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Bike through forty thousand acres of raw beauty and red Aztec sandstone. Ride the Mojave Desert's Valley of Fire - Nevada's oldest state park, dotted with petrified trees and 2,000-year-old petroglyphs. Then head to Death Valley - the country's largest national Park - for four more days of riding and hiking through Southwest desert wonderlands. Painted badlands, eerie landscapes and Old West history make for an unforgettable journey.
National Parks on this tour: Death Valley National Park
Meet in Las Vegas (or at Lake Las Vegas, if you're coming in early). Shuttle out to Valley of Fire. Ride Nevada's oldest state park, a spectacular canyon of red and gold.
Meet in Las Vegas (or, if you're coming in early, at the Westin Lake Las Vegas an hour outside town.) Hop in the van for the shuttle to Valley of Fire Highway into Nevada's oldest and biggest state park. Ride a road that is one of those gorgeous surprises parked in the middle of nowhere. Glowing red-gold Aztec sandstone is highlighted with 3,000-year-old Anasazi petroglyphs, ancient trees, beaver tail and cholla cacti. Roadtrippers says, "...it will have you reaching for the camera at every turn." Springtime is ablaze with desert marigold, indigo bush, and desert mallow. Watch for mountain goats and bighorn sheep! Enjoy your room at the Westin Lake Las Vegas tonight. Ride: 37.9 miles to the turnaround point, or 75.8 out-and-back.
Head to Death Valley National Park. Check out Rhyolite, then ride over Daylight Pass with a 26-mile downhill to Stovepipe Wells.
Transfer to Death Valley National Park this morning. Pedal from the ghost town of Rhyolite on the park's eastern edge up to Daylight Pass. The view from the summit (4,317 feet) captures Death Valley in microcosm: sun-blanched, desolate and vast. Cruise a 26-mile downhill into Stovepipe Wells - named for the length of stovepipe that was inserted into the sand dunes so parched travelers would be able to access the region's lone water source when it was otherwise covered by shifting sands. Spend the next 3 nights at the Oasis at Death Valley. Enjoy the pool! Route: 37.8 mi; +1150 ft / -5049 ft
Hike through Golden Canyon to Zabriskie Point. Ride to Badwater for lunch, then take on a loop to Artists Palette.
Hike Golden Canyon this morning, a 3-mile stroll along a path lined with massive boulders and pastel-hued dunes. Finish at Zabriskie Point, one of Death Valley's most famous viewpoints. Its maze of crazily eroded, painted badlands makes a great photo spot. Snap a few, then ride to Badwater Basin for lunch at the lowest point on the continent: 282 feet below sea level! If you're up for a challenge, tackle a 7% grade for 3 miles, uphill to Artist's Palette. Here, oxidation in the metals contained in the rock paints the hills in an amazing rainbow of hues. If you'd prefer to relax, hop in the van and head back to Stovepipe for a drink and a splash in the pool.
Ride to the moonscape of Ubehebe Crater. Hike the rim, then ride to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.
The Ubehebe ("yoo-bee-hee-bee") Crater is a 600-foot-deep crater that was created when hot magma met the groundwater in this region - creating a giant bubble of steam and gas that exploded from the earth. Bike here this morning. Hike the mile and a half around the crater's rim, then it's back on the bicycle to ride to the Mesquite Flat Dunes on the cracked clay of an ancient lake bed.
Ride to Dante's View for a spectacular panoramic view back over Death Valley.
Ride to Dante's View. Perched 5500 feet above Badwater Basin, take in a panoramic eagle-eye view of the Black Mountains and the gigantic valley you've been riding and hiking through all week. See if you can spot the tiny specks of people strolling the salt flats below. Snap one last photo. Then hop into the van and head back to the Oasis for a shower before shuttling back to Vegas.
As an optional extra, a person traveling solo on any inn-to-inn trip may reserve a room for his or her exclusive use. This will guarantee you a private room and private bath every night. Unlike other tour companies, if you're willing to share a room, there is no extra charge for coming solo, no matter when you sign up for the tour - even if you wind up with a private room by default.