Artists Palette Death Valley National Park Artists Drive Death valley Artist Drive

Artist’s Drive crosses a sloping mountainside composed of vibrant soil colored by rich metals. The drive passes an area dubbed the Artist’s Palette, which is among the unique landmarks in Death Valley National Park that must be seen to believe.

Artist’s Drive is a one-way road traveling from south to north. For those coming from Badwater Basin, this is an ideal side trek en route to Furnace Creek.

Artist's Drive
Artist’s Drive

The 9-mile drive climbs above Badwater Road for an impressive perspective on the salt flat below. Turnouts allow visitors to get out of the car and have a look around. The first major turnoff provides a short uphill walk to an impressive overlook with wide views of the basin below.

The main stop of the drive is Artist’s Palette. Turn off the drive and into the Artist’s Palette parking lot. Steps from the lot lead down to a narrow wash. Cross the wash and make your way toward the colored mountainside. Various metals have oxidized the clay creating eye-popping reds, yellows, greens, blues, and purples. The rainbow bands that color the soil bare an obvious resemblance to a grand painters palette.

Artist's Palette
Artist’s Palette

After enjoying the vivid landscape, take the Artist’s Drive to its termination on Badwater Road.

To get to Artist’s Drive: The turnoff for the start of Artist’s Drive is located nine miles south of Furnace Creek on Badwater Road. Vehicles over 25 feet long are prohibited on Artist’s Drive.

Artist’s Drive address: Artist’s Drive, Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, CA 92328
Artist’s Drive coordinates: 36.32995, -116.82995 (36° 19′ 47.8″N 116° 49′ 47.8″W)

Use the map below to view the drive and get directions:

View Death Valley National Park in a larger map
Or view California Desert trails and campgrounds in a larger map

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These photos were taken in January of 2006, April of 2007, and November of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Golden Canyon Death ValleyGolden Canyon – Gower Gulch Loop
This 4-mile loop visits stunning terrain in the badlands region near Furnace Creek.
Natural Bridge Canyon hikeNatural Bridge Canyon
The 2-mile round trip hike up Natural Bridge Canyon is a great trek for those interested in learning about the geological history of Death Valley
Badwater Death ValleyBadwater Basin
This is the lowest place in North America — a required stop for first time visitors to Death Valley.
hike Death ValleyDeath Valley
Explore more destinations in Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley CampingDeath Valley Campgrounds
Nine campgrounds are spread throughout this large park to facilitate your visit.
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5 Comments on Artist’s Drive in Death Valley National Park

  1. alexis wrote:

    this was a very pretty view and it was a short road

  2. […] Pure bliss and contentment. The next day I hiked into and explored the painted landscape of Artist’s Palette. It was no longer enough to stand and ogle from the edge, I had to get in there. Walk on, over, […]

  3. […] in the foreboding desert?  We have to check it out.  As Artist’s Drive takes us into the mountains and winds around large rocks, we see the rich color palette of the rock […]

  4. SanDie Sue and BW wrote:

    Exciting to see ancient sandieborax wagons remembered from old TV show, amazing hike to natural bridge and subtle in colors of artist drive. We loved turquoise trimmed ghost town with old opera house,wild burros & mustangs. Catch Texas sporting house next trip but we enjoyed Pahrump winery.

  5. […] Artist’s Drive showcases some of the most vibrant colors in Death Valley. And it’s a fun drive (without a trailer, of course). The 9-mile one-way road dips and winds through a landscape of yellows, reds, greens, blues, and purples created by oxidized minerals. We drove the road two different times and found that the late afternoon sun best highlights the colorful rock formations. […]