Death Valley Packing List: What to Wear and Pack in Death Valley

What to Wear in Death Valley Packing List

Planning for an epic road trip to Death Valley National Park? Located by the California and Nevada border, you will have 3.4 million acres to explore vast badlands, salt flats, sand dunes, and mountains. Known as the hottest, driest, and lowest place in the United States, it can be hard to know what to pack. Therefore, I’ve created this Death Valley packing list so you will be fully prepared to have the best time in this National Park!

Mesquite Sand Dunes Death valley travel guide
Mesquite Sand Dunes – Death Valley Packing List

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Death Valley Packing List Clothing

Since Death Valley is located in the Northern Mojave Desert, you can imagine it is quite hot, even in the winter. In fact, during our visit to Death Valley National Park in February, the temperatures were nearly 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

During the summer, average temperatures tend to be a high of 116 degrees and a low of 90 degrees at night. This is why it is highly recommended to visit Death Valley National Park in the winter months. 

So you can imagine packing light breathable clothing to Death Valley is very important. However, what you might not realize is that the park can get a little cold at night. During the winter, Death Valley can have a low of around 40 degrees. Therefore, packing a pair of pants and a light jacket will be welcome. 

Additionally, Death Valley reaches elevations of over 11,000 ft. So if visiting Telescope Peak is on your list, you can actually encounter snow and might consider a winter jacket!  

It is also a good idea to check the weather in Death Valley a week out to get an idea of what temperatures are being predicted. 

Tank tops, light cotton shirts, shorts, or workout clothing will be most comfortable. Since we didn’t plan on doing much hiking, I actually wore a maxi dress and was really comfortable in it.

How much you pack of each item will depend on how many days you plan on spending in Death Valley, but here is a short list of your other Death Valley essentials for your packing list.

Zabriskie Point - man and woman looking out to the view - Death Valley Packing list
My husband regretted wearing those jeans because it was so hot

Shoes to Wear in Death Valley

A common question people ask me is what kind of shoes they should wear for visiting Death Valley. 

Generally, you should be fine with athletic sneakers or comfortable walking boots. Something like these Nike sneakers would do the trick unless you are planning on doing a lot of hiking. 

For more than two-mile hikes, I’d probably recommend going with hiking boots. I personally love my Salomon Hiking boots. I have a more narrow foot.

Keen hiking boots are known to be one of the best/ favorite hiking shoes for those with a wider foot. Additionally, if you are hiking a lot, also consider bringing hiking poles.

You may also want to consider getting sand gaiters when hiking up the sand dunes at Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes. This will help prevent you from getting too much sand in your shoes! Because I wore Chelsea boots (with my hiking socks) that came up past my ankle, I got little to no sand in them. 

As long as you have sturdy footwear, you should be good. I would not recommend sandals here.

Badwater Basin Salt Flats in Death Valley at sunset with woman in red dress
Badwater Basin Salt Flats

Satellite GPS

There is little to no cell phone reception throughout Death Valley and it is a very desolate place. Therefore, adding a Satellite GPS to your Death Valley packing list will be extremely beneficial.

I’d also recommend getting a topographic map of the park, bringing a compass, and downloading the offline map from Google just in case. Find Satellite Car GPS here. For hiking trails, make sure to also download the map ahead of time. A popular app to do this is All trails. 

It might sound excessive, but Death Valley is not a place you want to get lost in or rely on cell phone reception because of the dry/harsh conditions. 

Death Valley Car Packing List Items

Since Death Valley is all about road tripping, making sure you have your car ready is important. There are very few service stations in the park, so you will want to make sure your vehicle is in good working order before starting your journey. 

Additionally, pack a first aid kit, have a spare tire, jack, flares, and a board to place under tires in case you get stuck in the sand. The National Park Service also recommends having 2-3 days’ worth of water and snacks in case of car trouble. 

If, for some reason, you do have car trouble, the park recommends you to stay in your car until help comes.

You can also find more Death Valley Travel Tips here!

death valley travel tips - you should rent a car. Woman standing outside a chevy trail blazer


Sunscreen is incredibly important to add to your Death Valley packing list. As I’ve noted above, it is extremely hot in the park. Make sure to apply sunscreen throughout the day to keep your skin protected.

I love using Juice Beauty (I prefer this one more) or Blue Lizzard. I have very sensitive skin, and both work well and are mineral-based. 

Water and Snacks

Water is one of the most important things you need to bring with you when visiting Death Valley. In fact, the Ranger recommends having at least one gallon per person, with additional water in the car – just in case. Heat exhaustion and dehydration are common in Death Valley because of how dry and hot the climate is, even during the winter.

I would recommend packing a reusable water bottle to fill up and bring with you when you leave the car. I always pack my Lifestraw water bottle no matter where I go, however, any reusable water bottle will work!

If you are planning on doing a lot of hiking, you may even want to consider bringing a Camelback backpack allowing you to easily have more water with you.

Rangers advise when your water bottle is half empty, it is time to return to the car. 

Furthermore, having a cooler with some food or snacks is a must! You can stock up on some food at the General Store at Furnace Creek. Because it is so hot, you will likely burn a lot of energy, which is why it is important to have food with you throughout the day.

If you are flying into California/ Nevada, you can probably grab a cheap cooler at Walmart or Target before going to the park.

Mud Cracks and tiles in Death Valley
Mud Tiles off the side of the road

Battery Pack and USB Outlet Car charger

A battery pack is one of my favorite travel accessories. While you should not rely on technology at Death Valley, it is a lifesaver since I create content for a living!

Small battery | larger battery

Depending on how many people you have in the car, you might want to also consider one of those cigarette outlet chargers so you can charge multiple phones at once.

Day Bag/Backpack

If you are more of an adventurous traveler, I’d recommend a small backpack to carry your things. Some of the most popular travel backpacks are Osprey backpacks. I personally like using the Lowepro backpack which is designed to hold my camera gear along with my extra stuff and water bottle.

walking across the sand dunes with backpack in Death Valley

Bug Repellant

Although the park seems like there is no life, there are certainly bugs. I’d recommend adding bug spray to your Death Valley packing list. If you forget it, make sure to get it before getting to the park. There are not many stores nearby. We started to see bugs coming out as the sun was setting.

Binoculars and Camera Gear

Death Valley is a great place for landscape photography! You have tons of cool photo opportunities, from the giant Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes to the Badwater Basin Salt Flats! I brought my mirrorless Canon R6, however, a point and shoot camera is fine as well. You can see my photography gear here. Remember, drones are not allowed in National Parks. 

If stargazing is of any interest to you, consider bringing binoculars. Death Valley is known for stargazing and is recognized as an International Dark Sky (meaning very little light pollution). Check out these binoculars.

Flashlight or Headlamp

Another item you should consider adding to your Death Valley packing list is a flashlight or headlamp, especially if you plan on camping or hiking. The sun goes down around 5:30 PM during the winter, so if you hike out to see the sunset, having a light can come in handy. 

Furthermore, night hikes are popular, especially if you want to do some stargazing. Death Valley is considered an International Dark Sky making it a prime spot! 

Whistle and Waterproof Matches

While I don’t generally think about packing a whistle and waterproof matches when traveling, these items are recommended by the Rangers in Death Valley. I can definitely see how these items can come in handy if you are planning on camping in the backcountry or doing long hikes.

I guess it is one of those items you rather have and not need it, than need it and not have it (boy do I sound like my mom).

Artist Palette in Death Valley
Artist Palette

Other Toiletries and Items for Your Death Valley Packing List

Here are some of your other basic Toiletries to pack for your Death Valley National Park vacation.

View of the Devils golf course with mountains in the background
Devils Golf Course

Death Valley Packing List Wrap-up

This concludes some of the essential items you should add to your Death Valley packing list! I hope you have an epic time in the largest National Park in the lower 48 states! 

Additionally, when arriving in Death Valley National Park, make sure to stop by the Furnace Creek Visitor Center to get a guidebook if your hotel didn’t provide one. It is usually complimentary and comes with a lot of great additional information.

Where to Stay in Death Valley: The Ranch Oasis at Death Valley | The Inn at Death Valley | Death Valley campgrounds

Find the best flight prices with Skyscanner and Rental Cars here! 

If you have any questions or feel like I missed something, please let me know in the comments below!

If you found this Death Valley Packing List helpful, I’d appreciate it if you could share it below!

Death Valley Packing List
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Samantha Oppenheimer

Samantha Oppenheimer (Sam Opp) quit her corporate marketing job in 2018 to travel the world and become a travel writer, blogger and content creator. She loves experiencing authentic travel experiences, photography, and nature. Sam shares helpful travel itineraries, travel tips, budget tips, and travel advice from her personal experiences. You can also find Sam's words featured in large publications including Mirror, Thrillist, and Well + Good.

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