Backcountry Camping



Interested in backcountry (dispersed) camping? This is a great way to explore the park's rugged wilderness. Check out the information on this page to learn where camping is allowed, which areas require permits, what regulations apply and how to get a permit.

A woman next to a blue tent stares away from the camera across a desert landscape toward desert peaks.
Be sure to check park regulations and permit requirements before heading out on your next Death Valley adventure.


Where is Roadside Camping Allowed?

  • Along dirt roads at least one mile down the road from the junction with any paved road or "day use only" dirt road. See the Backcountry and Wilderness Access Map.

  • Permits are required in some locations. See table below for more information

Where is Camping NOT Allowed?

  • Along paved roads, in pullouts or parking lots
  • On the valley floor from Ashford Mill in the south to 2 miles north of Stovepipe Wells
  • On the Eureka Dunes
  • Greenwater Canyon

Day Use Only dirt roads:

  • Titus Canyon Road
  • Mosaic Canyon Road
  • West Side Road
  • Wildrose Road
  • Skidoo Road
  • Aguereberry Point Road
  • Cottonwood Canyon Road (first 8 miles only)
  • Grotto Canyon Road
  • Racetrack Road (from Teakettle Junction to Homestake Dry Camp)
  • Natural Bridge Canyon
  • Desolation Canyon
  • Pinion Mesa Road
  • Big Pine Road (22 miles inside of Death Valley National Park)

Historic mining areas:

  • Keane Wonder Mine
  • Lost Burro Mine
  • Ubehebe Lead Mine
  • Skidoo Mill
  • One mile from all standing mining structures. Generally camping should be avoided in mining districts for personal and resource safety.

If in doubt whether an area is open to camping please ask a ranger at Furnace Creek Visitor Center or call: (760) 786-3200

Regulations and Information

  • Campsite Selection: Camp only in previously disturbed areas and park your vehicle immediately adjacent to the roadway to minimize impact. The wilderness boundary is 50 feet from the center of most dirt roads.

  • Campfires are prohibited except in provided metal fire rings (campgrounds) or in firepans (backcountry) - pack out all ash. Gathering wood is not allowed. Campstoves and propane grills are allowed.

  • Group size is limited to 12 people and no more than 4 vehicles. Larger groups must split up and camp at least 1/2 mile apart.

  • Off-Road Driving is prohibited. The desert environment is extremely fragile and slow to recover from vehicle damage. If pulling off a road to camp, choose a place that has already been disturbed.

  • Pets are permitted ONLY in developed areas and on park roads. Pets must be leashed at all times. Owners are responsible for clean-up of pet waste. Pets are NOT allowed off roads, on trails, or in the wilderness.

  • Noise: While camping in the backcountry, especially at Eureka Dunes or Saline Warm Springs, you might experience low-level fly-overs from military aircraft.

  • Water: campsites must be more than 100 yards from any water source to protect these fragile areas for wildlife use.

Backcountry/Wilderness Permits

Use the table below to decide if your trip requires a permit:
Activity and Location Permit Mandatory
or Optional?
When can I get a Permit? Where can I get a Permit? Price
4x4 roadside camping in designated sites:
Echo Canyon, Hole in the Wall, Cottonwood Canyon/Marble Canyon
Mandatory Up to 6 mo in advance Online ONLY $10/night
Roadside camping:
Greenwater Valley (Furnace Creek Wash)
Mandatory Up to 6 mo in advance Online ONLY $10/night
Mandatory Up to 6 mo in advance Online ONLY $10/permit
All other roadside camping, backcountry cabins, backpacking, or canyoneering Recommended Any time Furnace Creek Visitor Center or Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station
Drop box outside Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station
Blue mountains reflected in shallow water surrounded by desert shrubs
Water is a rare and important resource in Death Valley.

NPS/Bob Greenburg

Backcountry Saftey and Ethics

The desert is a fragile natural area. Here are some tips that will help you have a safe trip, while protecting this beautiful landscape.

Learn about the region before you go
Talk to a ranger or read publications before your trip. When you familiarize yourself with an area in advance, you will know what equipment you will need for a safe trip and how to leave the area as pristine as you found it.

Death Valley National Park has few maintained trails and no established campsites in the wilderness. Detailed maps are necessary for many hikes in Death Valley National Park. Topographic maps are available online, at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center, or from the Death Valley Natural History Association: (800) 478-8564.

Walk on durable surfaces
Since most hiking in Death Valley National Park is cross-country, it's important to hike on areas where your footsteps will have the least impact. Trampling of vegetation, fragile soil crusts, and animal burrows should be avoided. Walking in canyons with flowing water can have damaging effects on riparian habitats. Avoid walking in the water if possible. If there is an established trail, stay on it. Other low impact areas include desert pavement and dry, gravel washes. When hiking in large groups cross-country, disperse into smaller groups of 3 or 4 and do not walk single file as this creates trails that can last for years.

Choose resistant campsites
Avoid areas with organic ground cover. Instead, choose areas on rock, sand or gravel. Cooking areas should be located away from sleeping areas. This "spreading out" will reduce impact in a concentrated area. Disperse large groups to reduce impacts.

Human waste disposal
To prevent pollution of water or spread of disease, you must dispose of solid waste properly. Dig a "cat-hole" 4-6 inches deep and at least 200 yards from any water source or campsite. After use, the cat-hole should be covered with soil and disguised with natural material.

Since many springs may be dry or contaminated, plan to carry your own water or stash it ahead of time. During hot spring, summer, and fall months, one gallon of water or more per person per day is needed. Heat and very low humidity create extreme dehydration potential during summer. We do not suggest low elevation hiking in Death Valley National Park between May and October. If using backcountry water sources, check with a ranger for water availability, as many springs are seasonal. Always filter water; most springs are heavily used by burros, horses and bighorn sheep.

In winter, the higher elevations are cold enough that snow and ice conditions may require special safety equipment. Do not enter mine shafts, tunnels, or buildings. Watch for rattlesnakes, especially near old structures and vegetated areas near water. Do not camp in dry washes or drainages due to potential flash flood danger.

Last updated: May 5, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328


760 786-3200

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