Death Valley and Joshua Tree

Destination: Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks

| Activities: Hiking

A Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Park hiking tour is the perfect antidote to the winter blahs and one of the best warm winter vacations in the United States! In March the skies are clear and sunny (but not too hot!) and the hiking is excellent. In addition to unique ecology and engaging human history, there is fascinating geology that our guides will help us understand. This trip is whirlwind road trip through two spectacular California National Parks. We'll visit Rhyolite Ghost Town with its deserted ruins; see deserted mines; a saltwater river in the desert; a desert oasis home to the famous pupfish, hike at the lowest point in the whole US; along the rim of a volcano and through surreal geologic formations. If you long to put away your down jacket and put on your shorts, feel warm sun on your deprived skin, and be totally immersed in a place that has a mystic status for many of us. By the end of the trip, you'll have higher Vitamin D levels and a whole new appreciation of this unique landscape. Maximum group size: 12


  • Learning all about the fascinating geology, flora and fauna of Death Valley & Joshua Tree NP
  • Visiting both a low and high desert National Park
  • Hiking across badlands, through canyons, around an old volcano and through ancient rock formations
  • Stargazing in one of the darkest skies you'll ever see
  • Visiting a ghost town, desert oasis, abandoned mines and enjoying the company of other like-minded travelers

Departures and Prices

November 06 to November 13, 2024
$4495.00 - Available
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  • 1 - 2 experienced AGC guides based on group size
  • Seven nights of double occupancy accommodation
  • All meals from dinner as outlined on the itinerary
  • Transportation from Las Vegas to Death Valley, Death Valley to Joshua Tree and transportation to Palm Springs hotel
  • National Park entry fees
Not included: travel to Las Vegas or from Palm Springs airports, travel to the hotel at the beginning of the trip or to the Palm Springs airport at the end of the trip, travel insurance, alcoholic beverages and guide gratuities

Trip Documents

Trip Info

This trip is designed for any active woman who wants to explore Death Valley. This is an excellent trip for novice hikers: the hikes, while providing both variety and challenge, are moderate in length, and the guides will provide tips and instruction so that by the end you will be a confident hiker. A rating of 2 is suitable for any woman who regularly walks at a brisk pace 3 to 4 days a week for 35 - 45 minutes. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5.

On this trip we combine hiking with learning about the unique geology and fascinating human history of the area. In addition to hiking, you'll explore the very different geology of Golden Canyon, Ubehebe Crater, Skull Rock, Wonderland of Rocks and 49 Palms. A visit to Rhyolite, Barker Dam, Hidden Valley will give you insight into the human drama and mining history of Death Valley.

We'll start with one night at a hotel in Las Vegas and then spend three nights at Oasis at Death Valley.

NEW FOR 2024 we will be staying at the brand new Death Valley Inn Casitas. The Inn’s recent multi-million dollar restoration has brought new life and energy to the historic property. Located in the shadow of the Oasis Gardens’ date palms, the Inn’s Casitas offer unparalleled privacy and luxury within easy walking distance of the Inn pool. Each spacious Casita is over 500 square feet and comes with a complimentary golf cart for guests to use to get around the property; two queen beds, air conditioning, hair dryers, in-room coffee makers, TV, phone, full private bath and mini refrigerator.

When we visit Joshua Tree we will stay at the historic 29 Palms Inn, located on a 9,000 year old oasis surrounded by the Mojave Desert. We will stay in wood framed adobe cabins each with a unique configuration. We'll spread out over the grounds here, with most participants getting their own rooms and own bathroom. All rooms will have beautiful desert views. On the last night of the trip we will stay in Palm Springs at a hotel with easy access to the airport.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

Spring is an excellent time for hiking, with temperatures in the high 70s. The following itinerary may be adjusted because of weather, availability of ranger talks, group wishes, etc. Our trip starts today in Las Vegas. Arrive any time before 5 PM. Catch a convenient shuttle (not a hotel shuttle), cab or Uber to our hotel, where we will meet at 5:30 PM. We'll start getting to know each other and review our plans for the trip, before sharing our first dinner. The evening is free for you to get to bed early or wander the strip. (D)
Today we will make our way to Death Valley National Park, a drive that takes about 2.5 hours. Death Valley and Joshua Tree are all about water the overabundance and lack thereof! Our first stop will be Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, the largest oasis in the Mojave Desert. A biodiversity hot spot and home to 30 endemic species include the famous pupfish. After our picnic lunch we will continue to Rhyolite Ghost town, a collection of the remnants of a boom-and-bust mining town. It will be hard to believe that the town had over 3,500 inhabitants at one time. After leaving Rhyolite we will stop at “Hells Gate” and you will get your first glimpse of Death Valley and its amazing geology. We will head to the Ranch at Death Valley, where we spend the next three nights. Overnight Ranch at Death Valley (B, L, D)
This morning we hike the Golden Canyon-Gower Gulch Loop. This 4.5-mile loop trail first takes us through colorful Golden Canyon and then up and over a ridge, passing beneath Manley Beacon. (Named after William Manly who lead a group of ill-fated prospectors out of Death Valley during the 1849 Gold Rush.) The trail then drops into Gower Gulch, another canyon but with a completely different feel and footing than Golden Canyon. The loop ends with a traverse along the base of the cliffs (an alluvial fan) that rise abruptly from the flatter plain below. If you want some time on your own during this trip, the rest of the afternoon is free for you to do as you choose, perhaps enjoying the thermally heated pool or seeing the Visitor's Center. Alternatively, we will head to the Harmony Borax Works to learn about borax mining in Death Valley. Lots of good choices! We will meet again in the late afternoon for a trip to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. Overnight Oasis at Death Valley Ranch. (B, L, D).
Death Valley is a huge park, a fact we will appreciate more fully after today. We'll begin our day a bit earlier to make sure we have time for everything! After driving an hour into the northern part of the Park, our first stop will be the 600-foot deep Ubehebe Crater, the remnants of a massive maar volcanic explosion 300 years ago. We will hike along the west rim of the Crater to Little Hebe, before continuing around the rim for a total of 1.5 miles. On the way back, we will have a desert picnic and stopping at the Salt Creek Interpretative Trail. An easy boardwalk takes us to the Creek, a stream of salty water that is the habitat for cold water pupfish, cousins of the Ash Meadows pupfish. Returning to the ranch before heading out to in the late afternoon for to the Mesquite sand dunes. The late afternoon setting sun adds to the beauty of the dunes. (B, L, D)
Today we load up for the drive to Joshua Tree National Park. It’s a long drive (over 4 hours) but full of desert beauty and stop along the way to break it up. We will say goodbye to Death Valley from Zabriskie Point which overlooks the valley and one of our hiking trails. Continuing on to the Mojave National Preserve, we'll stop in Kelso at the Kelso Depot Visitor Center to learn about the once thriving railroad depot. We then continue to Joshua Tree National Park and stop by the Oasis of Mara visitor’s center before heading into the park and our first hike in the park. (B, L, D)
Joshua Tree has a rich geological and human history. Designated as a national monument in 1936 and a national park in 1994, it straddles the California Mojave and Colorado deserts with their diverse ecosystems. Ranging from 3,000 to 5,185 feet above sea level, the park is both higher and generally cooler than Death Valley. It is also home to the bizarrely shaped Joshua Tree and is a playground for climbers and hikers alike. We will begin a full day in Joshua Tree National Park by hiking the Split Rock Trail and Skull Rock Trails. The Split Rock Trail is approximately 3.5 miles of diverse terrain, taking us through rock formations, sandy wash, and rolling desert landscapes. We will combine it with the Skull Rock trail to the aptly named rock formation, Skull Rock trail. For our lunch spot we'll head to the Hidden Valley area with a chance to explore the valley that was used to hide purloined cattle. After lunch we hike to Barkers Dam Loop or The Wall Street Mill hike to see remnants of the human history of Joshua Tree. (B, L, D)
Our visit to Joshua Tree has been quick but we do not want to leave without visiting the 49 Palms Oasis. The 3-mile trail ascends a 300-foot ridge before dropping back down to the desert oasis. Along the landscape is dotted with the barrel cacti and spring flowers (hopefully). We will stop for our picnic lunch at the oasis before returning on the same path. If energy and time permits, we will stop at the western section of the park for a hike in the Black Rock area. We sadly leave Joshua Tree National Park behind as we head to Palm Springs. We will spend our last night in Palm Springs CA. (B, L, D)
You are free to leave at anytime today or stay and enjoy Palm Springs! The airport is a 10 minute taxi ride away from the hotel. (B)


(28 reviews)
4.2 Food
4.5 Lodging
4.7 Safety

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "What made this trip special for you?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

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Most Recent

Renae G.
1 year ago

Great guides and fellow travelers; experiencing extreme winter weather in the desert...

Michelle M.
1 year ago

The weather interfered to some degree. The guides were great and did their best to adjust and the trip was overall very good. It is unique to be able to say that I spent winter in Death Valley. I enjoyed the group of women. Joshua Tree was beautiful and the weather was better. Loved the hikes.

Trudy M.
1 year ago

Jodi G.
1 year ago

Wonderful guides and many new friends.

Janet S.
1 year ago

The women I met on this trip were a great group of women. The landscapes I hiked through were spectacular.

Kathleen G.
1 year ago

The guides and their ability to make adjustments as needed throughout unexpected weather conditions. The layout for each day and the other participants.

Felicia F.
2 years ago

The only reason I did not give it an excellent had nothing to do with AGC, the weather was very cold and effected how I felt about the vacation (trying to get away from cold Ohio). And it meant that once the sun went down, it was too cold to enjoy any outside walking or being outside, again nothing that AGC can control.

Carol M.
2 years ago

Frederique O.
2 years ago

Besides all the basic needs being met and the beauty of the area, what made this trip special to me was the leadership. Both guides were full of knowledge of the area, their enthusiasm for the area and all the sights were contagious. Most of all it was very evident that they like each other, they worked well together and that made the trip fun for myself.

Jacquelyn D.
2 years ago

Heather K.
2 years ago

Guide, other participants and food

Jane R.
2 years ago

Great leaders. Just right amount of hiking. Perfect weather!

Ann C.
2 years ago

Our guides were great and everything was handled very professionally and efficiently. I enjoyed the variety of the activities during each day and from day-to-day. Whoever heard of an opera house in the desert? Crazy.

Linda K.
2 years ago

I thought both guides were top notch. The hikes and accommodations were great. Also, I like exploring areas I have never visited before.

Anne T.
3 years ago

Paula K.
3 years ago

Everything on the itinerary we did

Susan H.
3 years ago

Tracy H.
3 years ago

Shellee P.
3 years ago

Ellen F.
4 years ago

The trip was a well curated way to get to experience the highlights of two very large national parks. The long drives were broken up with stops that were quirky and entertaining. The guides, Debra & Chris, were wonderful -- cheerful, fun, informative and always working hard to ensure everyone had a good experience.

Antoinette K.
4 years ago

Again 4.5

Barbara B.
4 years ago

Sue W.
4 years ago

The description and rating were appropriate

Janet F.
4 years ago

I wish we would have had more time at Bad Water Basin. I liked the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, but maybe we could have missed that in order to spend more time at Bad Water Basin. So many highlights: Ubehebe Crater hike, Bad Water Basin, seeing the Joshua trees, 49 Palms Oasis hike, Golden Canyon hike, sunrise at Zabriskie Point, Mesquite Sand Dunes

Susan W.
4 years ago

Loved Death Valley, Joshua Tree not so much. Guides were knowledgeable and informative. Since I had trouble keeping up, Chris or Debra did stay behind with me. I really appreciated knowing I was as valuable to them as the other hikers.

Kathryn B.
4 years ago

I liked doing a number of hikes every day and breaking up the driving with stops to hike, enjoy visitor centers, eat lunch, etc. I'm pleased with how much of the area we saw and hiked. Our group was top notch, with everyone interacting with everyone else and enjoying each others company. Excellent experience.

Barbara M.
4 years ago

The well organized leadership, the diversity of hikes, the effort of AGC trip leaders to meet all participants needs as they arose during the trip.

Jennifer M.
4 years ago

I have been taking a winter hiking trip in the Southwest for four years now, different trip each time. I always enjoy getting out of the gray winter days in the Ohio River Valley. The women on the trip were nice and fun, the hiking was interesting, the road trip days included very interesting stops. I really loved getting to see Furnace Creek and the Inn at 29 Palms. Often I feel better and stronger each day of a trip (effect of more sunlight, or a training effect, I don't know) and that was the case this time.

  1. Where do we eat?

    Breakfasts and dinners will be in restaurants where you can order off the menu. Lunches will either be packed lunches (guides will put out lunch fixings in the morning) or picnic style.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    We can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-intolerant although we can not guarantee a completely gluten-free diet, if we know well in advance. If you’re severely allergic or if you have other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register. If you’re vegan, you may want to bring some additional protein bars.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we’ll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.