Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park


Visitors with a calling to enjoy the great outdoors can experience desert grandeur up close in one of Death Valley National Park's many public campgrounds, or in its backcountry. The park has nine public campgrounds that vary in their size, specific amenities and price. Only one campground takes reservations, but the rest operate on a first-come, first-served basis. For more adventurous visitors, Death Valley offers 3.3 million acres of pristine desert wilderness for backcountry camping. If you do stray from the public campgrounds, however, be sure to do so prudently. Plan ahead and consult with a ranger because desert conditions can be harsh (and sometimes unpredictable). 

Backcountry Camping 

At Death Valley National Park, there are more than 3 million acres of wilderness and over 600 miles of back-country dirt roads open to camping. Free permits for backcountry camping may be obtained at the visitor center or any ranger station. Backcountry camping is not permitted within two miles of any developed area, paved road or "day use only" spot. Use pre-existing campsites whenever possible to minimize impact. Due to rough dirt roads at Death Valley, backcountry roadside camping is generally only accessible to visitors with high-clearance or 4-wheel-drive vehicles.

Backcountry Camping Tips & Regulations 

• Backcountry campsites must be more than 200 yards from any water source to protect these fragile areas for wildlife. 

• Campfires are prohibited, except in designated fire pits in developed campgrounds. Gathering wood is unlawful and the burning of wood is not allowed in the backcountry. The use of a low impact backpacking stove is encouraged. 

• Since many springs may be dry or contaminated, plan to carry water or stash it ahead of time. Those who visit during the hot spring, summer and fall months should carry at least one gallon of water per person, per day. Be advised, too, that very low humidity creates extreme dehydration potential during the summer. Do not hike in the low elevations of Death Valley National Park between May and October. 

• Camping is not allowed on the following "day use only" dirt roads: West Side Road, Wildrose Road, Skidoo Road, Aguereberry Point Road, Cottonwood Canyon Road (first eight miles only), Racetrack Road (from Teakettle Junction to Homestake Dry Camp) and Titus Canyon Road.

• Camping is not allowed at the following historic mining areas: Keane Wonder Mine, Lost Burro Mine and Ubehebe Lead Mine.

• Overnight group size is limited to no more than 15 people and no more than six vehicles. Larger groups should plan to split into smaller units and camp at least one mile apart. Contact the Chief Ranger for a Special Use Permit at (760) 786-3200.