While choosing Death Valley National Park as your inaugural camping trip may sound scary…I’ll admit it was a little worrying to willingly drive to a place with DEATH in the name. The prospect of seeing lost lakes, sand dunes, volcanic craters and maybe even a fish was too much to resist.
Death Valley has 9 campgrounds, Furnace Creek Campground is the only campground that takes reservations. The remaining 8 are first-come-first-serve and range in price from free to $36 per night.
As this was our first official camping trip and we were driving a couple hours to get there we went for the security of a reservation and proximity to a hotel…just in case things didn’t go according to plan.
What to expect at Furnace Creek Campground:
After driving through the park from the West entrance you will arrive at Furnace Creek Campground in a little under an hour. Our drive was smooth and enjoyable with minimal traffic.
Furnace Creek has 136 sites so you won’t be alone in the desert here. If solitude is what you’re looking for consider Emigrant or Wildrose campgrounds, with less than 30 spots each they are bound to be quieter.
For indoorsy campers Furnace Creek Campground offers lots of amenities, bailout opportunities (there’s a hotel or two nearby in case things go south) and safety in numbers.
National Park campsites can be booked through recreation.gov. The Park Service has kindly added pictures of each site so you can see exactly what you’re getting into when you go to book. Remember it’s called Death Valley…so you want a spot that can offer you some shade. If you’re like me you will also want to avoid high traffic sites beside the bathrooms, wash areas, dump stations and parking lots. We managed to grab site #125, located at the edge of the grounds with a tree for shade and some distance from the RVs and parking lots.
The Ranch at Death Valley (mid-renovation as of Jan. 2018) is located within walking distance of Furnace Creek and has a restaurant, bar, golf course, pool, tennis, basketball and volleyball courts as well as a general store.
Being indoorsy campers we took advantage and grabbed a bite to eat at the restaurant and a bundle of firewood from the general store (it’s not camping unless s’mores are involved).
- Clean campsites
- Picnic table and fire ring at each site
- Flush toilets, sinks and water
- Dump stations
- Safety in numbers
- Proximity to lots of great hikes and sites
- Lots of people….some people may not like this, but I found it fine
- Clogged sinks. Lots of campers were cleaning their pots/pans/dishes in the communal sinks. This left them kind of disgusting after evening meal times.
All in all I rate Furnace Creek Campground highly. As our first camping trip it was great. It eased us into the outdoors and there were nearby restaurants if we decided we didn’t want to do any cooking.
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