Dog Friendly Death Valley National Park

by | Mar 21, 2024 | Hiking and Travel Tips

Want to bring your dog to the biggest National Park in the lower 48 of the USA? Death Valley National Park in California is HOT, LOW, and DRY. It’s home to sand dunes, mountains, wild flowers, rocks that move, ghost towns, and more! Come experience the dirt roads of Dog Friendly Death Valley National Park with us!

West entrance to Death Valley National Park in California.
Death Valley: Homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone.

Death Valley National Park is my 3rd favorite US National Park I have ever visited. However I had not come to this park with a dog until now. Since doggos are only permitted on the dirt roads I was curious we would feel from our experience. To be honest: it was better than I could have imagined! Unless you are trying to hike one of the high peaks (Telescope or Wildrose) Death Valley is VERY dog friendly. I’ll share my favorite dirt roads we went on, the pet friendly options to stay, and why I think it’s a good place to visit with your dog if need be. (As nomads we don’t have a place to have a dog sitter come and stay with our pooch. All of our stuff and ourselves are in tow!)

Sunset in the Panamint Mountains in Death Valley National Park.
Fall Foliage in Red River Gorge.

First things first…

It’s a privilege to bring your dog hiking on public lands. Please leash them if the area requests it, clean up after them, and be attentive. And while we are at it…Leave No Trace and Pack Your 10 Essentials :)!
My dog Cotopaxi is a B.A.R.K. Ranger and if you choose to bring the best companions in the world on hiking trails please consider the same.

Now onto the fun stuff…

Six Dog Friendly Death Valley Dirt Road Walks!
And two places to stay!

  1. Crowleys Vista Point Dirt Road, Darwin, California.
  2. Panamint Dunes Dirt Road, Panamint, California.
  3. Mosaic Canyon Dirt Road, Stovepipe Wells, California.
  4. Mustard Canyon, Furnace Creek, California.
  5. Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, California.
  6. Twenty Mule Canyon, Zabriskie, California.
  7. Lodging: Cabins at Panamint Springs (and their restaurant) are Dog Friendly. We stayed here for three nights! Stovepipe Wells also has dog friendly lodging but was SOLD OUT.
  8. Camping: Campgrounds are all (or almost) all dog friendly. Tent, van, and RV options are available throughout the park.
  9. Tecopa Hot Springs: The town of Tecopa, this airbnb, the BBQ restaurant, and the China Ranch Date Farm were all dog friendly and a great spot to enjoy when leaving Badwater Basin.

Death Valley Dirt Road Walks

We devised a plan for our Death Valley National Park experience that broke into three parts:
1. Dirt Road Walk with our dog Cotopaxi to tire him out.
2. Mike Hikes from a place he can’t (Mesquite Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin, Golden Canyon, and Darwin Falls were a few.)
3. Jill Hikes when Mike is back.
4. Rinse and Repeat!

A few thoughts about this plan:
1. Death Valley has TONS of dirt roads that few, if any, cars ever traverse. It’s WIDE OPEN and the scenery is stunning.
2. Death Valley has a massive amount of short hikes. Which lead us to be able to easily bounce back and forth.
3. Four to five miles of walking a day for our dog is plenty for him. We would start and end the day with a long dirt road walk and we found he was exhausted. He was also worn out from smells, meeting other travelers/dogs, etc so stimulation was high.

The dirt road walks in Death Valley often times are as good as the hikes:

1. Devil’s Golf Course Dirt Road. The walk along the salt chunks (especially with the lake that resurfaced for a few short weeks) was as good as any hike I went on.

2. Father Crowley Vista Point Dirt Road. This dirt road walk offered better views of the horizons and salt flats than the parking lot/scenic pullout did.

3. Panamint Dunes Dirt Road. Seeing those RARELY visited dunes in the distance with not a soul around us was unforgettable. It was the nicest and quietest walks we have had with our dogs in months!

Death Valley with your Dog?

This park is the hottest place on Earth with a record setting temperature at over 130F. It gets close to that often in the summer. I would only recommend a visit in the fall, winter, and spring with your pup. Unless it’s a little doggo and you have an RV with A/C.

If you have a plan it’s super enjoyable to experience this park with your pup. You can spot wildflowers, roam the nearby ghost towns, and see most of the big portions of the park. Stargazing is incredible and you don’t need to go hiking to do that!

Death Valley has a GREAT guide and resource for you as well if you want to go on a dirt road walk with your pooch. This guide that you can read HERE match it’s major landmarks with a nearby dirt road walk for you!

I would vote YES to do Death Valley with your dog unless you want to climb one of the major peaks. If you have at least two people that would be idea. Death Valley solo with your dog would be tougher. But the idea that dogs aren’t allowed on the trails scares off some people I think. For me, it was very enjoyable and it didn’t take away or limit my experience at all.

Death Valley has better dirt roads than others for walking.

The dirt roads that lead to popular places or are next to the busiest places in the park will have busier dirt roads! We found the Panamint Dunes Road, Devil’s Golf Course, Mustard Canyon, and Crowleys Vista Point were the best for dirt road walks WITHOUT cars that also felt like hikes!

Four items to note about Death Valley prior to a visit:

1. 4WD/High Clearance is the norm :).
While there are plenty of things to see on the paved roads there’s a lot of really incredible spots that require this. Furnace Creek even has Jeep Rentals to go to places like the Racetrack. (This is the Playa that just a few decades ago was discovered that winds were moving rocks.)

2. This park is more diverse and unique in its landscape and scenery than any US National Park I have visited.
It’s also HUGE. I have been there three times and we spend six days and five nights this last time. The size is hard to grasp until arrival. Plan a few days if you can!

3. Badwater Basin is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere at a jaw dropping 282 feet below sea level! TIMELY NOTE as of March 2024: There is currently a lake around Badwater that will be gone soon. If you have a chance to see Manly Lake at Badwater it last appeared in 2005. This lake went underground over 10,000 years ago and if you can see it get out there!

4. The surrounding area is worth a visit too.
There are ghost towns (Ballarat), non commercialized hot springs (Tecopa), and even the Death Valley Junction intersection gives Opera House Tours of the legendary Marta Becket. She lived in this isolated place on Earth performing several times a week to crowds ranging from 1 to SOLD OUT. Her story is magnificent to learn about. And there’s plenty MORE to explore! Most of the surrounding area was dog friendly.

Mesquite Sand Dunes in Death Valley.

Death Valley (and its dirt roads) awaits you and your pup!

Happy Trails to you and your Pups :).
Thanks for reading and supporting Happy People Hike, comment below with any questions about a dog friendly Death Valley National Park California Adventure.

Happy Hiking,
Mike R

Mike Rudd

Mike Rudd

Nomad, Dood Dad, Planet Lover. Hashtag59 & Happy People Hike Lead Intern. Freelance Writer and Content Creator. Health and Wellness Curator.

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