Death Valley National Park is the lowest and possibly the hottest tourist destination in the US. No surprise that it’s also in California. It is hot in the summer with searing heat and no cover from the sun. It transforms into a beautiful landscape in the spring as the bloom covers the entire landscape in a variety of blue, pink, and red flowers. It is quite the sight in a desert. The weather is often hostile and unpredictable, but that only adds to the fun. To enter, you can buy an all-access pass at $80 or $25 for entrance for 7 days. This pass gives you access to many parks all over the country. It covers the entrance, use of amenities, and day fees. Be sure to get an experienced driver and a proper off-road vehicle before getting on the rugged terrain of the Death Valley backcountry.
My name is Eddie, I am 30 years old, and I love hiking. This has sent me across the country to many tourist attractions to quench my thirst for a new adventure. I have been to dozens of places and use my experience in those places to help you be well-prepared for your next adventure. In this article, I will give you a complete guide of the essentials you will need in your Death Valley packing list.
Packing List for Death Valley National Park in the Spring or Summer
When you travel to Death Valley in the spring or summer, you will likely encounter thunderstorms and very erratic warm weather with high winds. This frequently causes road closures as some roads can be washed off. This also means that the gear you carry in this time is different from what you will carry in the winter.
Essential Death Valley Hiking Gear
These are a must-have for a good hiking experience:
Buy the proper shoes for hiking, they usually have lug soles for more grip and also provide you with sufficient ankle support to help avoid injury walking in the rugged landscape. You will likely prefer a hike in the heat on some cooler trails like the Wildrose Charcoal Kilns to Windrose Peak, enjoying 4.2 miles of exquisite scenery.
In the searing desert heat, you will find your feet getting hot while you are hiking. Choose the right socks that are comfortable and thick enough to keep your feet from getting sweaty and slipping around in your shoes. This lowers the risk of getting blisters on your feet as well.
- Track Clothing
You will want to wear something that will be comfortable in the heat, which goes up to 100 degrees in the summer. The tricky part about the desert is that the temperature reverses very quickly at night and becomes very chilly. Wear relatively warm clothing that won’t get too hot during the day. It is a good idea to put on waterproof jackets in the summer in case you are hit with a thunderstorm.
There is little shade in the desert with glaring sunlight all day. Carrying a pair of sunglasses before a hike or a drive through the park will save you the pain of having to shade your eyes with your arms. You will also do well to pack a hat and bring sunscreen to protect your skin.
Tech for the Death Valley Packing List
Some of these are lifesavers while others make your hiking experience much better:
- Power Bank
You will need one, you do not want to have a dead cell phone in the middle of the desert. Several people have been reported to have gotten lost on the trails and ended up in places with little to no service. Keeping your phone on will help you keep up with the weather forecast and plan your day well.
Death Valley is a very large park. You may end not having the time to explore the entire park. A pair of binoculars will bring the sights to you, no pun intended. A regular pair of binoculars will do.
You can use the one on your phone, but for a more authentic feel. an actual compass can come in handy when you are doing to this park.
The large and extensive network of roads through Death Valley offers a fertile playground for self-guided adventures. On these trails, it is easy to find yourself inadequately prepared, and you end up losing your way. Having a GPS will help you keep track of where you are and your heading.
Beautiful scenery is abundant in the desert, and a good camera will help you keep all those amazing views for later. If you have a good camera on your phone it can work just as well, I guess. Carrying heavy film equipment is ill-advised because that will get you tired pretty fast.
In case you have seen a weather forecast for rains at 3 PM, and your phone goes off before that time, a watch will come in handy in keeping time and ensuring you get out of the way of rains and avoid potential road closures if any.
- Spare tires
This is in case you are driving yourself around in the park. If you come with your car, ensure it has proper ground clearance and off-road capabilities. A spare tire is always a good idea because the rugged landscape is sure to take a toll on your regular tires.
Essentials for Death Valley Backpacking List for Any Season
For hygiene, hydration and unexpected emergencies, you must have:
- First Aid Kit
You will need to have adequate compact first aid supplies in case you get injured in the wild. I have to insist you get one because the closest services can be tens of miles away when you are in the valley.
- Pocket Knife
You never know when one will come in handy. You will be well served to carry a pocket knife. You can use it for a variety of things, including opening a can of food.
You are in the desert and run the risk of dehydration the longer you stay in that heat. Carry a lot of water. Whether you are hiking or driving, bring with you a lot more water than you think you will need. You will sweat a lot in the heat, and this will help replenish that need.
In the wild and far from any amenities, carrying food that will sustain you until you get back to where you are staying is a good idea. If you plan on taking on a trail for an entire day, carry sufficient food that will last until your return. The weather in the desert is unpredictable at times, and you may end up staying out longer than you anticipated.
You will have to find a nice and comfortable backpack to help you carry all your gear. Whether you are hiking or trekking in the desert, a backpack makes it easier for you to store all your valuables and easily gain access to them.
Packing List for Death Valley National Park in the Winter
In the winter, there is rainfall that happens in erratic patterns. It increases the likelihood of road closures and the unavailability of certain services. You will be well served to avoid getting caught up in that mess. If you do decide to visit the valley in the winter, here are some ways you can better prepare yourself.
What to Wear to Death Valley National Park in the Winter
The winters are relatively cooler than the summers during the day. The nights are also significantly colder. Warm clothing is advisable during this time. You will also be well served to carry gloves for the night. Avoid shorts, if possible, and choose waterproof clothing so that a jacket also doubles up as a raincoat for the erratic rains. You will need this hiking gear over the winter:
- Hiking shoes
- Warm socks
- Track clothing
The rains in winter last for some time, so be sure to carry a proper umbrella with you. Getting stranded because of the heavy rain will necessitate that you carry flashlights to help you hike with ease at night. It is also necessary for you to layer up, as several layers of track clothing will keep you warmer.
Aside from the clothing, you will pretty much have to have the rest of the items and gadgets that you would carry in the summer, including:
- Power bank
- Spare tires
- Pocket knife
- First aid kit
Summary of What to Bring to the Death Valley National Park
It is important to be prepared before going on this hike. Appropriate clothing is a huge part of this preparation. Your clothing should keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In summary, here is what you need to bring with you: water, food, a backpack, a watch, compass, power bank, pocket knife, spare tires, sunglasses, a hat, binoculars, cameras, a GPS, shoes, tracking clothing, socks, and gloves. In case you have any allergies, be sure to carry your medication as well.
If you have been to the Death Valley National Park and know an essential of the Death Valley packing list that is not mentioned in this article, please let me know. Do you have additional tips for packing for a hike? Do not hesitate to tell me all about them in the comment section below.