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A Great Place

When should you visit very special and unique places in the world that touch you? Places with an atmosphere you can’t describe or where you even get overwhelmed with emotion.

The Great Ocean Road is one of the most beautiful drives on our planet throughout the year. Nevertheless, to experience this awesome drive with a sunny blue-sky summer is the best time of the year, followed by spring and autumn. In contrast, crowds are the lowest during winter.

Weather and Crowds by Seasons

12 Apostles crowds during midday

We’d been here several times already in different seasons. Summer is a fantastic time for the entire Great Ocean Road, but we prefer spring and autumn. There is less traffic, therefore, parking lots at the different main attractions are not overflowing and crowds are bearable. Temps vary depending on where you are along the Great Ocean Road. Exposed cliffs are colder than sheltered bays. Continue reading for our seasonal guide and figure out your best time for this magnificent Ocean Road Trip.

Spring (September - November)

Erskine Fall and River Trail in Spring - Lorne

That’s my favourite season in Victoria. Forests are vivid with the bird sound around. Waterfalls are still picturesque. Days are getting longer, and rain decreases. Day temps are on average between 12-15°C but can climb to almost 20°C. There is more traffic on the Great Ocean Road now but still bearable.

Summer (December - February)

Apollo Bay beach in summer

Usually, the weather is fantastic however, showers can occur now and then. It’s not too hot, always a breeze from the sea. Nevertheless, crowds are the worst, especially in the Christmas summer holidays. Most of the Australian go on vacation. Hotels and campgrounds as well are fully booked months in advance. If your journey along the Great Ocean Road is planned in December or January, you can dodge the crowds early morning only. To enjoy some of the most beautiful places with few people only; check out our hidden gems along the Great Ocean Road.

Autumn (March - May)

Gable Lookout - Great Ocean Road

The crowds thin out a little. Day temps are on average around 18°C though in the rainforest, it’s a little cooler. Stronger winds occur at the sea, and a wind-jacket is necessary. Night temps can drop below 10°C. The weather is often pleasant in March and April although rain increases a little. May experiences already more precipitation. It doesn’t mean it rains all day, but it can happen.

Winter (June - August)

Lorne Queenscliff Coastal Reserve - Great Ocean Road

If you don’t mind the cold and rain from time to time, this is the best time to enjoy this exceptional drive and sights with viewer people. The climate in Victoria is mild with day temps around 10°C and higher. This time of the year is awesome for hikes through the rainforest. Waterfalls are on their highest level, and rainforests sparkle in lush green.

Whale Sightings During Winter

Southern Right Whales migrate along the coast and to Logans Beach at Warrnambool, the very end of the Great Ocean Road. They come here annually from June to September for calving.

AU Australia

The best time to visit Milford Sound without the crowds and enough daylight is on a morning cruise tour around 10 am. The best season is autumn as temps are mild (9-14°C). To experience this wet place with a sunny blue sky, you must monitor the weather forecast a couple of days before you visit.

Milford Sound is just mesmerizing and also one of the wettest regions on earth with up to 9 meters of rain each year. It's one of the most visited places in South New Zealand. Depending on the season you plan to come, we provide you with lots of useful tips. Continue reading to get the insights we got told by local rangers or get answers to your questions by using our quick navigation (most popular are the 7 Must-Know Tips):

  1. Essential Cruise Tour Tips
  2. Driving Tips from Te Anau
  3. Monthly Weather & Crowds | Best Times
  4. Hotel Booking Tips
  5. Scenic Flight & More Cruise Tours
  6. 7 Must-Know Tips Before You Visit
  7. A Perfect Day | Milford Itinerary
  8. Hikes and Walks

 

Milford experiences a minimum of 200 days of rain, 7 meters of rain on average each year. One of the few places where rainfall is measured in meters. Usually, it rains 2 days in 3. In 2017 the precipitation was even 9 meters, and on the opposite, the summer in 2018 was pretty dry even accompanied by forest fires. Nevertheless, rain occurs quite often throughout the year. With a high amount of rainfall, the fjord is full of awesome temporary waterfalls, and the existing ones are at its peak. It’s spectacular when waterfalls thunder down from the cliffs.

Milford Sound - Waterfall after rainfall

We wanted to experience the sound on a clear day, and we did. We just monitored the weather forecast and booked our tour just two days before. We drove 10 hours from Christchurch to Te Anau and another two for the 120 km from Te Anau the next morning before sunrise. 

 
Essential Cruise Tour Tips (Crowds & Booking)

Crowds at Milford at midday

Milford is the most popular place in New Zealand with more than 500.000 visitors each year. If you like to go on a cruise at midday advanced booking is recommended. These tours are frequently fully booked, that's why you must book these in advance, regardless of the season!  During peak season, every tour should be pre-booked. In shoulder and  low season, you may book the early morning and afternoon tours on the spot, as they are less crowded.  Our favorite cruise is this one: Milford Sound Nature Cruise. To make sure you get on a cruise we recommend, book at least one or two days before. There are different tours being offered at different times. The first starts around 8.30 am, but at this time of the day, there is still not enough light for taking a good picture in the sound. It improves a lot an hour later. However, you should always arrive early at Milford Sound. Why? Read on below:


How to Get to Milford Sound (With Tips for the Drive)

Homer Tunnel to Milford Sound
Homer Tunnel

You should (or must) drive from Te Anau to Milford Sound: Google Maps - Te Anau <> Milford Sound. It's one of the most gorgeous drives we've done! Start early and arrive around 8 latest 8.30 am at Milford Sound parking from December to March. This ensures you don’t need to park far away and have to take the shuttle to get close. The shuttle is offered at the busiest time of the year only. The two different parking areas fill up soon.

Milford Bus and Car Parking

It takes about 1 hour 45 minutes from Te Anau very early in the morning.  If you start later schedule two hours minimum for the drive plus half an hour for the shuttle. The sunrise in the morning and later the sunset on the way back were breath-taking. Keep in mind there isn’t any gas station or fuel stop along the Milford road just an un-manned in Milford. Between May and November, snow chains are required. The Homer Tunnel at an altitude of 945 m above sea level is just one narrow single lane, 1.2 km long, and traffic is controlled by a traffic light.

 
Milford Sound Weather & Crowds (Seasons/Months)

Read our detailed Milford Sound weather guide for every season and month below. We also included information about peak tourist times with possible crowds and less busy periods. 

Spring (September/October - November)

Milford Sound in Spring

It’s still chilly in the night, but days tend to be warmer and longer. It’s the shoulder season, less crowded and overrun. There are hundreds of waterfalls gush down from rocky cliffs due to the spring rain and the melting snow. The countryside is covered with wildflowers. In November and December, the rata and the pohutukawa trees are in full bloom. These trees are also called Christmas trees. Mountains are still snow-capped. The Fiordland Crested Penguin can be seen until November or December by the latest raising the cheeks.

Summer (December - February)

Milford Sound during summer rain

December and January have the highest amount of precipitation but these months are also the warmest and busiest. The average temp is almost 20°C, and it can increase up to 28°C. In turns of sun and rain, the humidity is quite high. The Christmas Trees are in bloom until December. A shuttle service from the overflow parking is offered from December to March.

Autumn (March-April)

Milford Sound during the beginning of Fall

Crowds thin a little bit out and the shoulder season starts around mid-March. There are still many hours of daylight. The temps may be still close to 20°C at daytime. Nights become already chilly. It's the best time of the year for hiking. Waterfalls are not at their peak. There is a slightly higher chance to experience Milford on a clear day as we did at the end of March.

Winter (May - August/September) 

Milford Sound during winter

That's the low season, and it’s less busy. Snow is common on the road to the Milford Sound, especially in higher altitudes. This makes the mountains even more photogenic. Seals and especially penguins are more active during colder temps. The Fjordland crested penguin comes to the same beach for mating each year. They lay their eggs in August and cheeks fled between November and December. The downside the road to the sound can be closed due to avalanche warnings although the roads are accessible. Often the rangers get asked for the reason for closing the way. There is a team monitoring the mountains and snowfields if they ascertain a high risk for an avalanche the only route to the sound can be closed for days. Hiking isn't possible everywhere. Avalanche-prone bridges get removed to prevent destroying by flooding or debris avalanches. The average daily temp is around 4°C. This makes the cruises pretty cold outside on the deck. Most of the ships offer indoor and outdoor seating and viewing area.

NZ New Zealand

The 12 Apostles is one of Australia's most iconic attraction and an amazing year-round destination. However, summer and even shoulder seasons often bring heavy crowds. Our article covers everything you should know before you go. Make sure to read our 7 Must-Do Things almost at the end of this guide. 

 

Read our tips about the best time to visit:

Seasons (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter)

12 Apostles crowded during midday

While weather conditions don't vary heavily throughout the year, the tourist crowds definitely fluctuate. Thus, spring and autumn are the best time. It's frequently windy along the coast; bring a wind jacket the entire year. Rain can occur but the wettest time is the winter until September.

Spring (September - November)

Great Ocean Road - Erskine Falls

It's getting warmer but also crowded again. Day temps are pleasant between 16°-20°C. It's cooler in the morning and evening. Expect a packed place from around 10 am onwards, even worse when the tour buses arrive around 12. However, it won't change anything of this spectacular view to the limestone pillars. The water temp though is cold around 15°C. During spring break most of the accommodations are fully booked.

Summer (December - February)

Shipwreck Walk is leading down to Loch Ard - pic from summer

Best conditions with usually dry and clear weather. Temps can climb up to almost 30°C but usually, they stay around 22°C. It's the peak season and the rates are at their highest (book well in advance for a nearby hotel). 12 Apostles are overrun with visitors during the day. However, come early or late in the day and enjoy the special atmosphere. Even though it is summer, it's not that hot because of the breeze from the sea. Water temps are 18°C maximum. That's still pretty cold.

Autumn (March - May)

Great Ocean Road London Bridge in autumn

Fewer visitors but still very busy. Even more so during the Easter holiday and on weekends. Midday is the worst time of the day but it doesn't change too much of this awesome scenery. The 12 Apostles view is the busiest, the Grotto or London Bridge are less crowded. The weather gets a little cooler. Temps can drop below 20°C, the morning and evening temps are around 10°C only.

Winter (June - August)

12 Apostles are less busy during winter

The best months if you'd like to enjoy a quieter visit. However, it can still be busy at weekends. Excellent months for taking photos from the large viewing platform without hundreds of others pushing each other shoulder to shoulder. The downside is the weather: While definitely not freezing, it's cooler and the most rainfall occurs in winter. The advantage you may get fantastic shots with towering clouds in the back.

Time of Day and Tips for Photographer

12 Apostles during sunset

During summer and in the shoulder seasons the place is usually utterly crowded. In summer, we arrived after midday and got the feeling there were at least a thousand people from many different countries. It was a little difficult to enjoy the scenery with many people next to us taking pictures or being asked to take photos of them. Usually, I appreciate taking pics for others but even while we ate our sandwich I got asked. We learnt our lesson and visited the 12 Apostles two years later in spring during the morning. For this reason, come early or late in the day to dodge the crowds. The pro the light in the morning and the sunset are the best time of the day for magical shots from one of the most famous sights around the world. We know it's hard, but get up very early and try to be there at sunrise: Sunrise / Sunset Times Princetown

 
Weather

In general, the Southern Ocean has a strong influence on the climate. It keeps the winter warmer and the summer cooler. In summer the sun is extreme, but it is not too hot always a fresh breeze. Most stable weather in summer from January to March. Most precipitation in winter from June to September. Be prepared for extremely windy conditions.


Don't miss out our entire Great Ocean Road Guide - 3 Days Itinerary - Top Tips - Where to Stay

Great Ocean Road Outlook

 

AU Australia

It's a year-round destination, even beautiful in winter! Best weather with pleasant temperatures from May to September. However, it gets busy in the peak summer months. During the winter months it's much quieter.

Avoiding Tourist Crowds

Season/Months: If you want to dodge the crowds, don't go in July/August and try to avoid weekends in general. The high season starts mid-June with many tourists visiting the place. It usually gets very crowded in the summer. While it's quieter in the winter, crowds are attracted during Christmas and New Years celebrations. April/May and September/October are great months with a pretty good chance of nice weather and fewer tourists than in summer. Very quiet months (besides Christmas and New Years Eve) are November until February. It can get cold with snow, especially in January. However, winter is a great time to enjoy this place since it's super quiet.

Time of Day: If you visit in the summer, you can avoid the crowds by starting your activities early in the day. For example, visit the iconic Bled Castle first thing in the morning: It opens at 8 AM. It starts to get really crowded around 10 AM. The next morning you could rent a boat and row to Bled Island. Again, if you do this early, you'll dodge the crowds and enjoy a peaceful lake and island. Special tip: When it gets insanely crowded later in the day, wander around Lake Bled, and you'll find at least some spots of solitude. Another idea is to hike a strenuous or longer trail. Most visitors do the short walks only.

Rough weather overview: Lake Bled Climate Information. Detailed Weather: Monthly Weather

 

SI Slovenia

The best time to visit Antelope Canyon is either in peak season or low season: The light beams only occur around midday in high season from mid-March until mid-October. However, it gets extremely busy during that time. It’s quieter in low season from November to February but with no light beams.

For more useful details and tons of Antelope Canyon tips, read this complete guide. Use the quick navigation / table of contents for your orientation. If you'd like to know who we are, check out our About Us page.

  1. Light Beams (Sun Beams) Tips & Facts
  2. Avoiding Busy Times & Crowds
  3. Monthly Weather for Antelope Canyon
  4. Stay 1-2 Nights (Recommended by Experts)
  5. Tour Tips & Photography Tours
  6. Upper Canyon vs. Lower Canyon
  7. 9 Antelope Canyon Must-Know Tips
  8. Prices and Fees for Antelope Canyon


Scroll down to the end of this article for even more tips. We cover every aspect of an Antelope Canyon visit. Feedback from our users: 'You got the best Antelope Canyon guide on the internet!' Tip: Are you planning to do more than Antelope Canyon in Arizona? Then get the latest edition of 'Fodor's Arizona & Grand Canyon (click the link to view it on Amazon). It has amazing insights and is definitely the best guidebook for the area. It has so much great and helfpul information you should use!

Must-See Nearby Places

Click or touch the image below (opens in new tab for easy viewing later) to check out our updated articles for must-visit nearby places: The Wave — Zion National Park — Bryce Canyon National ParkMonument Valley. And if you're staying in Las Vegas, definitely check out our complete Death Valley National Park Guide with amazing tips


 

From Las Vegas to Antelope Canyon | Tour Tips

In case you are staying in Las Vegas, this is such a great tour if you like it hassle-free: Antelope Canyon & Horseshoe Bend Tour  (Particularly great in winter!) Why this one? The tour guides are extremely friendly and have so much insider knowledge. Also, you save time, energy, and the whole tour is very comfortable in a small group!  Pick up from your Las Vegas Hotel! And if you're not scared of flying:  Grand Canyon Helicopter Tour (from Las Vegas with hotel pick-up - via Viator-TripAdvisor Experience)

 


Places you should visit nearby: Our recently updated articles with many must-know tips and insider knowledge we wrote for you:

  • The Wave - ArizonaA once in a lifetime hike! 1,5 hours drive from Antelope Canyon. Our free guide with insider tips!
  • Monument Valley: A complete guide & the best tips you should know. 2 hours drive from Antelope Canyon.
     
 
Light Beams  (Highlight)

Light Beam Facts:

  • No light beams from mid-October until end  mid-March
  • No light beams before 11 AM and after 1:30 PM
  • No light beams on a cloudy day, even during ‘light beam season’
  • Book the 10:30 AM / 11:00 AM / 12:00 AM tours to see the beams

The light beams in Antelope Canyon start around March 20 and last until early October. Best months for the beams are June, July, and August. The higher sun brings more light into the canyon. Each day the light beams are visible in the midday between 11 AM and 1:30 PM on a sunny day only. There are no light beams when it's cloudy. The most beams can be seen in Upper Antelope Canyon. They occur in Lower Antelope Canyon as well, but light beams are few and far between. You might be wondering if it's still worth visiting Antelope Canyon during off-season, without the light beams? Yes, definitely! Read on for more details:

 

Avoiding Busy Times and Tourist Crowds 


Antelope Canyon by Ron Holder, CC BY
Upper Antelope Canyon became a mass tourism spot, especially during high season as well as during shoulder seasons. Even Lower Antelope got a lot busier in the recent years. Our tips for 2018 and beyond: 

 
High Season - Shoulder Season | Spring - Summer - Fall

Expect a crowded place and fully booked midday tours from April until September. It's worse during peak months (June, July, and August) when the light is just perfect. Midday tours are jammed throughout the season. You have to choose between a crowded place with the magical beams during the season (end of March - early October) or fewer tourists without the beams in the off-season (mid-October - mid-March). You may also book a less busy tour in the early morning without the beams in 'light beams season'. You can still take great photos regardless of the time of day. Another option is Lower Antelope Canyon: Larger area, ladder climbing, fewer beams but also fewer crowds. However, Lower Canyon became much busier as it used to be. Book mid-week and try to go in the shoulder months (April/September), when there are already/still light beams but without the massive summer tourist crowds.

Low Season | Winter Visit

In the off-season (mid-October - mid-March) there are no light beams, but both places are still magical. It's less busy from November to February. However, even in winter, avoid weekends if you visit Upper Antelope Canyon. It's more quiet mid-week. For even more solitude: Visit Lower Antelope Canyon in the winter. It's much quieter during the off-season, and although there are no light beams at all, the colors are gorgeous. Check the weather forecast and try to go between 10 and 11 AM because of better light conditions.

 
Antelope Canyon Weather

Temperature wise, you can visit any time of the year. In the winter it's much quieter (see above) but also cold sometimes. Snow is very rare.  Canyon closures due to winter conditions did happen in the past but they are very unlikely. In the warm summer months, thunderstorms can occur during 'Arizona's Monsoon Season': From roughly mid-June until mid-September. Thunderstorms are usually afternoon thundershowers and more wind and lightning than rain. But still, dangerous flash floods are possible. 

More weather details (you can switch between °C and °F): Page, Arizona Climate Details
 

Tourists / Sunbeams (Highlight) Calendar


 

US United States

This is our complete guide with unique tips you’ll love before visiting Death Valley National Park. The desert in Death Valley is one of the hottest places on our planet! We provide you with tips for each season, must-know tips, tips for amazing places like Badwater Basin or Zabriskie Point, and much more.

When to Go


Death Valley sunset in autumn

The best time to visit Death Valley is either in spring with blooming wildflowers or in autumn with clear skies. Both seasons bring pleasant temperatures. Winter months are colder but still great in terms of weather and least crowded. In the summer, it gets very hot. It’s also the busiest time.

Regardless of the season, you can visit Death Valley year-round of course. Just follow our tips to avoid the crowds in summer and what to do when temperatures reach extreme highs and exceed 115 °F (46 °C). Read our complete season guide with tips for each month and everything else you should know before visiting. Use our quick navigation below:

  1. Spring | Season Guide
  2. Summer | Season Guide
  3. Autumn | Season Guide
  4. Winter | Season Guide
  5. Blooming Wildflowers
  6. Stargazing Tips
  7. The Best Tours & Hotel Tips (Recommended!)
  8. 9 Must-Know Tips (Summer - Late Spring - Early Fall)
  9. 3 Must-Visit Places & Top Tips
 
Spring (March - early May)


Zabriskie Point by Giuseppe Milo, CC BY
This is a very popular time for a visit with pleasant temperatures. On the other hand, spring also brings the most wind. The blowing sand, which may last for days, can make camping uncomfortable. A real attraction is the gorgeous spring wildflowers. However, it’s an exception to see whole the desert filled with all kinds of colorful wildflowers. In some years, there are only a few. Regarding crowds: Keep in mind that spring is also a busy season. It gets very busy during spring break holidays from the last week of March through the week after Easter. Make sure to book well in advance for a spring visit.


 
Summer (mid-May – September)


Death Valley (July) by Murray Foubister, CC BY-SA cropped
Summer arrives early in Death Valley. In May, the average daily high is already 100 °F (38 °C). June, July, August are even hotter (up to 120 °F), as well as September. At least it’s a dry heat with low humidity, which helps a little. The month of August and early September also bring thunderstorms, sometimes causing dangerous flash floods. Always check the weather forecast. Camping or hiking is not recommended during these months with boiling heat. Hikes during the day in lower elevations are dangerous and can become life threatening because of the extreme temperatures. If you do anything outside at lower elevations: Do it until 10 AM. However, there are two summer hikes at higher elevations which can be done: Wildrose Peak and Telescope Peak. Most visitors tour by car on the paved road along the main Points of Interest. Despite the heat, July, and August are the months with the highest visitation from Europe and other continents. However, almost all of them stay in their car for a short tour between 2 hours and half a day or a little more, while stopping at the main viewpoints. Also read the 9 Summer Tips in the section below.


 
Autumn (October – November)


Death Valley - Badwater Basin (October) by Paxson Woelber, CC BY cropped
Warm but more pleasant temperatures and usually clear skies. You may hike at lower elevations now. But still, start early to avoid the possible midday heat. Ranger programs and camping season begins in October. It’s relatively uncrowded, except for the Death Valley ‘49ers Week and Thanksgiving (both in November).

 
Winter (December - February)


Death Valley National Park (December) by Rob Rattray, CC BY cropped
Temperatures drop, but it never gets cold in the winter except at higher elevations. However, since it's cooler in the mornings, we suggest that you bring an extra jacket. There is less daylight in Death Valley now, but it usually lasts long enough: Sunset - Sunrise. Employees and park rangers say, the winter months of January and February are among the best months weather-wise. January and February bring the most rain, but it usually doesn’t rain heavily. Soaking rain, going for hours, can happen but it’s the exception. Winters also bring snow to the higher elevations and coat Telescope Peak (Panamint Mountains) in white. December, January and most of February are quieter months. Except for public holidays/holiday weekends (see below: Avoiding Tourist Crowds). Tip: If you visit in the winter months, don't forget to check our hotel deals & tour tips below. We updated them recently. Alternatively bookmark this link: Death Valley Winter Hotel Deals via booking.com > sort by star rating & price to see the best deals. Important: Book in advance but not too far in advance, or you'll run the risk of paying a lot more! Just save the link and check prices about 2-3 weeks before you go)


Weather (Overview)

A very helpful weather and climate overview can be downloaded here: Death Valley | NPS | Weather & Climate. Rule of thumb for strenuous and longer outside activities: During summer, stay at higher elevations. During winter: Longer activities at lower elevations are possible. Bring layer of clothes for higher elevations.


 


 
Blooming Wildflowers (Highlight)

Death Valley is popular for its fascinating wildflower displays in the spring. However, only when the conditions are perfect you'll see blankets of  gold, purple, pink or white flowers. Depending on the winter rain, it can be a great year for wildflowers or a moderate one with less blooming flowers. Check the official website: NPS Death Valley - Wildflowers. Another great website with updates and photos for each year: Death Valley NP Wildflower Reports


Desert Early Bloom - Death Valley by Marc Cooper, CC BY cropped

Peak Blooming Periods:

  • Mid-February - Mid April: Lower elevations (Areas: Jubilee Pass, Highway 190 near the Furnace Creek Inn, base of Daylight Pass)
  • Early April - Early May: 2000 to 4000 ft. Elevations (Area: Panamint Mountains)
  • Early May - Mid July: Above 4000 ft. Elevations (Area: High Panamints)

 
Stargazing Tips

Death Valley National Park is a paradise for stargazing. Why? For the best stargazing experience a dark sky is require and Death Valley is certified as the largest Dark Sky National Park in the country by the International Dark Sky Association. The park offers one of the darkest skies in the US. When you get the chance for a visit after dark, do it. It's an incredible once in a lifetime experience. Visitors report, that you can see the Milky Way galaxy almost as clearly as on NASA photos. Watch this intriguing video on YouTube: Death Valley Night Skies.

You might be wondering: Which are the best spots for stargazing at night? In fact the whole valley is excellent as long as you're not very close to buildings or other light sources. However, these are some top spots:

Dante's View: This is our favorite place in the valley for stargazing. Its altitude makes it perfect for sky-watching in the night. Read more details the place itself below. Tip: If you have enough time get there earlier to enjoy the sunset as well as the stars later. Also bring warm clothes, and maybe a blanket as it gets a lot colder up there in the night.

Badwater Basin: Different from Dante's View as you are at the lowest level, but almost equally stunning. The mountains may block the Milky Way view. However, the unique night sky view from the salt flats can't be missed. Especially if you want to take photos which look from out of this world. Read more details about Badwater Basin in general below.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: We have a separate article here. For stargazing this is a perfect spot, since your view isn't obstructed by anything. There is as much dark sky to see as possible from here. The only small downside could be light pollution from cars driving on the close highway.

Harmony Borax Works: It's close to Furnace Creek Visitor Center (Harmony Borax Works Map Location). The big advantage here are the great foreground elements for taking photos, like the mule cart (see the photo above).

For the most stunning stargazing experience you should follow some rules and tips:

  • The Best Season: The beautiful dark skies can be observed year-round. However, in winter and spring there are even special ranger tours and programs. Check them here: NPS Death Valley Program
  • New Moon: Without a visible moon the sky is much darker, which will greatly enhance stargazing with more visible stars. Preferably visit during new moon: Moon Phases Death Valley Calendar
  • No Light Pollution: Try to avoid places with nearby lights from buildings or cars. Since the whole valley is a natural area, it's often easy to walk away from light sources. Walking away 100m from smaller light sources is usually good enough.
  • Time: Stay outside for at least an hour. It takes about 20-30 minutes for your eyes to get adjusted to the dark. Then enjoy the spectacular view. Even better with binoculars.


Avoiding Tourist Crowds

The busiest times are: Spring (March/April) - even busier from the last week of March till the week after Easter - and summer from July to August (mostly visitors from Europe and other countries), as well as September. According to a park ranger, the least crowded months are December and January. However, even during low season, it gets busy on certain days: From Christmas to New Year's, on Martin Luther King Day weekend in January, and Presidents' Day weekend in February.

To avoid the crowds at the main points of interest during peak months: We know it’s a challenge, but get up very early and try to reach most destinations around 8 AM, at least before 9 AM. It’s worth it, as you’ll dodge the crowds at beautiful places like Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course, etc. In the summer, you’ll not only beat the crowds but the boiling heat as well. On a single morning, you could cover the quick 2-hour tour: Badwater | Zabriskie | Devils Course - Google Maps

US United States