We’ll freely admit it: Escape Campervans has a love/hate relationship with Death Valley National Park. It’s the lowest place in the contiguous United States, and the hottest place ever recorded in the world. And as the largest park in the lower 48, Death Valley makes just about every road trippers’ “Must See” list. That said, traveling to this destination during the summer months is brutally debilitating for campervans—or any rental vehicle for that matter. Very few rental agencies will cover you for roadside assistance during this time, Escape Campervans included.
Distance: 119 miles (192 km) from our Las Vegas Escape Depot and 271 miles (436 km) from our Los Angeles Escape Depot
Time: 2+ hours from our Las Vegas Escape Depot and 4.5+ hours from our Los Angeles Escape Depot
Death Valley has two seasons: Summer and Kill-You-Summer. The best time to check out this portion of the Mojave Desert is during the salad days between October and May. These days are warm and sunny, and nights are cool and brisk. This is when most people head into the valley to bike, hike and check out the sights. Between late May and September, it’s simply too hot to enjoy the place. No matter when you go, take lots of water with you–it’s called Death Valley for a reason.
Fill up your gas tank before you head into the valley. It’s a long way between filling stations out there.
You can’t go wrong with any of the campgrounds in Death Valley. Furnace Creek is the only campground located ‘in’ the valley that’s open year around. Sunset, Texas Spring, and Stovepipe campgrounds are legit as well, although they’re only open October through April. You can book these in advance at recreation.gov, however, Furnace Creek is available on a first-come basis during winter months.
Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail
Scotty’s Castle. Hidden in the far north section of Death Valley National Park is the strange, strange place known as Scotty’s Castle. We’ll leave it to the guidebooks to provide the details, but this Depression-era mansion has absolutely no business being there. We can’t figure out if Scotty was a maniac or the smartest guy on the planet. Let us know your opinion once you check it out.
Escape Campervans are allowed to operate in Death Valley; however, you are responsible for all recovery charges if there is a mechanical failure within the Park. In that area, tow truck drivers have a strangle hold on service fees and a recovery can run you up to $1500 (depending on where and when you break down) plus the cost of a new engine.
A large area of the southwest United States is taken up by desert climates, most notably the Mojave Desert. Precautions should be observed during the summer months between May and October as temperatures can and do exceed 115f (46c) daily. These extreme temperatures occasionally lead to vehicle overheating and debilitation. Please follow these simple rules to make your travel itinerary a safe one.