From: February 16 to February 20, 2017

Destination: Death Valley National Park, CA

  • Death Valley Delights - FULL

    A Death Valley hiking tour is the perfect antidote to the winter blahs and one of the best warm winter vacations in the United States! In February 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 professional geologist will help us understand. We'll visit Scotty's Castle, a complete anomaly in this landscape; the lowest point in the whole US; and an old volcanic crater. 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 mythic status for many of us, join us for five days as we explore one of our newest National Parks.  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: 11
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  • February is typically excellent hiking, with temperatures in the high 70s. The following itinerary may be adjusted because of weather, availability of ranger talks, group wishes, etc.

    Thursday, February 16: Our trip starts today in Las Vegas.  Arrive anytime before 5 pm. Catch a convenient shuttle 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)

    Friday, February 17: Today we will make our way to Death Valley National Park, a drive that takes about 2.5 hours. After our personal professional geologist gives us an orientation to the geology of the Park and we enjoy the first of many sumptuous picnic lunches, we'll start our exploration with the Mosaic Canyon Hike. This delightful out and back hike is a perfect introduction to the complex geology of the area. We will hike 1 to 2 miles into Mosaic Canyon, so named because of the small rocks cemented into rock beds. There is fun scrambling in a few places but if that isn't appealing, sitting and soaking up the sun, surrounded by soaring canyon walls, is also delightful. We'll then go to our lodging, Furnace Creek Ranch, where we spend the next three nights. Overnight Furnace Creek Ranch. (B, L, D).

    Saturday, February 18: This morning we hike the Golden Canyon-Gower Gulch Loop. This 4.5 mile loop trail first takes us through colorful Golden Canyon with its interpretative trail. Leaving the canyon we hike up and over a ridge, passing beneath Manley Beacon and stopping to gaze at the valley floor spreading out for miles in the distance. 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 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. For example you might want to fit in lounging by the outdoor swimming pool that is naturally heated by warm springs that keep the pools' temperature at a comfortable 82 degrees. You might also choose to visit the Borax Museum, which is focused on the history of Death Valley. The guides will have other suggestions, so the choice is yours whether to pack in as much as possible or take some down time. Dinner is on your own tonight. Overnight Furnace Creek Ranch (B, L).

    Sunday, February 19: 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 hydrovolcanic explosion 300 years ago. We will hike along the west rim of the Crater to Little Hebe and several other craters, before continuing around the rim for a total of 1.5 miles. On the way back to the ranch for lunch, we'll stop at the Salt Creek Interpretative Trail. An easy boardwalk takes us to the Creek, a stream of salty water that is the only habitat of the endangered pupfish. After lunch at the ranch on the 'back lawn' we'll hit the road again and visit the lowest point in the U.S. – it's actually lower than sea level – Badwater Salt Flat. We will walk at least a half mile to the edge, and perhaps further if we're so inclined. Returning to the ranch we’ll drive through Artist Loop, stopping at several viewpoints and enjoying the changing colors as the sun lowers in the sky. We finish our very full day with our final farewell dinner back at the ranch. (B, L, D)

    Monday, February 20: Today we have to head back but not before we visit Rhyolite Ghost town. We'll say farewell to the ranch and make our way through a different section of the park, thru ‘Hells Gate’ and on to Rhyolite. Rhyolite, a ghost town in the truest sense of the word, is a collection of well-preserved remnants of buildings, all that remain of a town where the population once reached over 3,500. We’ll spend time exploring the town, hearing about the people of Rhyolite, enjoying the creativeness of the bottle house, and hearing from our geologist about Rhyolite (and gold), and having our picnic lunch outside the train depot. After lunch we will return to Las Vegas getting you back by 3:00 and you can either plan to fly out after 5:00 or stick around and try your luck. (B, L)
  • $1675 (see this page for travel discounts).  There are 4 singles available for an additional $450 (only necessary if you want your own room). You can check our cancellation policies here.

    Trip Includes

    • Experienced guides, including a professional geologist
    • Four nights of double occupancy accommodation
    • All meals from dinner on Thursday to lunch on Monday, except for one dinner
    • Round-trip transportation from Las Vegas to Death Valley and during the trip
    • National Park entry fees
    Not included: travel to Las Vegas, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities, one dinner, items of a personal nature
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  • Common Questions

    If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.

    How do I pay for my trip?

    You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.

    What if I’m coming alone?

    The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.

    Can you accommodate special diets?

    It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle. If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.

    What if I have to cancel my trip?

    The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.

    Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?

    Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.

    What other information will you send me?

    When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.

    Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?

    For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.

    How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?

    If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.

    What is the role of the guide(s)?

    On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.

    What if I have more questions?

    Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.

    What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?

    You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.

Trip highlights

  • Being accompanied by a geologist who knows and loves Death Valley and can answer all those nagging questions
  • Visiting the hottest, driest, and lowest National Park- and finding it way more than we imagined
  • Hiking across badlands, through canyons, and around an old volcano
  • Visiting eerie and dramatic Rhyolite Ghost Town
  • Stargazing in one of the darkest skies you'll ever see
  • Wearing shorts in February!

Register for this trip today

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