrounds, which are pleasant but often laid out in parking lot-like formations across flat, sandy areas. You can make reservations online or by phone for the Furnace Creek Campground during the high season from October 15 to April 15 (www.recreation.gov or (877) 444-6777). Other campgrounds are on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you prefer accommodations that are a bit more refined, the Furnace Creek Resort (furnacecreekresort.com) offers in-park lodging complete with an 18-hole golf course, bar, several restaurants, stores, swimming pools, and children's playground. There are two lodging possibilities at the resort – the Inn at Furnace Creek (open October to May) and the Ranch at Furnace Creek (open all year). For the Inn, rates range from $330 to $460 per night, while the Ranch offers lower prices ($130 to $213 per night).
Getting around Death Valley is relatively easy and straightforward, since most roads are maintained and well marked. It is important not to speed, however, because the roads tend to have sudden curves and narrow passages. Some roads require four-wheel drive vehicles with high clearance to access rugged backcountry areas. Take note: Cell phones tend not to work within the park.