The Best Death Valley National Park Packing List (Season by Season)

Post Summary: The Complete Death Valley National Park Packing List

So, you’ve decided to take a trip to Death Valley National Park. Lucky you!

Death Valley is such an incredible national park to discover, full of natural wonders and life that can live on the edge of extremes.

Berty and I are no stranger to the desert. Despite living in the Pacific Northwest, we find ourselves returning to the sunny southwest USA practically every year when we need a healthy dose of sunshine.

We know a thing or two about planning a Southern California road trip, and packing according to the area and its activities.

Keep scrolling for our all-season Death Valley National park packing list, and scroll down even further for seasonal additions along the way.

Happy packing!

The Complete Death Valley National Park Packing List For All Seasons

Let’s start with an all-season packing list for Death Valley National Park. We’ll dive into specifics for each season below, but this first section is dedicated to things you’ll need any time of year.

What To Wear in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park Packing List - Lightweight Layers

1. Lightweight Layers

Most days are VERY HOT, but the mornings and evenings can be quite chilly! It’s essential to be prepared for a wide range of temperatures in Death Valley National Park.

Here are the layers you should be packing:

  • Base Layer: Merino wool or quick-dry synthetic fabric. NO cotton. (Cotton can hold on to water and make you feel colder or keep you wet.
  • Fleece Jacket: This layer retains heat and keeps you warm at night.
  • Rain shell or wind breaker. Depending on the weather, the outer layer should keep you away from the elements, but especially the wind here.
Death Valley Packing List - Long Pants

2. Long Pants

No matter what time of year you visit, long pants are always a good addition to your Death Valley National Park packing list.

Not only do pants keep you warmer, but they can also protect your skin from the harsh sun and dusty weather. They can prevent you from getting scratched by underbrush and keep mud off your body too.

The Swiftland Running Pants from REI are an excellent lightweight option for trails, because these pants are wind resistant to wick sweat from the body.

We also recommend the Sahara Guide Convertible Pants which easily interchange from shorts to pants.

3. Sun Shirts

What’s a sun shirt? It’s a longsleeve, lightweight layer with a hood! Oftentimes, sunshirts have SPF protection, called UPF. They are breathable and protect your skin from the harsh weather. 

We highly recommend the Sahara Shade Hoodie by REI if you are visiting Death Valley during the summertime! It’s inexpensive and comes in quite a few colors.

Another option is the Ibex Men’s Indie Hoodie. It’s quite a bit pricier, but it’s made of wool so it doesn’t stink, and will regulate your temperature. This is a great choice if you need to pack light, or are going on a long road trip between laundry days.

Death Valley Packing List - Wool Socks

4. Wool Socks

Why wool socks specifically? Wool socks wick the sweat off your feet, keeping them nice and dry even on sweaty hikes in Death Valley National Park. Our favorites are these thin ones from Darn Tough.

Also, we like to bring the socks with sandals trend to the desert. Don’t judge us too much. 🙂

5. Breathable Shoes or Boots

To keep the swamp feet at bay, consider adding a pair of breathable, sturdy shoes to your Death Valley National Park packing list. Our favorites for desert hiking are the Merrell Moab Mid 3 day hiking boots.

During your trip in the desert, you may find yourself hopping over rocks and walking across sand dunes. Despite popular belief, choose shoes with less traction, for more grip on those slippery sandstone surfaces! 

REI Trailsmith Fleece Jacket

6. Fleece Jacket

A fleece jacket is an excellent layer to add to your Death Valley National Park packing list. Despite hearing “desert=hot” all our lives, the nights can actually get really cold. Layering is essential!

Fleece is lightweight and paired with other layers, it keeps you warm during those cool mornings and evenings. The REI Trailsmith Fleece is a really affordable layering option, and comes in a lot of great colors too.

What to wear in Death Valley - Windbreaker

7. Windbreaker Jacket

Death Valley can get really windy, so you need to add a windbreaker to your packing list. Windbreakers will keep you warm even when the wind is whipping, which is quite often in the desert!

If you find rain in the forecast, (unlikely but not impossible!) you can double up on a windbreaker/rain jacket combo too, so you don’t have to pack two separate coats.

8. Hoodie

For everything from time of the road to time at camp, a cozy hoodie is a must! It’s important to have plenty of layers, even during summer in Death Valley National Park.

Accessories To Bring To Death Valley National Park

What To Bring To Death Valley - Hat

9. Sun Hat / Baseball Cap

While you may opt for a beanie in the colder months (especially mornings), the weather in Death Valley National Park has quite a bit of sunshine year-round!

Protect your skin and eyes from the harsh rays with a cute hat! Baseball caps are our favorite, simple accessory to add to any outfit. Basically, every brand under the sun has its own version, color, style, and patterns. Find your favorite and don’t forget to pack it in your bag!

10. Sunglasses

Along with a hat, sunglasses will protect your eyes from the harsh rays. 

We really like these ones from Goodr. They stay on your head even on strenuous hikes, even when trail running! They are inexpensive too, so you don’t have to cry if they break.

Goodr OGs Sunglasses

11. Warm Hat

Coming to Death Valley National Park in the late fall, winter, or early spring? The mornings are quite cold, so it’s important to bundle up!

We like to pack at least one or two beanies with us on our trips. They will keep you warm as you walk along the Zabriskie Point trail for sunrise, or if you’re sitting outside enjoying an evening sunset.

Road Trip Gifts - Expandable Packing Cubes

12. Packing Cubes

Staying organized on trips is really important to me! That’s why we highly recommend using packing cubes!

Using them, you can sort out your items by type (shirts, pants, underwear, etc) or by outfit. You can also use them to separate dirty shoes from clean clothes.

We also pack an empty packing cube on purpose, to use for dirty laundry. This way, they stay separate in your bag!

13. Hair Ties

Eastern California can get windy, especially on Death Valley National Park hikes that have cliffside views of the desert!

Pack a few extra hair ties in your bag so you never have to worry about your hair getting in your face.

14. Small Wallet / Waist Pack

Generally speaking, US National Parks are safe places. However, we don’t recommend leaving valuables in your car anywhere you park.

For comfort, pack a small waist pack to keep your important items at hand. (Keys, wallet, cash) If you don’t want your items visible, you can also opt to get a small neck wallet, and tuck it away under your jacket or in your shirt.

Read More: The 14 Best Fanny Packs For Hiking and Outdoor Adventure

15. Cash & Debit/Credit Card

You won’t find many opportunities to use credit cards or even cash around Death Valley National Park. It’s quite an isolated area! However, in small towns outside of Death Valley, you may encounter cash-only transactions, so come prepared with cash.

Pack both cash and cards in your wallet to prepare for any situation. ATMs are common in bigger California and Nevada cities like Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas.

16. Travel Insurance

As stated above, American national parks are generally safe places to travel. However, in today’s world, travel circumstances change so quickly! If you are concerned about your trip being interrupted, it’s a safe bet to purchase travel insurance.

Travel insurance can cover things like a health emergency, travel changes, and even more specifics if you want. This one is up to you and your comfort level. We recommend VisitorsCoverage. We use it when Berty’s parents come to visit us in the states. They have a wide range of plans from global visitors to residents!

Tech For Your Death Valley National Park Packing List

What To Bring to Death Valley - Camera

17. Camera

Some of the best California photography locations are located in Death Valley National Park!

It’s not necessary but definitely recommended to bring a camera. It doesn’t have to be a fancy one either – smartphones now take just as high quality images. We have an entire blog post dedicated to our most lucrative smartphone landscape photography tips!

Want To See Our Setup? Read Our Complete Travel Photography Gear List

18. Drop-Proof Phone Case

If you are planning to spend an extended amount of time around cliffs, rocks, or sandstone trails, it’s essential to keep your gear protected!

We can’t even count how many times our phone has dropped out of our pocket in the dirt or rolled away on the trail. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

19. Power Bank

Have you ever been stuck in an unfamiliar place with a dead phone? Trust us, it’s not fun! Especially in a place like Death Valley, where cell service is few and far between.

Pack a pocket-sized power bank and an extra phone charging cable. This way, you have power on hand when you need it.

20. Extra Cords or Chargers

Because Berty and I travel a lot, we’ve learned that outlets in hotels or vacation rentals aren’t always in the most convenient places!

This is why we bought 6ft phone charging cords on Amazon. When the only outlet is clear across the room, it’s a lifesaver!

Outdoor Gear To Bring To Death Valley National Park

Death Valley Packing List - Map

21. National Park Map

One of the most essential items you need to explore the park is a national park map!

The Death Valley maps can be easily acquired at the park entrance, or at the visitors center information booth. These mark out the major roads in the park, and popular hiking trials, campgrounds, and other interesting features. 

22. Southern California Plant Book

I’m a HUGE fan of identifying plants, especially when traveling! I’m constantly taking pictures of plants and looking them up in books later.

We especially love this one, but you could also download a plant ID app if you don’t want to pack any books. 

23. Retractable Hiking Poles

Gifts For Backpackers - Black Diamond Trekking Poles

Hiking poles are a great idea for hikes in Death Valley National Park that require a little more elevation or distance. They can easily fit in a suitcase and are made of super durable carbon fiber. 

With elevation changes, we love having that extra stability so we can spend time looking at the views instead of staring at our feet!

24. Paracord Bracelet

For peak preparedness, double up on emergency gear that’s also a fashion statement!

A Para cord bracelet that doubles as an emergency rope is great to have on slightly more challenging hiking trails. We never recommend getting too close to an edge, but if you do, you’ll be glad you had some rope!

25. Day Pack

Pack up all your hiking gear and snacks in a daypack. We like to choose one with comfortable shoulder straps and made of a water-resistant material. 

26. Sunscreen

Eastern California is no stranger to the sunshine!

Make sure to put some sunscreen on your Death Valley National Park packing list, especially if you are visiting in the summer months.

27. Bug Repellent

Mosquitoes are a nuisance in the summertime! This is especially true on nearby lakes, as still water is a breeding ground for these pesky insects.

Pack some bug spray for use in the mornings and evening (which is peak time for mosquitos).

28. Water Bottle

Being properly hydrated can be the difference between a bad trip and a great one! This is especially true in an extremely dry environment like Death Valley.

Pack a wide-mouth bottle for easy cleaning and filling on the go. Additionally, you could pack a water bladder, so you can have easy access to water on the hiking trails.

29. Snacks

Snacking is such a customizable thing – you can get as fancy or as cheap as you want!

Personally, we like to visit a local grocery store and pick up some seasonal fruit, nuts, or dried meats. Other times, we bring our own coffee and make Aeropress brew mid-hike if we’re going on a sunrise excursion. The choice is yours!

Read More: 15 Easy Hiking Snacks To Bring On The Trail

30. Headlamp

If you are planning any kind of early or late adventure, it’s important to add a headlamp to your Death Valley National Park packing list.

Death Valley National Park Packing List (By The Seasons)

In addition to all of the above items, here’s what to specifically pack for Death Valley National Park based on the seasons.

What To Pack For Winter in Death Valley National Park (Dec, Jan, Feb)

The desert can get quite cold…actually REALLY cold in the winter months. Death Valley National Park weather in winter average between the high 30s and mid 50s, which means layering is essential.

You’ll want to pack plenty of extra layers during this season and add these extras to your Death Valley packing list:

  • Gloves
  • Scarf
  • Insulated wind breaker
  • Long Underwear

What To Pack For Spring in Death Valley (March, April May)

Spring in Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular times to visit the park. This is because the weather is fair – it’s not too hot and not too cold! However, it’s also the season of flash flooding!

You’ll find that there will be a mix of sunny and cloudy days, and the occasional rainstorm, surprisingly. You can expect the mornings and evenings to be generally cold and the afternoons to be warm.

Here’s what we suggest adding to your packing list for Death Valley National Park in spring:

  • Camp blanket (our favorite is from Rumpl)
  • Lightweight Rain Jacket (for flash floods)
  • Reusable mug for hot coffee in the morning

What To Pack For Summer in Death Valley National Park (June, July, August, September)

Summer in Death Valley National Park is the hottest time to visit. Depending on the month, it’s not uncommon to see temperatures in the 100s, and even the 110s.

Heat stroke and heat exhaustion happen to many, so it’s very important to have a plant to stay cool and hydrated during your visit. 

Here’s what to add to your packing list for the summer in Death Valley to stay cool and safe. 

  • Cooler with ice and cold drinks
  • Double-walled vacuum sealed water bottle to keep cold drinks really cold.
  • A more powerful sun shade, like an umbrella or wide brimmed hat
  • Sweat-wicking layers
  • Water bladder for accessible water
  • Plenty of gas in your car!

What To Pack For Fall in Death Valley National Park (October, November)

Death Valley National Park in the fall is a unique and peaceful time of year. It’s also the season with little to no rain, which means the skies are clearer for more vivid sunsets. Expect to pack a few extra layers for some late evenings out. Think warm and cozy!

Add these to your packing list if you’re visiting Death Valley National Park in the fall:

  • Camp slippers (like these Tevas)
  • Tripod for long exposure shots
  • Extra warm Socks
  • Jean Jacket / Light Jackets

Do NOT add these items to your Death Valley National Park Packing List

So what should you NOT bring to Death Valley? Here are some things we suggest leaving at home and why:

Fancy Clothes

Death Valley National Park is a laid-back, outdoorsy, remote place. With notable exceptions for fancy dinner reservations, say, in Palm Springs (if you’re taking a longer Southern California road trip), nice clothes are not necessary. In fact, you’d probably stick out quite a bit!

Most people visiting Death Valley wear outdoor gear and practical hiking clothes.

Impractical or Uncomfortable shoes

A lot of activities in Death Valley National Park require moving around quite a bit. In and out of the car. If your shoes are uncomfortable, that’s going to affect nearly everything you do!

This isn’t the time to try out new shoes, so add a pair of tried and true hiking boots or shoes to your packing list.

White Clothing

Why white? Well the dust and sand here can easily stain white clothes! After a long hike on a dusty trail, your clothes won’t be white anymore.

Don’t bring any item of white clothing that is precious to you!

Let’s Wrap Up Your Death Valley National Park Packing List

We hope you enjoyed our take on what to pack for an Death Valley national Park trip! The desert is a fun and adventurous place. If you stick to the guidelines of active, and functional items for your packing list, you’ll be just fine!

Did we miss anything on our Death Valley National Park packing list? Have any additions to make? Leave them in the comments below!