Death Valley Camping: Best Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

Best Death Valley Camping

Everything you need to know about Death Valley camping, including my favorite campgrounds in the park.

Death Valley might be the lowest and hottest place on the planet, but it’s also the biggest national park in the Lower 48, offering an insane diversity of environments and climates. 

Not only are there forested, high-elevation campgrounds and limitless dispersed camping, but there are also campgrounds with pools, showers, and WiFi if that’s your jam. 

This is all to say that camping in Death Valley National Park need not be a death-defying experience. 

Below, I’ve thoroughly researched all 12 campgrounds at the park to help you have the best Death Valley camping experience possible.

Note: this post contains affiliate links, which help run this site at no extra cost to you so I can keep providing free travel advice and tips.

best camping in death valley national park

Table of Contents

A Quick Glance at Death Valley National Park Campgrounds

Campground Location Sites Toilets Group RV
Furnace Creek Furnace Creek 136 Flush Yes Yes, dump station
Texas Spring Furnace Creek 40 Flush No Yes, dump station
Thorndike West Death Valley 6 Vault No RV hookups
Mahogany Flat West Death Valley 10 Vault No No
Stovepipe Wells Furnace Creek 190 Flush No Yes, dump station
Panamint Springs Resort West Death Valley 76 Flush No RV hookups
Stovepipe Wells RV Park Stovepipe Wells 14 Flush No RV hookups
Mesquite Spring North Death Valley 40 Flush No Yes, dump station
Emigrant West Death Valley 10 Flush No No
Wildrose West Death Valley 23 Vault No No
Sunset Furnace Creek 270 Flush No Yes, dump station
Fiddler’s Camp Furnace Creek 31 Flush No No

America the Beautiful Pass

If you’re planning to visit more than 2-3 big national parks in a year, you should consider getting the America the Beautiful Pass

This pass is sold at REI, costs $80, and will get you into all of the National Park Service sites.

You can also buy the America the Beautiful Pass at any park entrance station that collects fees or online here. The National Park Service sells discounted passes for seniors and veterans.


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Making Reservations for Death Valley National Park

Making reservations for Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park camping reservations can be made by calling 1-877-444-6777 or going to recreation.gov. I recommend using recreation.gov. 

Here’s how you can book a campsite:

  1. Make a profile on recreation.gov.
  2. Search for “Death Valley National Park” and the campgrounds with reservations should come up.
  3. Pick your dates and book your site.

Death Valley campgrounds become available six months in advance at 7 am Pacific Time and must be booked at least two days in advance of your stay. 

You can also book a campsite at the Death Valley Visitor Center in Furnace Creek.

There’s a fee to enter Death Valley National Park but the park itself doesn’t require a reservation. You can pay the fee at the ranger station as you enter the park or use your America the Beautiful Pass.

Places to Camp in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley is the biggest national park in the Lower 48 and encompasses a huge range of ecosystems. 

With that in mind, there are campgrounds that are better suited to certain seasons. Check out the Death Valley camping page to learn more about how to camp in this unique desert environment. 

Oh, and by the way, camping in Death Valley is usually quite reasonable in price. The average site price is around $20. Below are the different regions of the park where you can camp.

Places to Camp in Death Valley National Park

Furnace Creek

The Furnace Creek area of the park is the most popular for camping. 

It’s centrally located in a low valley in the park and close to many of the park’s biggest attractions, including Badwater Basin, Zabriskie Point, and Artist’s Palette Way

In this area, clustered quite close together, you’ll find Furnace Creek Campground, Texas Springs Campground, Sunset Campground, and Stovepipe Wells RV Park and Campground (about 30 mins from Furnace Creek). 

You’ll want to camp in this area of the park if you’re visiting in winter and want to catch all the “greatest hits” of the park.

North Death Valley

North Death Valley is the area north of Highway 180. Highway 180 is the main highway that goes through the park from east to west, then makes a sharp right turn and continues north and south through the park. 

This north area of the park is harder to access because there isn’t a major highway through it. Even still, you’ll find Mesquite Spring Campground on the northeast border of the park. 

This area of the park is more mountainous and would be a good place to camp for those who are capable of car camping or boondocking.

West Death Valley

West Death Valley describes the Panamint Mountain area to the west of the main valley floor. 

The Death Valley campgrounds here include Panamint Springs Resort RV park, Emigrant Campground, Wildrose Campground, Mahogany Flat Campground, and the Thorndike Campground. 

This side of the park tends to be higher in elevation and can be a good place for summer camping.

Best Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

There are nine national park campgrounds and three private campgrounds in Death Valley. Below, I’ve listed them all with my favorite ones at the top.

Furnace Creek Campground

Furnace Creek Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s the only national park campground that has full hookups, dry RV sites, and tent sites.
Location: Furnace Creek
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 136 (18 RV hookup sites)
Cost: $22
Reservations allowed: Yes, from Oct 15-April. No reservations are needed in the summer. Click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, picnic tables, drinking water, cell service, RV hookups, and a dump station. This is the only campground with group sites in Death Valley.
Campground map

Furnace Creek Campground is the most popular of the Death Valley campgrounds because it’s centrally located and the only campground with full RV hookups. 

Additionally, this is a popular camping spot because it’s close to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and has (occasional) cell service. 

Expect this campground to be full during peak camping season and holiday weekends.  

This campground, along with Sunset Campground, has the unique distinction of sitting at -196 feet below sea level, so expect warm temperatures even in winter.

Texas Spring

Texas Spring campground in death valley

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s a first-come, first-served option near Furnace Creek Campground.
Location: Furnace Creek
Open: Late fall through spring
Number of sites: 92
Cost: $16
Reservations allowed: No
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, picnic tables, drinking water, cell service, and a dump station.
Campground map

The Texas Springs Campground is also located on the valley floor of the Furnace Creek area. 

It’s right down the road from the Furnace Creek Campground but is a first-come, first-served campground that’s suitable for RVs and tent campers. 

Like the other campgrounds in this area, expect a rather exposed campground with little shade at most sites.

Thorndike Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: As one of the smaller places to tent camp, this campground offers excellent privacy.
Location: West Death Valley (1.5 hrs from Furnace Creek)
Open: Late spring through fall
Number of sites: 6
Cost: Free
Reservations allowed: No
Amenities: Vault toilets, a fire pit, and picnic tables. No drinking water, RV hookups, or showers.
Campground map

Thorndike Campground sits at 7,400 feet of elevation, making it a truly high-elevation campground. 

This very small Death Valley campground has no camping fee and enjoys the shade of the surrounding forest. 

It’s a first-come, first-served campground and isn’t open during peak camping season in the winter.

This is a primitive campground requiring high clearance vehicles shorter than 25 feet long. Four-wheel drive is recommended.

Mahogany Flat Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s near the Telescope Peak trailhead, which is a popular backpacking destination.
Location: West Death Valley
Open: Late spring through fall
Number of sites: 10
Cost: Free
Reservations allowed: No
Amenities: Vault toilets, a fire pit, picnic table, and drinking water. No RV hookups or showers.
Campground map

The Mahogany Flat Campground is the highest elevation campground in the park, at 8,200 feet of elevation gain. 

This is a free first-come, first-served campground just down the road from Thorndike Campground. I like the smallness and remoteness of this campground, plus I like to camp amongst trees. 

High clearance vehicles shorter than 25 feet long are needed to access this campground, and four-wheel drive is highly recommended for this Death Valley campground. 

This campground is an hour and 45 minutes from Furnace Creek.

Stovepipe Wells Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s close to the famous Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
Location: Furnace Creek
Open: Late fall through spring
Number of sites: 190
Cost: $14
Reservations allowed: No
Amenities: Flush toilets, shared picnic tables and fire pits, drinking water, gas station. No RV hookups but does have a dump station. Shower passes and swimming pool access are available for a fee.
Campground map

Stovepipe Wells Campground sits on the same property as the Stovepipe Wells RV Park but is run by the National Park Service. 

This campground is quite large and for a fee, has access to all the amenities of Stovepipe Village.

Stovepipe Wells Campground is about 30 minutes from the main Death Valley Visitor Center in Furnace Creek and is suitable for tent camping and RV camping.

Panamint Springs Resort

Panamint Springs Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: They offer tent cabins, RV sites, motel rooms, and tent camping sites, plus they have showers.
Location: West Death Valley
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 76
Cost: $15 tent site, $60 hookup site, $30 non-hookup site
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, communal fire pit, picnic table, drinking water, gas station, general store, and showers. One of three campgrounds with RV hookups but no dump station.
Campground map

Panamint Springs Resort is the westernmost place to stay in the park. 

It will be the first developed facility as you head east into the park on Highway 190. It has tons of amenities you won’t find in Furnace Creek, like a gas station, general store, and showers. 

Panamint Springs Resort is also the only facility that offers tent cabins.

Stovepipe Wells RV Park

Stovepipe Wells RV Park

Why it’s worth camping at: Uhm, free pool and WiFi anyone?
Location: Stovepipe Wells Village (30 minutes from Furnace Creek)
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 14
Cost: $40 with hookups ($20 senior pass)
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, drinking water, swimming pool, WiFi, general store, and gas station. No fire pits or picnic tables. One of three campgrounds with full RV hookups.
Campground map

The Stovepipe Wells RV Park (and campground) are located in Stovepipe Wells Village, which is about 30 minutes northwest of Furnace Creek. This is one of the private campgrounds in the park and one of three campgrounds with full RV hookups. 

If you camp here, you’ll get access to the swimming pool and WiFi at Stovepipe Wells, plus there’s a general store and restaurant on the property. 

This campground books out quickly on holiday weekends!

Mesquite Spring

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s the best launching pad to explore the northern part of the park, including Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle (currently closed).
Location: North Death Valley
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 40
Cost: $14
Reservations allowed: No.
Amenities: Flush toilets, a fire pit, picnic table, drinking water, and a dump station.
Campground map

If you’re looking for a remote camping experience and aren’t ready for car camping or boondocking, check out the Mesquite Spring Campground

This Death Valley campground sits in the northeast part of the park near Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle (currently closed due to flood damage). 

The campsites here are separated by sparse mesquite bushes but they look out onto lovely rolling mountains.

Emigrant Campground

Emigrant Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s a free campground near Highway 395.
Location: West Death Valley
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 10 (tent only)
Cost: Free
Reservations allowed: No.
Amenities: Flush toilets, picnic table, and drinking water. No fire ring or RV hookups.
Campground map

There are very few campgrounds I can think of within the national parks that are free, but Emigrant Campground is one of them (actually Death Valley has four free campgrounds which is amazing!).

This is a small tent-only campground right off Highway 190. Emigrant Canyon Road is nearby, which takes park visitors to a vista point in the park, Emigrant Pass.

Wildrose Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s a free, high(er) elevation campground with cooler summer temps than the valley.
Location: West Death Valley (1.15 hrs from Furnace Creek)
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 23
Cost: Free
Reservations allowed: No.
Amenities: Vault toilets, a fire pit, picnic table, and drinking water. No dump station.
Campground map

Wildrose Campground is a free campground in Death Valley situated in the Panamint Mountains at 4,100 feet of elevation. 

This high-elevation spot will be cooler in the summer–although by cooler I mean “potentially not deadly.” 

This campground still gets plenty hot in the summer and the sites are surrounded by mesquite bushes without much shade.

Furnace Creek is just over an hour from Wildrose Campground on Emigrant Canyon Road and is not accessible for vehicles longer than 25 feet.

Sunset Campground

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s perfect for last-minute campers in need of a spot.
Location: Furnace Creek
Open: Late fall through spring
Number of sites: 270
Cost: $14
Reservations allowed: No
Amenities: Flush toilets, communal fire pits, drinking water, cell service, no RV hookups or picnic tables but does have a dump station.
Campground map

Sunset Campground sure ain’t the prettiest campground I’ve ever seen. This is essentially a gravel lot with campsite spaces marked out, but there’s still something to be said for this campground. 

Sunset Campground is seldom full so if you’re desperate for a spot, this will do just fine. 

At -196 feet below sea level, it’s extremely hot here but it’s close to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and has spotty cell service (which is better than none)! 

This would be a good option for those who are car camping or have an RV.

Fiddler’s Camp

Why it’s worth camping at: It’s great for RV campers or car campers who want to have access to the Oasis at Death Valley.
Location: Furnace Creek
Open: Year-round
Number of sites: 31
Cost: $29 (Sun-Thurs), $34 (Fri-Sat)
Reservations allowed: Yes, click here to reserve.
Amenities: Flush toilets, community fire pits, communal picnic table, and drinking water. No RV hookups or dump station.

Fiddler’s Camp is a pretty bare-bones campground. It’s mostly a gravel lot and would be best suited for RV or car camping. 

Camping at Fiddler’s Camp also puts you very close to the Oasis at Death Valley. The Oasis has a pool, an old-timey ice cream parlor, as well as a few places to eat and a golf course.

Best Backcountry Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

Best Backcountry Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park_telescope Peak trail

Backcountry camping in Death Valley is a truly wild experience. 

Death Valley doesn’t have any established backcountry campgrounds and there aren’t even very many backcountry hiking trails. Most of the backcountry hiking here will require you to travel off-trail. 

If that doesn’t sound appealing to you, car camping is allowed along most dirt roads in the park.

For this type of dispersed camping, you’ll want to read the park backcountry webpage to thoroughly understand all the rules, but I’ll summarize them below.

Car Camping Regulations in Death Valley

  • Car camping spots can be found on dirt roads at least one mile away from any paved road and day-use dirt roads.
  • Only park in previously used pull-offs, don’t make your own.
  • Do not drive cross-country to find a spot.
  • Campfires and gathering firewood are prohibited.
  • Pets are not allowed on dirt roads or in the backcountry.
  • Group size is limited to 12 people, with no more than 4 vehicles.

Take a look at the backcountry and wilderness access map for more clarification.

Backcountry Permits at Death Valley

Backcountry camping permits at Death Valley are free and it’s not required that you obtain one. 

That said, as someone who has helped with dozens of search and rescue operations over the years, I *highly* encourage you to fill out a permit. 

These permits don’t automatically trigger a search if you come out of the backcountry late, but it will be an invaluable tool for searchers to find you should something unfortunate happen. 

Below are some popular areas that I’d recommend for backcountry camping:

Telescope Peak

Telescope Peak is a popular backcountry camping trip in Death Valley. This is a difficult 14-mile out-and-back trip with 3,000 feet of elevation gain. 

It takes most people 7-12 hours to do this trail. To get to the trailhead, you’ll take Emigrant Canyon Road to Mahogany Flat Campground (you need a high clearance 4×4 vehicle to get here). 

The payoff for this hike is views of the Panamint Valley and Death Valley.

Panamint Dunes

There are several dune fields in Death Valley and the Panamint Dunes are some of the more remote ones. 

This is a 7-mile backcountry camping trip with about 900 feet of elevation gain, making this a moderately difficult hike. 

You can also do this as a day trip and it takes most people 3-5 hours to complete.

Fall Canyon

Fall Canyon is in the northeast section of the park and is a beautiful canyon with varied geological features along the canyon walls. 

This is a 6-mile round trip hike that is rated as moderate-difficult and takes most people about 3.5 hours.

Free Camping in Death Valley National Park

Free Camping in Death Valley National Park

There are several ways to camp for free in Death Valley. 

First, you can check out one of the four free campgrounds. If that doesn’t pan out, you can just car camp on many of the dirt roads in the park with a free backcountry permit. 

Here are options for free Death Valley campgrounds:

Campgrounds Near Death Valley: Best Camping Outside the Park

There’s also lots of camping near Death Valley, no matter which side of the country you’re coming from. 

Since the main road through Death Valley runs east-west, I’ll cover camping options on the natural routes through the park.

Campgrounds near Death Valley Best Camping Outside the Park - diaz lake

East Side of Death Valley

If you’re coming from Las Vegas, these east-side camping options might be for you. 

Tecopa Hot Springs Resort: Includes RV sites with full hookups, showers, and two hot spring-fed hot tubs. Tecopa Hot Springs is about an hour from Furnace Creek.

Shoshone Village Campground: Conveniently located one mile from the southeast Death Valley entrance with a warm mineral spring pool, showers, laundromat, and communal fire pits.

West Side of Death Valley

If you’re coming from Los Angeles, Joshua Tree, or Tahoe, check out these west side sites. 

Most of these campgrounds are in the valley between the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley.  

Diaz Lake Campground: Inyo County has several campgrounds available on the west side of Death Valley. Diaz Lake is about 45 minutes from the west entrance to the park and includes RV and tent camping spots.

Fossil Falls Campground: This is a BLM-run, first-come, first-served campground with six sites on the east side of Highway 395. It’s just over an hour to the west entrance to Death Valley National Park.

Death Valley Camping Tips

Death Valley Camping Tips

Bring More Water Than You Think You’ll Need

Heat kills. Bring at least one gallon of water per person per day while exploring Death Valley, even if you’re only planning to explore from your vehicle.

The Death Valley safety webpage does not mince words on this topic. Even if your campground has drinking water, bring lots of water with you so that if your vehicle breaks down you won’t dehydrate.

Get Your Vehicle a Tune-Up Beforehand

Heat kills cars too. Many older vehicles simply were not designed to operate in the punishing heat of Death Valley. Go to Jiffy Lube and get a $75 oil change and fluid top-off before you head out.

Rent an RV

I’m all for roughin’ it but you may find yourself more comfortable if you just rent an RV. 

Many of the campgrounds in Death Valley have no shade so even winter camping may be uncomfortable for some folks.

Cool Off at The Oasis

The Oasis at Death Valley includes two accommodation options (a four-star hotel and a family-friendly “ranch” option). 

The Oasis sells day passes to non-overnight guests to use the pool and showers for $14/per day per person.

Sleep Off the Ground

Even in the shoulder seasons, nighttime temperatures can remain close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you can sleep off the ground, this will help cool the space underneath you. There aren’t a lot of hammocking trees in Death Valley but a camping cot would also suffice.

Don’t Drive Off-Road

If you’re car camping, be sure to keep your tires well within a previously used pullout. Not only is the desert soil incredibly fragile, but there’s a myriad of pokey plants that will pop a tire in a heartbeat. 

I would use caution pulling off onto any dirt pull-off because I have had tires punctured by seemingly small desert plants before.

Best Time to Camp in Death Valley National Park

Best Time to Camp in Death Valley National Park

Spring (Feb-April): This is a great time to camp in Death Valley. The temperatures are bearable and the spring wildflower bloom can be breathtaking. This would be my ideal time to camp in the park.

Summer (May-September): I do not recommend camping in the summer unless you’re staying at one of the high-elevation campgrounds. The temperatures are dangerously hot in the valleys.  

Fall (October-November): Fall can be another nice time to experience the desert. Death Valley camping in November is the start of the busy camping season.

Winter (December-January): Temperatures are historically the best for camping at popular low-elevation campgrounds now. The high elevation campgrounds are typically closed now.

FAQs About Death Valley Camping

FAQs About Camping in Death Valley

Is it worth camping in Death Valley?

If you’re game to explore a unique desert environment and aren’t bothered by heat, wind, or dust, camping in Death Valley is totally worth it.

Can you camp anywhere in Death Valley?

You cannot camp everywhere in Death Valley, but you can camp in most places including many dirt roads.

Death Valley has an almost innumerable number of backcountry camping options. Read more about dispersed camping in Death Valley.

Is there Boondocking in Death Valley?

Yes, boondocking, or dispersed camping for free in a location of your choosing, is allowed in Death Valley.

That said, there are still rules to follow while boondocking in Death Valley. Read more about dispersed camping in Death Valley.

Which Death Valley campsite is the best?

The best campground in Death Valley is Furnace Creek Campground because of its proximity to popular features and the visitor center.

Do you need a reservation to camp at Death Valley?

Of the nine national park campgrounds in Death Valley, only Furnace Creek Campground takes reservations, and even then, only from October 15th to April 15th. 

Most of the privately-owned campgrounds take reservations year-round.

Can I sleep in my car at Death Valley?

Camping in your car is allowed in established campgrounds as well as many of the dirt roads in the park including:

  • Hole in the Wall Road
  • Trail Canyon Road
  • Echo Canyon Road
  • Lemoigne Canyon Road

The park has a list of places where car camping is not allowed. The general rule is that you can camp anywhere as long as you’re more than one mile from a paved road or a dirt day-use road.

How much does it cost to camp in Death Valley?

There are four free national park campgrounds in Death Valley. The remaining campgrounds range from $14-$60, depending on whether you need RV hookups.

Can you drive an RV in Death Valley?

Yes, Death Valley RV camping is very popular and most of the campgrounds can accommodate RVs.

Do cell phones work in Death Valley?

Not well. Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells Village have limited service and Stovepipe Wells offers WiFi to guests.

Does Death Valley have snakes?

Yes. Death Valley has 19 species of snakes, including the Mojave rattlesnake, which is venomous.

Can you have a fire in Death Valley?

You can have a fire in an established fire pit in an established campground unless there are fire restrictions in place. 

You cannot have a fire while car camping on dirt roads, boondocking, or backpacking.

How many days do you need in Death Valley?

An adequate Death Valley camping trip needs at least two days. This is, after all, the biggest national park in the Lower 48!

Looking for what to see in Death Valley? Read our guide to the best things to do in Death Valley?

What to Pack for Camping in Death Valley

What to Pack for Camping in Death Valley

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

author bio - Meredith Dennis

Meredith Dennis

Meredith is a biologist and writer based in California’s Sierra Nevada. She has lived in 6 states as a biologist, so her intel on hiking and camping is *chef’s kiss* next level. One of her earliest camping memories was being too scared to find a bathroom at night on a family camping trip. Thankfully, she’s come a long way since then and she can help you get there too!


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Death Valley Camping: Best Campgrounds in Death Valley National Park

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