Death Valley Safety Tips


  • Drink at least one gallon (4 liters) of water per day to replace loss from perspiration.
  • Carry plenty of extra drinking water in your car.

Heat and Dehydration:

  • If you feel dizzy, nauseous or get a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink plenty of water.
  • Dampen clothing to lower your body temperature.
  • Heat and dehydration can kill.

Plan your visit:

  • Do you have the appropriate vehicle, tires, tools, camping gear, maps, and skills for your intended route?
  • Do you have enough fuel and water? If you aren’t sure, ask a ranger.

Be Prepared

  • Check your rental car contract to see if you are covered should something happen to your car on an unpaved road.
  • Have the necessary tools (rental cars often lack the proper tire changing tools!) and know how to use them.


  • Do not hike in the low elevations when temperatures are hot.

Dangerous Creatures:

  • Never place your hands or feet where you cannot see first.
  • Rattlesnakes, scorpions or black widow spiders may be sheltered there.

Mine Hazards:

  • Do not enter mine tunnels or shafts.
  • Mines may be unstable, have hidden shafts, pockets of bad air and poisonous gas.
  • Stay Out – Stay Alive.

Flash Floods:

  • Avoid canyons during rain storms and be prepared to move to higher ground.
  • While driving, be alert for water running in washes and across the road.
  • Water can carry rocks and debris with it and may suddenly appear around the next curve in the roadway.

In Case of Emergency: Dial 911 from any telephone or cell phone.  area-51-tours-from-las-vegas

However, Don’t Rely On Technology!

  • Your cell phone won’t work in most of the park.
  • Emergency locator beacons have a high failure rate.
  • GPS devices frequently tell Death Valley visitors to turn off well-traveled roads, and take “shortcuts” over the desert and into isolated canyons.
  • Common sense and good judgment are far more reliable.

Custom, Private Tours – One-Day and Multi-Day Tours of the American West.

Scheduled Day Trips to Death Valley from Las Vegas

Other Topics In This Series:

Desert Travel Tips: Death Valley Tours From Las Vegas

Desert Tours From Las Vegas – Water and Hydration

The Introduction To This Post Is Here:
Mojave Desert Travel Tips For Tours From Las Vegas

Water and Hydration

Simply being in the desert will dry you out, any time of year. Period.

That includes your skin, mouth, hair, nose, and eyes.

Summertime just makes it all happen more quickly.

Drink more water than you typically do in a normal day.

You can tell how hydrated you are by how clear your urine output is. If it’s yellow, drink more water.

And here’s something interesting… our troops in the desert are told… “if you don’t feel like you need to pee, you haven’t had enough water.”

So don’t worry about drinking too much water… there are plenty of loo’s and restrooms on The Strip for your comfort, and if you need to pee in the desert, the plants will appreciate your contribution.

Tours From Las Vegas:
Mojave Desert Travel Tips

  • Plan to drink at least four liters of water each day while in Las Vegas or traveling in the desert
  • Carry extra water with you even if you are just walking down The Strip.
  • Drink water even when you do not feel thirsty.
  • This is especially true if you happen to enjoy a few lovely beverages from the bars while you are in Las Vegas – alcohol takes water out of you.
  • When hiking, carry a couple of bottles of water with you for short hikes, a gallon or more for longer hikes, plus a little extra in case of an emergency.
  • Store extra water in your car.
  • Carry water with you even if you are only planning to explore a short distance from your car.

A final note: If you are hiking down one of the trails at the Grand Canyon South Rim, Park Rangers will stop you and ask you to show them how much water you are carrying; if it is not enough, they will turn you around and send you back up the trail.

Other Topics In This Series:

Desert Travel Tips: Death Valley Tours From Las Vegas

Desert Tours From Las Vegas – What To Wear In Death Valley

The Introduction To This Post Is Here:
Mojave Desert Travel Tips For Tours From Las Vegas

Your Death Valley Tour:
Clothing for a Desert Adventure

Sunburns of a dangerous nature can develop quickly from the sun in the high desert.

A loose fitting, long-sleeved, lightweight shirt is best for hot desert hiking, climbing, or biking. It protects you from the sun and it can be wetted to keep your skin cool.

Tours From Las Vegas:
Mojave Desert Travel Tips

  • Tank tops expose too much skin.
  • Shorts are fine as long as you wear appropriate sunscreen on your legs.
  • Wearing a broad-brimmed hat is a great idea.
  • Baseball caps are better than nothing – they cover the top of your head and give nice shade for your eyes, but they leave skin on your face, neck, and ears exposed to the sun.
  • Wear a hat with a brim (a cowboy hat would be a good idea)
  • Wear light-colored, lightweight clothes. Long sleeves can be rolled up for comfort or down as needed for protection.
  • Pack a light-weight jacket or windbreaker in the summer, something wind-proof that you can add as a layer in case the wind picks up or the weather cools.
  • Wear sunglasses, and carry and use sunblock.
  • Shoes. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Sandals and heels may be fashionable, but they really don’t work well in the desert.

Other Topics In This Series:

Desert Travel Tips: Death Valley Tours From Las Vegas

Desert Tours From Las Vegas – Prepare Your Car For Desert Travel

The Introduction To This Post Is Here:
Mojave Desert Travel Tips For Tours From Las Vegas

Highway in Death Valleydeath valley, desert tours from las vegas

Mojave Desert Has Plenty of Long, Lonely Highways

Prepare Your Car For Desert Travel

Ensure that your car is in good working order – service stations are few and far between in the mojave desert. You really don’t want to break down on your trip through Death Valley.

It would be a good idea to have towing insurance that covers distances of 100 miles or greater. Many insurance policies provide towing up to 15 or 25 miles, but the distance between towns in Nevada can be long.

For example, there is a stretch between Wells, Nevada and McGill, Nevada of 126 miles – a very beautiful, long, empty, lonely highway. There are many long, empty highways through the Mojave desert and Death Valley.

One particular stretch of Nevada Highway 318 has collected a couple of world records for speed. Highway 318 is closed every year for a famous auto race – The Silver State Classic – 90 miles of nothing – great for really fast cars.

Death Valley Tours From Las Vegas:
Mojave Desert Travel Tips

  • Check air conditioner, alternator, water pump drive belts for cracks and damage and replace them if needed BEFORE you go.
  • Same goes for radiator hoses and heater hoses. High summer temperatures can increase the pressure of your engine’s cooling system, and these pressures can be enough to cause that little ‘weakness’ in the hose to suddenly fail.
  • Check that the coolant level is correct, with a proper mix of anti-freeze. Remember, ‘anti-freeze’ is also ‘anti-boil’; it allows your engine to operate with a coolant temperature higher than the boiling point of water.
  • Check the charging system; a weak battery can fail under the stress of high summer heat. Most auto parts stores will check this for you at no charge, and it just takes a few minutes.
  • Check the air pressure in your SPARE tire before you go!
    Make sure your jack works BEFORE you leave.
  • You should have flares and jumper cables, and a can of “Fix-a-Flat” can be a wonderful thing.
  • If you should have a break-down in the middle of nowhere, STAY WITH YOUR CAR! It will provide shade for you when there is nothing else around.

About Gasoline:

When the highway sign says “Next Gas 50 Miles” – you better KNOW FOR SURE that you have enough to make it before you head out for that open road!

And remember the unpredictable and the extremes:

  • For example, an unexpected flat tire could put you outside in the heat (or cold) for quite a while, and you may need to leave the engine running to keep your family cool (or warm) while you change the tire.
  • You’ll want to be cool (or warm) when YOU get back into the car, and you’ll want to have plenty of fuel to keep it running.

Other Topics In This Series:

Desert Travel Tips: Death Valley Tours From Las Vegas

Desert Tours From Las Vegas – Wind, Rain, and Flash Floods

The Introduction To This Post Is Here:
Mojave Desert Travel Tips For Tours From Las Vegas

Death Valley, Las Vegas, and Mojave Desert Weather

Weather changes in desert environments can be quick and extreme. It can go from sunny to stormy in the blink of an eye.

Winds rip through the desert picking up surface sand that blasts against you and prevents you from opening your eyes, and making it hard to get a breath.

Wind can bring storm fronts quickly, and black clouds in the distance can become thunderstorms over your head as you watch.

It’s important to know your escape routes if you are hiking in a wash or narrow canyon.

Always be looking for changes in the wind or sky, and know how to access higher ground.

Torrential downpours, even for a short while, and a even few miles away can cause tremendous flash floods.

Other Topics In This Series:

Desert Travel Tips: Death Valley Tours From Las Vegas

Skywalk – Update 2011

Skywalk at Grand Canyon West opened
March 20, 2007, over 4 years ago.

Skywalk 2011skywalk, grand canyon west, skywalk recent development

Progress Continues at Grand Canyon West

Much has changed since then; the experience at Grand Canyon West is better now than ever before.

Still raw, rugged, and unfinished, Grand Canyon West is a place where you can feel like you are participating in the Grand Canyon, rather than just observing it.

One of my own favorite views of the Grand Canyon is at the West Rim – the view from Guano Point. There is a short, easy walk to a small knoll behind the restaurant.

Looking South from Guano Pointskywalk, grand canyon west, guano point

View of restaurant from top of pyramid rocks

There is also a more ambitious scramble up the pyramid rock for the 360-degree view above the old tramway structure – either location will deliver great viewpoints of the Grand Canyon.

Just 2.5 hours from Las Vegas, Grand Canyon West is a memorable day trip, and the Skywalk tour is without question one of my favorites.

There is a 9.2 mile stretch of unpaved, gravel road in the Grand Wash traveling up Diamond Bar Road, as the road passes through a corner of the historic Grand Canyon Ranch.

Once you get to the Hualapai tribal lands, the road is paved and smooth again. If you drive up in a rental car, make sure the car insurance covers use on un-paved roads.

To avoid any trouble with your car on the rocky road, call us and we’ll get you there and back again in air conditioned comfort!

Doc Wymer, Las Vegas Tour Guide

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Grand Skywalk Video Grand Canyons West – Skywalk Tours

Grand Skywalk Video Grand Canyons West – Skywalk Tours

This is one of my favorite Grand Canyon Skywalk Videos.

I was driving guests on tours from Las Vegas to the Hualapai Nation’s Grand Canyon West years before the dream of Skywalk came true.

In the early days at Grand Canyon West, I was able to walk along the narrow trails at Quartermaster Point with my guests, right on the very edge of the Grand Canyon.

Quartermaster Point is now closed to everyone.

Those great views at Grand Canyon West are no longer available to us, but the Hualapai are now sharing some of the best viewpoints ever.

That spectacular experience, the terrific trails and great views from Quartermaster Point, have been replaced with two extraordinary and superior viewpoints – Guano Point, and the Grand Skywalk at Eagle Point.

Under Construction:
The Skywalk at Eagle Point
The Grand Canyon’s West Rim
Grand Skywalk Grand Canyon West, eagle point, guano point, quartermaster point

Grand Skywalk Grand Canyon West Rim

“I was there for the transition of Grand Canyon West Rim tours, from Quartermaster to Eagle Point.”

“I got to watch them build the Skywalk from the dusty beginning to it’s current state.”

“In my opinion, the Hualapai have created a truly wonderful new opportunity for you to see the Grand Canyons at the West Rim, by creating Skywalk and opening Guano Point to visitors.”

Doc Wymer – Las Vegas Tour Guide

Grand Canyon Skywalk is a ‘Must-See, Must-Do’ Adventure, One of the Best Day Tours from Las Vegas.

Video Credits: I found this Grand Canyons West Skywalk Helicopter tour video at the Arizona Leisure Vacation Guide

Hoover Dam Was Originally Named Boulder Dam

‘Hoover Dam’ Was Originally Named ‘Boulder Dam’. That’s right, and it’s all here in the Hoover Dam Dedication Speech.

I’m adding some great photos of the Hoover Dam Project from ‘back-in-the-day’, just because I like them.

Doc Wymer, Las Vegas Tour Guide
  • Roosevelt’s Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) Dedication speech was front-page news in newspapers all over the country.
  • It was broadcast to a radio audience of millions of people.
  • 10,000 people braved 102-degree heat (39 degrees Celsius) to hear the Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) speech in person.
Following is an excerpt of the Boulder Dam (Hoover Dam) Dedication Speech, broadcast by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the
Dedication of Boulder Dam Ceremonies, Sept. 30, 1935:

This morning I came, I saw and I was conquered, as everyone would be who sees for the first time this great feat of mankind.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt Tours and Speaks at Dedication of Boulder Dam, Sept. 30, 1935Boulder Dam - Hoover Dam Dedication Speech, hoover dam tours from las vegas

‘Boulder Dam’ was renamed ‘Hoover Dam’ by and Act of Congress in 1947

Ten years ago the place where we are gathered was an unpeopled, forbidding desert. In the bottom of a gloomy canyon, whose precipitous walls rose to a height of more than a thousand feet, flowed a turbulent, dangerous river. The mountains on either side of the canyon were difficult of access with neither road nor trail, and their rocks were protected by neither trees nor grass from the blazing heat of the sun. The site of Boulder City was a cactus-covered waste. The transformation wrought here in these years is a twentieth-century marvel.

Arrow Indicates Location of Hoover Dam in Black canyon and valley beyond, before hoover dam, before lake mead, hoover dam tours from las vegas

Notice the Colorado River winding through the distant valley – the valley floor you see there is now the bottom of Lake Mead.

We are here to celebrate the completion of the greatest dam in the world, rising 726 feet above the bedrock of the river and altering the geography of a whole region; we are here to see the creation of the largest artificial lake in the world – 115 miles long, holding enough water, for example, to cover the State of Connecticut to a depth of ten feet; and we are here to see nearing completion a power house which will contain the largest generators yet installed in this country.

Workers at Boulder Dam (Now Hoover Dam): ‘High Scalers’ Workers at Boulder Dam (Now Hoover Dam) - High Scalers, hoover dam tours from las vegas

The High-Scaler’s Job Was To Blast Rock From Walls of Black Canyon. Photo from Boulder City Museum and Historical Association

All these dimensions are superlative. They represent and embody the accumulated engineering knowledge and experience of centuries; and when we behold them it is fitting that we pay tribute to the genius of their designers. We recognize also the energy, resourcefulness and zeal of the builders, who, under the greatest physical obstacles, have pushed this work forward to completion two years in advance of the contract requirements. But especially, we express our gratitude to the thousands of workers who gave brain and brawn to this great work of construction.

We know that, as an unregulated river, the Colorado added little of value to the region this dam serves. When in flood the river was a threatening torrent. In the dry months of the year it shrank to a trickling stream. The gates of these great diversion tunnels were closed here at Boulder Dam last February. In June a great flood came down the river. It came roaring down the canyons of the Colorado, through Grand Canyon, Iceberg and Boulder Canyons, but it was caught and safely held behind Boulder Dam.

Hoover DamHoover Dam intake towers under construction, hoover dam tours from las vegas

Hoover Dam intake towers under construction

Across the San Jacinto Mountains southwest of Boulder Dam, the cities of Southern California are constructing an aqueduct to cost $220,000,000, which they have raised, for the purpose of carrying the regulated waters of the Colorado River to the Pacific Coast 259 miles away.

Across the desert and mountains to the west and south run great electric transmission lines by which factory motors, street and household lights and irrigation pumps will be operated in Southern Arizona and California.

Boulder Dam and the powerhouses together cost a total of $108,000,000. The price of Boulder Dam during the depression years provided for 4,000 men, most of them heads of families, and many thousands more were enabled to earn a livelihood through manufacture of materials and machinery.

And this picture is true on different scales in regard to the thousands of projects undertaken by the Federal Government, by the States and by the counties and municipalities in recent years.

Throughout our national history we have had a great program of public improvements, and in these past two years all that we have done has been to accelerate that program. We know, too, that the reason for this speeding up was the need of giving relief to several million men and women whose earning capacity had been destroyed by the complexities and lack of thought of the economic system of the past generation.

Hoover Dam, Colorado River, Hoover Dam Power PlantsHoover Dam Powerhouses, hoover dam generator rooms, seen from pedestrian walkway on the New Hoover Dam Bridge, hoover dam tours from las vegas

Hoover Dam Powerhouses viewed from pedestrian walkway on the New Hoover Dam Bridge

In a little over two years this great national work has accomplished much. We have helped mankind by the works themselves and, at the same time, we have created the necessary purchasing power to throw in the clutch to start the wheels of what we call private industry. Such expenditures on all of these works, great and small, flow out to many beneficiaries; they revive other and more remote industries and businesses. Labor makes wealth. The use of materials makes wealth. To employ workers and materials when private employment has failed is to translate into great national possessions the energy that otherwise would be wasted. Boulder Dam is a splendid symbol of that principle. The mighty waters of the Colorado were running unused to the sea. Today we translate them into a great national possession.

Today marks the official completion and dedication of Boulder Dam. This is an engineering victory of the first order – another great achievement of American resourcefulness, American skill and determination.

That is why I have the right once more to congratulate you who have built Boulder Dam… and on behalf of the Nation to say to you, “Well done.”


Above is an abridged version of the Boulder Dam (now Hoover Dam) Dedication Speech. Full text can be found on The American Presidency Project website

Related Hoover Dam Posts:

Doc Wymer, Las Vegas Tour Guide

Skywalk to Las Vegas, Diamond Bar Road – Hazards of a Gravel Road

Skywalk to Las Vegas, Diamond Bar Road – Hazards of a Gravel Road

I was up at Grand Canyon West for a Skywalk tour from Las Vegas yesterday, having a great time with some terrific guests who became my new friends from Loo-Zee-Anne.

Joyce Had A Great Day at The Grand Canyonskywalk tours, skywalk, grand canyon west, best las vegas tours

Joyce at the Skywalk: “I Came, I Saw, I Walked!”

Yep, they live on the bayou and had just driven 1860 miles from Louisiana. I gaarrr-aahnn-tee.

Joyce and her husband Noble were on bona-fide road trip to Las Vegas with their grandson Zachary.

Joyce had wanted to see the Grand Canyon for years. She told me it was ranked very high on her ‘bucket list’.

Maybe it was just my lucky day, but I was the next guide up – and it was my privilege to be their driver and guide on their Grand Canyon tour.

I had so much fun with them – for me, it was one of my very best days ever as a guide. My new Cajun friends were a blast to hang out with.

More about Joyce and Noble and Zachary later.

For now, though, a road hazard warning as you go down Diamond Bar Road on the way to the Skywalk at the Grand Canyon West Rim.

There are 9 miles of unpaved road as you travel across the corner of the Grand Canyon Ranch heading up toward Grand Canyon West.

The gravel starts just before Rattlesnake Hill and you don’t hit pavement again until you get to the welcome sign at the border of the Hualapai Nation.

We were in the Detours Custom Touring Van on the way back to Las Vegas, and while we were still on the pavement on the Hualapai Nation, I pulled over to let a full-sized, 50-passenger tour bus pass us. I know they like to keep their speed up when the get on the gravel, and I like to take it just a little easy, so I just let the bus driver go around.

I let him get a little distance ahead so we wouldn’t eat his dust on Diamond Bar.

Tire Failure on Diamond Bar Road
Return Trip on Las Vegas Skywalk Tour
bad tire, gravel road, skywalk tour, diamond bar road, grand canyon west

Big Bus, Bad Tire.

About 3 miles into the gravel, there was a whole bus-sized tire casing laying in the road, and Noble said he thought we’d see that bus pulled over shortly.

Sure enough, less than a mile further down Diamond Bar Road, there was the bus that had passed us, stopped along-side the road with a shredded tire.

I pulled over to ask the driver if he needed us to call anyone when we got in cell-phone range, but he had a satellite phone and was able to contact his dispatcher.

He thanked us for stopping, and we headed on down the road.

Flat tires can happen even to safe and courteous drivers, like the driver of this bus.

If you are driving through the desert, especially on rough roads like Diamond Bar, be prepared before you leave Las Vegas.

  • Be sure your tires are inflated properly and have plenty of tread.
  • Don’t go too fast because the gravel can put you sideways before you can even think.
  • Watch out for the sharp rocks that the road grader either missed or kicked up.
  • Carry a spare, a proper jack, and know how to replace a tire.
  • Have an umbrella for shade – you’ll appreciate it if you have to change a tire in July or August.
  • You will be traveling through the desert, take at least 1 quart of water for each passenger.

Grand Canyons West Diamond Bar Road – The Road to Skywalk, Part 2

Diamond Bar Road and Grand Canyons West:
The Road to Skywalk, Part 2

As mentioned in Part 1, the general conditions of Diamond Bar Road kept most people away from Grand Canyon West, and because of this, only a small group of people ever got to see the Grand Canyons from Quartermaster.

Grand Canyons West – Trail to Quartermaster Pointgrand canyon west, skywalk, quartermaster point, hualapai, diamond bar road, best las vegas tours

Quartermaster Point, Grand Canyon West; before Skywalk was built.

With the Skywalk open, access is now closed to the trails and views at Quartermaster Point.

The excitement of the Skywalk project generated interest and income for the Hualapai.

Even before Skywalk was open, it was an amazing project that people could come and see, and watch as it was being built.

With the building of Skywalk, more and more people accepted the challenge of Diamond Bar Road, and the additional income from Skywalk allowed the Hualapai to pave much of it.

I used to see people drive up Diamond Bar Road from Las Vegas in their rental cars; many would get 2 or 3 miles down Diamond Bar and turn back.

The rented convertibles would be covered with the finely-sifted desert dust.

Whether they actually made it all the way to Grand Canyon West or not, they would be charged an extra cleaning fee when they returned the car at the airport – the agents knew exactly where they had been at a glance.

Tire Failure on Diamond Bar Road
Return Trip on Las Vegas Skywalk Tourbad tire, gravel road, skywalk tour, diamond bar road, grand canyon west

Big Bus, Rocky Road, Shredded Tire.

Things have changed on Diamond Bar Road

As of this writing, only 9 miles of Diamond Bar Road remains unpaved.

The remaining gravel road has been improved and is smoothed regularly with road grading equipment.

Yes, you can still get a flat tire on the gravel.

Don’t let Diamond Bar Road keep you away from the Skywalk – 20 miles of bad road is an old story now.

The Skywalk at Grand Canyons West is one of those adventures that you should put on your ‘bucket-list’.

Diamond Bar Road: The Road to Skywalk and Grand Canyons West – Part 1