How to Get to Death Valley: Closest Airports & Driving Directions

Are you planning a trip to Death Valley National Park? Are you trying to find the closest airports to this remote wilderness?

A visit to this wild and rugged spot takes a bit of planning, but the effort is absolutely worth it. This guide covers everything you need to know to choose which airport to fly into when visiting Death Valley. You’ll also learn how to get from the airport to Death Valley National Park, and what you absolutely need to know about driving in this rugged National Park.

Quick Look at the Closest Airports & How to Get to Death Valley

Want to cut to the chase? The closest (and best) airport for visiting Death Valley is Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport.

This chart shows the closest commercial airports to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley:

AirportDistance to Furnace Creek, Death ValleyDrive Time
Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) 120 Miles 2 Hours
Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMO) 200 Miles 3.5 Hours
Ontario International Airport (ONT)250 Miles 4 Hours
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)270 Miles 4.5 Hours
Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)290 Miles 5 Hours

Details on each of these airports and more details on how to get to Death Valley National Park are covered in-depth below.

Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley / Closest Airport to Death Valley

Where is Death Valley Located? 

Death Valley is remote. If there ever was a place that felt like the middle of nowhere – Death Valley is it.

Death Valley is located in eastern California, near the border of Nevada. It lies within the vast Mojave Desert, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The closest small towns to Death Valley, where you can find gas, some groceries, and the occasional motel are:

  • Beatty, Nevada: 45 Miles (50 Minutes)
  • Pahrump, Nevada: 60 Miles (1 Hour)
  • Lone Pine, California: 105 Miles (2 Hours)
  • Ridgecrest, California: 120 Miles (2 Hours)

The closest major cities to Death Valley are:

  • Las Vegas: 120 Miles / 2 Hours
  • Los Angeles: 270 Miles / 4.5 Hours

Most visitors to Death Valley will want to fly into one of those cities, rent a car, and drive into the Park.

Want to learn more about planning an epic National Parks trip? Grab my free Ultimate National Parks Planning Guide, including 70+ pages of National Park packing checklists, planning tips, and everything you need to know to start planning a trip to all 63 National Parks!

The Best Airports for Visiting Death Valley: Las Vegas & Los Angeles

Unless you already live or are traveling in the Southwest, most visitors to Death Valley will need to fly into one of the closest airports to Death Valley, rent a vehicle, and drive to the Park.

There are no shuttle buses or public transportation to Death Valley, so you will need your car (or a group tour) to visit most sites.

The two most common airports for people flying to Death Valley National Park are Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport in Nevada, and Los Angeles International Airport in California.

AirportDistance to Furnace Creek, Death ValleyDrive Time
Las Vegas Harry Reid International Airport (LAS) 120 Miles 2 Hours
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)270 Miles 4.5 Hours

Because of it’s close proximity, easy hotel options, and great rental car selection, I recommend flying into Las Vegas Airport when visiting Death Valley.

Zabriske Point / Closest Airport to Death Valley

Las Vegas – Harry Reid International Airport (LAS)

Las Vegas Airport aka Harry Reid International Airport, is the closest airport to Death Valley and my pick for the best airport to fly in and out of when visiting Death Valley National Park.

At 120 miles or 2 hours drive time, it’s even possible to visit Death Valley as a day trip from Las Vegas!

Flights here are usually cheap, there are tons of rental car options, plus a basically unlimited number of hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, REI, or anything else you need to pick up on your way to Death Valley.

If you’re planning on visiting more National Parks in the Southwest, like Zion and Bryce Canyon, or the Grand Canyon, you’ll be super conveniently located, and just a few hours drive from each.

Of course, you’ll also have an opportunity to cruise the strip, try a hand of blackjack, or take part in Vegas’s famous nightlife – if you’re into that sort of thing.

>> Click here to book your flight to Las Vegas

Distance: 120 Miles

Airlines: Alaska, Allegiant, American, Breeze, Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest, Spirit, Suncountry, United, Virgin, Volaris, and West Jeet, as well as multiple international carriers.

Rental Cars: Alamo, National, Enterprise, Dollar, Sixt, Thrifty, Payless, Budget, Avis, and Hertz.

the vast Badwater Basin and Panamint Mountains in the distance from Dante's View in Death Valley
Dante’s View / Closest Airports to Death Valley

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)

Los Angeles International Airport is a large international airport located in Los Angeles, California. LAX is conveniently located for anyone who also wants to visit LA. In fact, the airport is only 12 miles from Santa Monica beach.

>> Click here to book your flight to Los Angeles

As someone who frequently flies in and out of LAX, I will admit, this airport is a mess. It is huge, horribly organized, difficult to get between terminals, traffic is monstrous, and the whole place is constantly under construction. BUT, when it comes to price and convenience, LAX is usually the second best airport, after Las Vegas, for visiting Death Valley National Park and Southern California.

Distance: 270 Miles

Airlines: virtually every major airline and many international carriers. LAX is a hub airport for for Alaska, America, Delta, United, and Virgin Airlines, LAX is also a focus city for Allegiant, Air New Zealand, Qantas, Southwest, Spirit, and Volaris airlines.

Rental Car: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, Sixt, and Thrifty.

Closest Airports to Death Valley

More Airports Close to Death Valley

Mammoth Yosemite Airport (MMO)

Mammoth Yosemite Airport is technically the second closest commercial airport to Death Valley.

I say “technically” because Mammoth Yosemite Airport only has commercial flights on “semi-private” charter flights from Southern California, which are halfway between flying a private jet and regular commercial airlines.

The Mammoth Yosemite Airport is a small regional airport in the town of Mammoth Lakes. Mammoth a popular ski and mountain destination in the Eastern Sierras.

The lack of regular commercial flights means that Mammoth-Yosemite isn’t a popular option for flying into Death Valley for most visitors. Learn more about flying into Mammoth-Yosemite Airport, here.

>> Click here to book flights to Mammoth Yosemite Airport

Distance: 200 Miles

Airlines: Advanced Air “semi-private” charter flights

Rental Cars: Enterprise

Mesquite Sand Dunes / Closest Airports to Death Valley

Ontario International Airport (ONT)

Ontario Airport is a large airport located in Ontario, California, an inland suburb about 1 hour east of Los Angeles. If you are driving directly to Death Valley or other points in eastern California, Ontario is a convenient and (sometimes) cheaper option than flying into Los Angeles.

If you aren’t planning on spending time in Los Angeles during your trip, flying into Ontario also lets you skip the horrendous LA traffic.

>> Click here to book your flight to Ontario.

Ontario is located approximately 45 minutes from nearby Los Angeles and Anaheim, California (aka Disneyland).

Distance: 250 Miles

Airlines: Alaska, American, Avianca, China Airlines, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, Jet Blue, Southwest, and United.

Rental Cars: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Fox, Hertz, National, Payless and Thrifty.

Artists Palette in Death Valley / Closest Airport to Death Valley

Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)

Located in the desert resort town of Palm Springs, this small airport is conveniently located for anyone who also wants to visit Joshua Tree National Park on their trip.

Palms Springs International Airport is approximately 290 Miles, or a 5 Hours drive to Furnace Creek Visitor Center in Death Valley.

>> Click here to book your flight to Palm Springs.

Nearby destinations like Joshua Tree, Desert Hot Springs, Mt San Jacinto State Park, the San Bernardino National Forest, Indio Valley, and the Coachella Music Festival can be easily accessed from this airport.

Distance: 290 Miles

Airlines: Palm Springs Airport is served by Air Canada, Alaska, Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest, Sun Country, United and West Jet.

Rental Cars: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Thrifty, ACE, and G

golden hills and unpaved road of Twenty mule team canyon
Twenty Mule Team Canyon Road / Closest Airport to Death Valley

Flying Private Planes into Death Valley (Public Use Airports)

BYOP? Bringing your own plane? There are 2 public use airports inside Death Valley National Park.

Stovepipe Wells Airport, located in Stovepipe Wells, about 1/4 mile from the Resort, and Furnace Creek Airport, located near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

In either case, both runways are unattended, there are no rental cars or shuttles available, and no fuel available. Pilots can learn more about flying into Death Valley, here.

The Inyokern Airport in nearby Ridgecrest, California is also available as a public use airport for private and charter flights. Again, there are no rental cars available here, so you’ll need to arrange transportation to and from the Park.

Death Valley Entrance at Hell’s Gate / How to Get to Death Valley

Driving to Death Valley National Park

Death Valley Entrances

There are six paved road entrances to Death Valley National Park, and numerous unpaved backcountry road entrances.

There are 4 paved road entrances on the East Side of the Park (closest to Nevada), and 2 on the West Side (from California).

  • East Entrances:
    • CA 190 from Death Valley Junction, CA
    • SR 374 from Beatty, NV
    • CA 178 from Shoshone, CA
    • SR 267 from US 95, NV
  • West Entrances:
    • CA 190 from Olancha, CA (SR 136 from Lone Pine, CA)
    • SR 178 (Panamint Valley Rd) from Trona, CA

The main road East-West through the Park is CA 190. The main road running North-South through the Park is CA 178 / Badwater Road.

Driving to Death Valley from Las Vegas

The fastest way to the heart of Death Valley from Las Vegas is to take NV Highway 160 W towards Pahrump, Nevada. This is a small town with a few chain hotels if you aren’t staying inside the Park.

From Pahrump, drive 30 miles on Bell Vista Road until you enter California and reach Death Valley Junction and on to CA-190. From here, it’s about 30 miles to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

Via the Rhyolite Ghost Town

Want to explore a real old west ghost town? If you’re driving from Las Vegas with an extra hour to spare, you can take an alternate route into Death Valley that stops by the Rhyolite Ghost Town.

From Las Vegas, take I-95 North to the town of Beatty, Nevada. This is another small town with a few independent motels, gas stations, and convenience store. Follow CA Hwy 374 west, and don’t miss the paved turnoff road to the ghost town. From here, it’s a straight shot into the Park on Highway 374.

If you don’t want to drive or rent a car from Las Vegas, you can jump on to an organized tour that will take you from Las Vegas around to some of the highlights of Death Valley, and back in one day.

Badwater Basin on a trip to Death Valley from Los Angeles in 2023 / How to Get to Death Valley

Driving to Death Valley from Los Angeles

If you’re visiting Death Valley from Los Angeles and Southern California, the drive will take around 4-6 hours depending on that infamous LA traffic. After living in LA for more than a decade, trust me, try and leave as early as possible to avoid afternoon traffic.

There are 2 routes into Death Valley from LA. Both are about the same distance, so do a quick check of traffic conditions before heading out to decide.

To reach Death Valley from Los Angeles via Panamint Springs / CA 190 near Lone Pine, take I-405 N, then CA 14 N for 120 miles.

Along the way, you’ll pass Red Rock Canyon State Park, a worthwhile detour if you have time.

Proceed on US 395 N, then CA-178 N into the Park. Turn right at Panamint Springs onto CA 190 E for Furnace Creek.

On the way in through Panamint Springs you’ll pass 2 worthwhile detours: Darwin Falls, a 2 mile hike, and Father Crowley Vista Point. Read more about both of these stops in “More Things to Do In Death Valley” below.

For the southern route, take I-15 N through Cajon Pass and Mojave Desert for 200 miles. Follow CA-127 N through Shoshone to Death Valley Junction. Turn left onto CA Highway 190, reaching Furnace Creek Visitor Center in about 30 miles.

Driving to Death Valley from Joshua Tree National Park

Experience the ultimate California desert road trip by combining a trip to Joshua Tree National Park with Death Valley. You’ll need around 4-6 hours to drive between the two parks, depending on the route you take (and how many stops you make).

From the towns of Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, take CA-127 N for about 150 miles to the town of Barstow, California. There are plenty of fast food and large grocery stores here if you need to pick up any supplies.

From Barstow, take I-15 North, then CA-127 N at the Mojave National Preserve to Death Valley Junction before taking a left onto CA Highway 190. From here, it’s about 30 miles to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

How to Get to Death Valley

Getting Around Death Valley National Park

Once you arrive in Death Valley, expect to keep spending a lot of time in your car. Death Valley is massive, and it can sometimes take literally hours in between stops here. Luckily the views along the way are spectacular, and if you’re visiting during fall and spring when temperatures start to rise, you’ll be glad to be sitting in the cool AC.

There is no public transportation to or within the Park. There aren’t any shuttles or buses within Death Valley, so you’ll either need to bring your own vehicle, rent a 4×4 for off-road exploring, or take a guided tour.

Do not rely on GPS or Cell Service for directions in Death Valley.

You can pick up a helpful road map of Death Valley at the Visitor Center, or check out the online copy, here.

Road Conditions in Death Valley

An important thing to know is that there are a TON of backcountry and unpaved roads in Death Valley. Expect that you’ll have to spend at least a little time every day driving on one of these bumpy dirt roads to reach even the popular destinations.

A high-clearance 4×4 vehicle is not required for this 2 day Death Valley itinerary.

The following roads to popular spots are unpaved – but still passable for most passenger sedans:

  • Twenty Mule Team Canyon Scenic Drive
  • Salt Pool Road to Devils Golf Course
  • Mosaic Canyon Road

If you plan on visiting Racetrack Playa to see the famous sailing stones a high-clearance vehicle or 4×4 vehicle is recommended, depending on road conditions.

Didn’t bring a 4×4 vehicle? You can rent one from Farabee’s Jeeps at the Inn at Death Valley to explore DV’s backcountry and unpaved roads. They also offer Jeep tours.

Check with a ranger about current road conditions and discuss whether your vehicle can make the drive.

Both paved and unpaved roads are subject to flooding and damage during flash floods that occur in winter. In 2023, Death Valley suffered severe flooding due to Hurricane Hillary, damaging many of the Park’s roads and temporarily closing the entire Park.

Make sure to check road conditions before heading out to Death Valley. See current road conditions in Death Valley National Park, here.

Prepare for high gas prices in Death Valley! / How to Get to Death Valley

Gas Stations in Death Valley

Make sure to carefully monitor your gas tank and fill up whenever you can while driving to, from, and around Death Valley.

Gas Stations in this part of the country are few and far between, and an empty tank can be a disaster under the wrong conditions.

Unfortunately, gas is also hella expensive here. And yes, I’m saying that as someone who grew up in LA and routinely pays over $4 per gallon without thinking about it. When I visited Death Valley in March 2023, I paid $6.21 a gallon!

There are 3 gas stations in the park:

  • The Oasis at Death Valley, located next to the Furnace Creek Golf Course (gasoline and diesel)
  • Panamint Springs Resort (gasoline and diesel)
  • Stovepipe Wells Resort (gasoline only)

Tips for Getting to Death Valley National Park

Maps & GPS: There is NO cell service in most places in Death Valley. Don’t rely on your cell phone for directions in and around the Park. Make sure to bring an old-fashioned paper map, or a downloaded GPS map.

Check Road Conditions Before Leaving: It’s always important to be aware of road conditions, especially when driving in a remote location like Death Valley. Park roads close frequently due to flash floods, extreme heat, or winter weather. Make sure to check the official Death Valley National Park website for current road conditions and closures before you head out on your trip.

Plan Your Route Carefully: As mentioned earlier, gas stations are few and far between in this area. Plan your route carefully to make sure you have enough gas to get you where you need to go.

Drive Safely: The unpaved roads in Death Valley can be challenging, especially for those who are not used to desert driving conditions. Before driving on any unpaved roads in Death Valley, make sure that your vehicle is properly equipped to handle the road conditions. Many roads require a high-clearance, 4×4 drive, and the ability to self-rescue.

Extreme Heat Warning: Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth, where temperatures regularly exceed 120 degrees in the summer. This heat is no joke, and it does kill.

I always recommend bringing an extra gallon of water per person to store in your vehicle. Stay on paved roads in the summer, and if your car breaks down stay. with. your. vehicle. until help arrives.

Winter Conditions: Winter can also be extreme in Death Valley. Temperatures can drop below freezing, and snow is not uncommon on the roads over high passes.

Flash Floods. Even a little water in the desert can be deadly. Make sure to check the weather forecast and never drive through flooded roads.


In conclusion, whether you’re traveling by air or car, there are several good options available to reach Death Valley National Park from the nearest airports. Just make sure to gas up and drive carefully while exploring this epic National park!