Buckle up and get ready to hit the road, because we’ve got the ultimate adventure for you! Experience the awe-inspiring landscapes of the American Southwest, including Trona Pinnacles, Mesquite Sand Dunes, Alabama Hills, and Artist Palette. Whether you’re a seasoned road tripper or a first-timer, this epic journey promises to be a feast for the senses. So, get ready to gas up the car, turn up the tunes, and get lost in the beauty of the open road!
Discover the beauty of the Southwestern United States on a road trip from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. To make the most of your experience choose the best time of year to visit based on what you would like to experience. Here is a breakdown of the best times to take this roadtrip depending on the season:
It’s important to note that weather conditions can vary, and it is always a good idea to check the local weather forecast before planning any road trip. Additionally, you should pack accordingly and be prepared for any weather conditions. Keep a look out for the packing guide, coming soon.
Located in the California desert, Trona Pinnacles is a unique geological feature consisting of over 500 tufa spires that rise up to 140 feet tall. These spires were formed by the precipitation of calcium carbonate from the ancient Searles Lake, which covered the area during the Pleistocene era.
A great destination for hikers, photographers, and filmmakers. The site is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and is open to the public for day use and camping.
Trona Pinnacles is also home to a variety of wildlife, including coyotes, rabbits, snakes, and lizards. Caution is advised when hiking due to extreme temperatures and lack of facilities nearby.
Note that the last few miles of the access road can be rough and may require a high-clearance vehicle. It can also be difficult to navigate when it is rainy, as there is lots of mud.
The best time to visit Trona Pinnacles is during the fall, winter, and early spring months, which typically offer more moderate temperatures and milder weather conditions than the scorching hot summer months.
The best times to shoot are typically during the early morning or late afternoon hours near sunrise and sunset. This area is also a popular astrophotography spot as the skies here are often clear and there is little light pollution.
Alabama Hills is a stunning area located in the eastern Sierra Nevadas of California, near the town of Lone Pine. The hills consist of weathered granite boulders and rock formations that have been shaped by wind and water over millions of years. The area offers a unique and picturesque landscape, with stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, including views of Mount Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental United States.
Alabama Hills is a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, and photography, as the area offers a variety of trails and viewpoints that showcase its natural beauty. Visitors can explore the many arches, spires, and boulders that make up the hills, as well as visit the many historic sites and film locations that are scattered throughout the area.
The best time to visit Alabama Hills is during the fall, winter, and early spring months. The weather during this time is generally milder and more comfortable. It can be colder during the winter months so be sure to check the conditions before visiting and pack accordingly.
During the summer, temperatures in Alabama Hills can reach well over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making outdoor activities uncomfortable and potentially dangerous. Additionally, thunderstorms and flash floods are more common during the summer months, creating hazardous conditions for visitors. If you plan on visiting during the summer months, make sure to pack extra water and have plenty of sun protection accessible.
Drones are allowed but be sure to be mindful of our neighbors. The best times to shoot are early morning or late afternoon when the sun creates dramatic shadows and highlights across the rock formations. Sunrise, however, is particularly nice here as the sun hits the dramatic Sierra Nevada mountains first and works its way down to the hills.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is a beautiful natural wonder located in the heart of Death Valley National Park. These dunes are a popular destination for hikers, photographers, and nature enthusiasts, as they offer a stunning backdrop for exploring the desert landscape.
While Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes offers a great opportunity for visitors to experience the beauty of the desert, it’s important to note that this area is not dog-friendly. Dogs are not allowed on the trails or in the dunes, and they must be kept on a leash at all times in other areas of the park.
From the parking area, you can access the dunes by hiking over the small hill in front of you.
The best time to visit Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is anytime between November to February. During this time, the temperatures are mild, and the sand is cooler, making it easier to hike and explore the dunes. In summer, temperatures can exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, making it very uncomfortable to hike or even walk on the dunes. Be sure to pack extra water and sunscreen if you plan on visiting during summer.
The best time to capture the dunes’ beauty is during golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset when the light is warm, soft, and directional.
Zabriskie Point is a breathtaking overlook located in Death Valley National Park, offering panoramic views of the surrounding badlands and canyons. The point is named after Christian Zabriskie, a vice president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company, which operated in the area during the early 20th century. The overlook has been featured in a number of films, including Michelangelo Antonioni’s 1970 film “Zabriskie Point”.
Zabriskie Point offers a unique opportunity for photographers, painters, and nature enthusiasts to capture and enjoy the beauty of the desert landscape. Visitors can explore the various hiking trails and viewpoints in the area, or simply take in the stunning vistas from the comfort of their car.
It is important to note that while Zabriskie Point is open to the public year-round, visitors should come prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing. Additionally, visitors should be respectful of the fragile ecosystem in the area and avoid damaging the delicate rock formations or disturbing wildlife.
Overall, Zabriskie Point is one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in Death Valley National Park, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of California’s desert landscapes.
From the parking area, a short hike up a paved path will take you to the viewpoint at Zabriskie Point.
The best time to visit Zabriskie Point is:
The best time to photograph Zabriskie Point is during golden hour, which is the hour after sunrise or before sunset when the light is soft and warm.
Artists Palette is another must-see destination in Death Valley National Park, located near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. This colorful landscape features a variety of mineral pigments that have been exposed by erosion over time, resulting in a stunning array of hues that range from deep reds and oranges to vibrant greens and blues.
Artists Palette offers a unique opportunity for photographers, painters, and nature enthusiasts to capture and enjoy the beauty of the desert landscape. Visitors can explore the various hiking trails and viewpoints in the area, or simply take in the stunning vistas from the comfort of their car.
It’s important to note that while Artist’s Palette is open to the public year-round, visitors should come prepared with plenty of water, sunscreen, and appropriate clothing. Additionally, visitors should be respectful of the fragile ecosystem in the area and avoid damaging the delicate rock formations or disturbing wildlife. Please stay on already established trails in the area.
Overall, Artist’s Palette is one of the most stunning destinations in Death Valley National Park, offering a unique and unforgettable experience for anyone looking to explore the natural beauty of California’s desert landscapes.
Note that the road, Artists Drive, is a one-way scenic road and is not suitable for longer vehicles or trailers.
Here are some of the best times to visit Artists Palette:
Photographing Artists Palette can be a rewarding experience for any photography enthusiast. Here are some of the best times to capture the beauty of Artists Palette in a photograph:
In summary, the best times to visit Artists Palette are early morning, during fall and winter, and after rainfall. The best times to photograph Artists Palette are during golden and blue hour or on cloudy days.
Badwater Basin is a unique and fascinating natural feature that draws visitors from all over the world. The basin covers an area of approximately 200 square miles and is the lowest point in North America, sitting at an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. The salt flats of the basin were formed by the evaporation of an ancient lake that once covered the region.
The landscape of Badwater Basin is characterized by vast salt flats, salt polygons, and mud cracks. These natural features create stunning patterns that are fascinating to explore and photograph. Visitors to Badwater Basin can also enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding mountains, including Telescope Peak and the Panamint Range.
The best time to visit Badwater Basin is during the winter months when the weather is mild, and the crowds are smaller. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to explore the area, as the light is softer and more conducive to photography.
For photography enthusiasts, Badwater Basin is a dream location. The best time to take photographs of the basin is during sunrise or sunset, when the light is soft and creates beautiful colors in the sky. Blue hour is also a great time to photograph the area, as the deep blue tones in the sky create a stunning contrast with the white salt flats. Additionally, after rainfall, the basin can become covered in a thin layer of water, creating beautiful reflections of the surrounding mountains.
Sunrise and Sunset: The best time to photograph Badwater Basin is during sunrise or sunset, when the light is softer and creates beautiful colors in the sky. The sun rising or setting behind the mountains can also provide a stunning backdrop for your photographs.
Devils Golf Course is another fascinating natural wonder located in Death Valley National Park, California, USA. It is an expansive salt pan that stretches over 200 acres and is known for its sharp and jagged salt formations. The salt formations are created by the repeated freezing and thawing of salty groundwater, which causes the salt to be pushed up to the surface, forming unique and otherworldly spires and formations.
The name “Devils Golf Course” was given to the area by a group of miners who, upon discovering the harsh and unforgiving terrain, proclaimed that only the devil could play golf on such a surface.
Visitors to Devils Golf Course will find it a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape. The area is barren and inhospitable, with no plant or animal life in sight. The salt formations are so sharp and jagged that it is almost impossible to walk on the surface without proper footwear. However, the stunning natural beauty of the formations and the surreal landscape are awe-inspiring and make it well worth a visit.
The best time to visit Devils Golf Course is during the cooler months, from November to March, as temperatures during the summer months can be extreme and dangerous. Additionally, early morning or late afternoon are the best times to explore the area, as the light is softer and creates beautiful shadows and contrasts.
The best time to photograph the area is during the early morning or late afternoon. Additionally, blue hour after sunset can provide beautiful colors in the sky and reflections on the salt formations.
Dante’s View is a popular viewpoint located in Death Valley National Park, California, USA. It is named after Dante Alighieri, the famous Italian poet who wrote the Divine Comedy. Dante’s View is situated at an elevation of 5,475 feet above sea level. From this vantage point, visitors can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Death Valley and the surrounding mountain ranges.
The viewpoint offers a stunning vista overlooking the salt flats of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, as well as the towering mountains of the Panamint Range. The contrast between the harsh and inhospitable landscape of Death Valley and the rugged beauty of the surrounding mountains is truly awe-inspiring.
Dante’s View is accessible by car, and visitors can park at the viewpoint and take a short walk to the edge to enjoy the stunning views. There are also several hiking trails in the area that allow visitors to explore the surrounding mountains and ridges.
The best time to visit Dante’s View is during the cooler months, from November to March, as temperatures during the summer months can be extreme and dangerous. Early morning or late afternoon are the best times to visit. The lighting conditions are softer and more conducive to photography.
The best time to photograph the area is during sunrise or sunset when the light is soft and creates beautiful colors in the sky. Additionally, blue hour after sunset can provide beautiful colors and reflections on the mountains and valleys below.
Big Dune is a hidden gem located outside of Death Valley National Park in Nevada. It is a local secret and relatively undiscovered compared to some of the other more well-known attractions in nearby Death Valley. Despite its remote location, Big Dune is a breathtaking natural wonder that is well worth the effort to visit.
Big Dune covers an area of five square miles and towers about 500 feet. The dune is located just off highway 95 and can be accessed via a dirt and then sandy road. Visitors will need to be cautious when driver closer to the dunes as the sand can become problematic. The closer you get to the dunes the more likely it is that you will need to have 4wd.
The hike to the top of the dune is challenging but rewarding. It takes about 30 minutes to hike to the top and the best panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape.
Because of its remote location, Big Dune remains relatively undiscovered and less crowded than some of the other attractions in nearby Death Valley. This makes it a great destination for those who want to experience the beauty of the desert in a more secluded setting.
The best time to visit Big Dune is during the cooler months, from November to March, as temperatures during the summer months can be extreme and dangerous. Additionally, early morning or late afternoon are the best times to visit, as the lighting conditions are softer and more conducive to photography. During this time it is also less likely that there will be vehicles on the dunes. It is also best to avoid visting on a weekend as weekends are much more popular for people looking to explore the dunes in vehicles.
The best time to photograph Big Dune is during the cooler months, from November to March when the lighting conditions are softer and more conducive to photography and the chance of other people being at the dunes is less. Additionally, early morning or late afternoon are the best times to shoot, as the lighting conditions are more flattering and can create stunning images.
Red Rock Canyon is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers located about 15 miles west of the Las Vegas strip. The canyon is known for its towering red rock formations and diverse plant and animal life, making it a perfect spot for hiking, rock climbing, birdwatching, and photography. It also has a rich cultural history dating back over 10,000 years. Visitors can explore a variety of well-maintained trails, including popular ones like Calico Tanks Trail, Ice Box Canyon Trail, Lost Creek Children’s Discovery Trail, and Turtlehead Peak Trail.
The best time to visit Red Rock Canyon is in the spring and fall, between March and May and September to November, when temperatures are milder, and the weather is generally pleasant. During the summer months, temperatures can soar well above 100°F, making hiking and other outdoor activities challenging and potentially dangerous.
The best time to photograph Red Rock Canyon is during golden hour, which is the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset, when the light is softer and more flattering, creating a warm and golden glow. The soft lighting conditions during these times of the day can create stunning images of the red rock formations, casting dramatic shadows and highlighting the colors of the landscape. Additionally, the spring and fall offer milder temperatures and clearer skies, making it an ideal time for photography.
In conclusion, a road trip from LA to Vegas offers an exciting and memorable adventure through some of the most stunning and diverse landscapes in the United States. From the unique rock formations of Trona Pinnacles and Alabama Hills to the majestic natural wonders of Death Valley National Park, and Red Rock Canyon, this road trip has something for everyone.
Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to explore charming small towns, indulge in delicious food and drinks, and experience a variety of outdoor activities and adventures. Whether you’re a nature lover, an adrenaline junkie, or a culture enthusiast, this road trip will leave you with lasting memories and a renewed appreciation for the beauty and diversity of the American Southwest.
So what are you waiting for? Grab your car keys, pack your bags, and hit the road on an unforgettable journey from LA to Vegas. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or an extended road trip, this adventure is sure to be one for the books. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to experience the best of Southern California and Nevada, and make memories that will last a lifetime!
Here is a sample 5-day itinerary to help you get going on the road. Keep in mind this is just rough suggestion, feel free to make changes to it as needed.
In 2017, I quit my job and dropped out of school to set out on a path less traveled. Since then, I have ventured across the world, built a van and created a life that both scares me and fulfills me at the same time. And I’ve never looked back.