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  1. After a quick visit this Christmas, I'm reminded to tell people that there is NO FOOD available in the park! My family ("...there has to be a cafeteria or something somewhere in there.") was a bit annoyed at the outset that I kept harping about bringing everything we would want to eat/drink (though you can fill up with water at a couple BUT NOT ALL of the visitor centers), and to be prepared to stay in the main part of the park all day long once we entered ("...we'll just drive to 29 Palms and grab some food for lunch"), but were quite happy once we were there and they understood. It takes a while to drive through the park, even just the upper loop (29 Palms to Joshua Tree), so planning to drive out for a meal and come back in is really, really inefficient. So plan ahead and enjoy! Even if you don't plan to rock-climb formally (there are tons of local outfits that will take you out for a few hours), if you like rock-scrambling, this is the park for you! The rock piles and cliffs by the Indian Cove area are phenomenal for scrambling and easy climbs (look carefully at just about every pile/face and you'll see a climber or a whole climbing class) and extremely accessible (it's only a 5-minute drive in, compared with entering the main portion of the park, so this is a part of the park you could visit briefly to climb/play/walk the nature trail and grab food somewhere on highway 62. Also, there is no pay station to enter this portion of the park.). Hidden Valley inside the park has a nice, flat, 1-mile loop that contains many tall rock piles and walls particularly begging to be climbed.
  2. Thoughts on visiting Death Valley National Park (about a 5-hour drive from LA and 2.5-hour drive from Las Vegas) from a recent conversation: --- On the wildflower "Superbloom": According to the NPS webpage, the wildflower season goes from early spring through the summer, moving from low to high elevation. Will it still be the "superbloom" [in March] or just have some nice flowers here and there, I have no idea. I would call the park ASAP before you make any plans and see what they think. I do know that the flower peak where I live in SoCal does not last more than a couple weeks, and the superbloom is already into at least week 1 or 2, but I live at a specific elevation, so there might still be a superbloom somewhere in the park when you want to come. The park has a nice report and a video here: "Wildflower Update 2016" on nps.gov and I found this nifty website that has a lot of info you would be interested in: "Death Valley NP - Wildflower Reports" on desertusa.com Maybe contact those folks and see what they think about your proposed timeline? They also have some tips on where specifically to go for shooting flowers. --- On where to stay: Finally, if you do get to come out, and I hope you do, stay in the park if you possibly can. It's a HUGE park, the biggest by area in the continental US, I believe, and it takes forever to drive in and out. If you're coming for a short trip, it's worth it to stay at one of the places inside the park: "Death Valley Lodging" on nps.gov The only time I've been we camped, so I can't offer any insights about the specific lodgings. If you have a tent and are willing to fly with it, car camping was super easy, cheap, and I'd highly recommend it. Impressions wise, I think there are more places to stay coming in from the East (Vegas) side of the park rather than the West. --- On being a Dark Sky Park: If you can't sleep in the park, stay in the park at least one night as late as possible. As a Dark Sky Park, the nighttime sky view is one of the best in the country, even better than Joshua Tree!!! We did one of the nighttime ranger talks which was mostly kid-oriented and a little cheesy, but it was fun looking out at the stars in a group for a while (before wandering off to do our own thing). --- On the Star Wars tour (it was a shooting location for the originals): Oh, by the way, in case you are a Star Wars fan: "Star Wars in Death Valley" on panamintcity.com I didn't find this site until we got home from our trip and we were so glad that we hit a few of the locations by accident.
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