Death Valley Adventure
Take leisurely hikes from 1-2 miles through ancient canyons and along magnificent sand dunes. Retrace the valley’s birth millions of years ago and discover how flora and fauna have adapted to this most magnificent and extreme environment.
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California’s Death Valley abounds in contrasts and extremes and never ceases to provide beauty in unlikely forms. During this unique natural history tour, trace Death Valley’s geological formation over millions of years and study its unique flora and fauna, which has adapted to an extreme environment. During leisurely hikes accompanied by a Smithsonian Journeys expert, explore the valley’s natural diversity of dramatically eroded ancient canyons, magnificent sand dunes, salt flats, and badlands. View the orange, yellow, and gold layers of ancient sandstone in the spectacular Golden Canyon and witness the massive Ubehebe Crater, site of a massive volcanic explosion. Take in a breathtaking sunrise at Zabriskie Point, and after watching the sunlight illuminate the Badlands and Manly Beacon, travel to Dante’s View for a stunning panoramic view of Telescope Peak, which rises over 11,000 feet above the valley floor.
You’ll also explore Badwater salt flat, which at 282 feet below sea level makes it the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere and the sixth lowest place on Earth. Tour Scotty’s Castle, built by Walter Scott, the colorful character known as “Death Valley Scotty.” Accommodations are at the luxurious Furnace Creek Inn, where you can relax near the spring-fed pool, stroll the magnificent palm shaded gardens, and take in the breathtaking desert views.
March 13 — Las Vegas
Individual arrivals and check-in to the Double Tree Las Vegas. Gather with fellow travelers and your Smithsonian Journeys Expert this evening for opening remarks to prepare you for your adventure followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant. D
March 14 — Depart Las Vegas, Mosaic Canyon, Desert Sand Dunes
After breakfast at the hotel you’ll depart by van for Death Valley National Park. Discover the mysterious town of Rhyolite, then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant This afternoon visit Mosaic Canyon where you’ll witness the colorful rock stratifications marking millions of years of geological history (2 miles). Then have a chance to visit the Death Valley sand dunes. Check-in to the Furnace Creek Resort late this afternoon. This evening gather for a presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by a festive dinner at the hotel. B, L, D
March 15 — Badwater, Devil’s Golf Course, Hiking Golden Canyon
Enjoy breakfast at the hotel then you’ll depart for Badwater salt flat. At 282 feet below sea level, it’s the lowest place in the Western Hemisphere and one of the lowest places on Earth! After stopping to see the rugged salt formations of Devil’s Golf Course, you’ll enjoy lunch at Furnace Creek. Afterwards, you’ll be free to explore the park’s visitor center and museum before hiking through the multi-hued walls of Golden Canyon (2 miles) beautifully lit by the long rays of the afternoon sun. Enjoy time to relax followed by a group dinner at a nearby restaurant this evening. B,L,D
March 16 — Scotty’s Castle, Ubehebe Crater, Titus Canyon
After breakfast depart for the famed “castle” named for the charismatic “Death Valley Scotty,” Enjoy a docent-guided living history tour explaining the unusual past of this ornate Spanish-style mansion. After lunch, depart for the massive Ubehebe Crater, site of a massive volcanic explosion leaving a pit in the earth over 500 feet deep and a half a mile across (walk 2 miles). This afternoon after a stop at the Titus Canyon narrows, return to the hotel to relax. Enjoy a presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by a group dinner at the hotel. B, L, D
March 17 — Harmony Borax Works, Dante’s View
After breakfast, learn about Death Valley’s mining history at the Harmony Borax Works then depart for Dante’s View located at 5,475 feet, where a stunning panoramic view of all 11,049 feet of Telescope Peak rising above the valley floor awaits you. After soaking in the scenery, you’ll head back toward Furnace Creek for lunch.. Later you’ll hear about the pupfish, endemic to Death Valley and uniquely adapted to survive in the desert’s harsh environment. You’ll see their natural habitat at Salt Creek. Then journey to see the pastel-colored mineral deposits at Artist’s Palette as its many hues glow richly in the warm afternoon sunlight. Enjoy a final presentation by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by your farewell dinner at the hotel. B, L, D
March 18 — Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Return to Las Vegas/ Home
After breakfast depart the hotel for Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, the largest remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert and a biodiversity hot spot and a haven for rare plants and animals. Visit mysterious Devils Hole, over 500 feet deep and the bottom has never been found. After a picnic lunch return to Las Vegas. Arrive at McCarran International Airport by 4:00 p.m. Participants should schedule their departures for after 6:00 p.m. in order to have plenty of time to check in and clear security. Guests may also make their own arrangements to overnight at the Double Tree Las Vegas for flights the following day. B, L