Are you using a screen reader? Click here to view the navigation links for this site as a bulleted list.

Partner logos: BLM, FWS, FS, NPS, University of Montana Logo
Connecting federal employees, scientists, educators, and the public with their wilderness heritage
Text size: A | A | A  [Print]

Death Valley Wilderness

General Location Maps Contacts Area Management Wilderness Laws Trip Planning Images
A desert sunrise, inky black shadow rolling back over the valley floor, as golden clouds cast an orange glow over the mountains in the distance.
Library image #382: Saline Valley sunrise


The United States Congress designated the Death Valley Wilderness (map) in 1994 and it now has a total of 3,102,456 acres. California contains approximately 3,057,106 acres. Nevada contains approximately 45,350 acres. It is managed by the National Park Service. The Death Valley Wilderness is bordered by the Sylvania Mountains Wilderness to the north, the Inyo Mountains Wilderness to the west, the Darwin Falls Wilderness to the west, the Argus Range Wilderness to the west, the Surprise Canyon Wilderness to the west, the Manly Peak Wilderness to the west, the Funeral Mountains Wilderness to the east, the Ibex Wilderness to the east, the Saddle Peak Hills Wilderness to the east, and the Resting Spring Range Wilderness to the east.


Death Valley is the hottest, driest, lowest spot in North America. Annual rainfall is less than 2 inches. Average summertime temperatures hover around 115 degrees Fahrenheit. The 134 degrees recorded here on July 10, 1913 is the highest temperature recorded on the planet. Yet there is far more to the park than its dryness and heat. There is a stark beauty to this land of extremes. Telescope Peak, the highest peak in the park, rises 11,049 feet above the valley floor. This mountain and many others in the Panamint Range remain snowcapped in the winter months. While 15 miles to the east is Badwater Basin, a salt flat that is the lowest spot in North America, at -282 feet below sea level. There are also vast fields of sand dunes, narrow winding canyons, steep alluvial fans, deep craters and colorful badlands to explore in this vast Wilderness.

Speaking of its vastness, Death Valley National Park is the largest national park outside of Alaska and 91% of the park is designated Wilderness. This Wilderness area is yours to enjoy, to preserve and to protect. Visitors are free to hike, backpack and camp in the wilderness. Always pay attention to the temperature, carry plenty of water and a map. In summertime, all but the highest peaks are too hot to safely recreate in. Winter is a much more pleasant time to explore the outdoors. For visitor safety and resource protection visitors are encouraged to pick up a free backcountry permit at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, open daily from 8-5, or the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station, open as staffing allows.

Planning to Visit the Death Valley Wilderness?

Leave No Trace

How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Death Valley Wilderness.
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel and Camp on Durable Surfaces
  3. Dispose of Waste Properly
  4. Leave What You Find
  5. Minimize Campfire Impacts
  6. Respect Wildlife
  7. Be Considerate of Other Visitors
For more information on Leave No Trace, Visit the Leave No Trace, Inc. website.

Give us your feedback