Death Valley is a notoriously harsh, extreme environment. Its name is neither a coincidence or a metaphor. People die here each year. While you don’t need to be scared of visiting, you should take some simple precautions. Follow these so that even when it’s hot as hell, you’ll be in heaven—while most importantly, you will not have to go to either one.
Pack food and water.
Nalgene, Camelbak or Swell? Ha. Good luck. Gallon jugs, my friend. Before you head into Death Valley, grab some jugs of water to keep in the car. Believe me, you will drink it. Get some snacks that could keep you for a few days if you got stranded, like nuts or jerky.
Drive safely and obey speed limits.
More people die from traffic accidents than anything else in Death Valley—a place with literally no traffic! It’s not traffic, it’s people’s speed. So obey the speed limit, dammit! This can be harder than you think. When there is literally nothing but desert wilderness around your car, it can be hard to tell how fast you’re going. Pay extra attention to your speedometer. And just don’t be an idiot.
Have a physical copy of a map.
No cell service + no physical map + lost = holy shit I’m really lost.
No cell service + physical map + lost = back on your way in five minutes.
Keep your gas tank closer to F than E.
Do not run out of gas! There are three gas stations in the park along CA-190. Don’t pass a station and say to yourself, “I’ll fill up at the next one.” Pull your lazy ass over and pump some gas.
Don’t off road!
Especially during the summer, stay on paved roads! If you drive into the sand and your wheels start spinning, we told you so.