Death Valley National Park Star Wars Filming Locations

Combining two things you love is always a good thing. You can satisfy your wanderlust and your inner Star Wars geek at the same time with a trip to Death Valley National Park in California. My family of four has two people who love all things Star Wars and two who have accepted that all things Star Wars are part of our family.

Death Valley National Park Star Wars Filming Locations

My husband and one of my kids are true Star Wars lovers, and my other kid and I accept that love, remain up-to-date on the movies, and can hold our own in a basic movie discussion. I planned our trip to Death Valley as a side trip from Las Vegas and didn’t know about the Star Wars connection until my husband brought it up.

Here's how you can visit the Death Valley National Park Star Wars filming location, including driving and timing tips.

Getting to Death Valley via Vegas

Take NV-160 from Las Vegas toward Pahrump and follow the signs. Death Valley National Park is 130 miles from the strip – about a two-hour drive. This trip is entirely doable as a day trip if you want something more outdoor-focused and less Vegas-y.

Pro Tip: Do the stops in the order I’ve listed; otherwise, you’ll be backtracking and wasting daylight. The order I’ve listed follows the natural path of the park road (SR-190) and lets you get a full day of sightseeing in.

1. Dante’s View

How To Get There

From the pay station, you will take Furnace Creek Wash Road, following the signs for Dante’s View. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the park entrance to Dante’s View. A parking lot/paved viewing area looks down on the salt-crusted Badwater Basin, 282 feet below sea level. Dante’s View is at an elevation of 5,000 feet.

dante's view; Death Valley national park Star Wars filming location
Image Credit: Jill Robbins

The Star Wars Story

This viewpoint was where Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker looked down on Mos Eisley, the Tatooine spaceport in A New Hope.

2. Twenty-mule Team Canyon

How To Get There

When you finish with Mos Eisley/Dante’s Peak, follow the main road through the park – you will see signs for Twenty-Mule Team Canyon. The drive will take about 45 minutes.

Death Valley national park Star Wars filming location in Twenty Mule Team Canyon
Image Credit: Jill Robbins

The Star Wars Story

In Return of the Jedi, R2-D2 and C-3PO traveled through Twenty-Mule Team Canyon to rescue Han Solo from Jabba the Hutt. Driving through the canyon, you can pretend you’re dodging the famous galactic villain!

3. Artist’s Palette

How To Get There

Depending on how fast you’re rolling through Death Valley National Park, and if you stop for a lunch break, you’ll be at Artist’s Palette about three hours after you leave Twenty-Mule Team Canyon.

You’ll see Zabriskie Point, Badwater Basin, and Devil’s Golf Course (skippable if you're running short on time or have young children) before heading toward Artist’s Palette. From Badwater Basin, you will drive North on Badwater Road for five miles and then turn right onto Artist’s Drive. There are lots of signs, and the turns are difficult to miss.

artist palette Star Wars filming location in Death Valley national park
Image Credit: Deposit Photos

This is the most Instagrammable area of the park. The rainbow-hued hills are colorized due to oxidized metal.

The Star Wars Story

Artist’s Palette was the backdrop for R2-D2's journey through the desert canyon right before Jawas captured him.

4. Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes

How To Get There

As with the other notable spots in Death Valley National Park, you’ll find the area well-marked. You’ll pass the Stovepipe Wells Visitor’s Center as you go east on SR-190 and take the marked road to Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes.

Death Valley National Park Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes
Image Credit: Jill Robbins

If you leave Vegas at 7:00 a.m. and arrive at the park around 9:00 a.m., it should be around 3:30-4:00 by the time you arrive at Mesquite Flats (and this should be the time you’re shooting for to get the most out of your last stop before you head back to Vegas).

The Star Wars Story

In A New Hope, when R2-D2 and C-3PO are lost in the Tatooine desert – that’s Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Although the winds in the park can produce swirling sandstorms that impede visibility, hopefully, you won’t experience that on your visit.

Tips To Make Your Death Valley Trip Successful

  • Leaving Vegas early – around 7:00 a.m. is ideal.
  • Expect zero cell signal in the park.
  • Concessions are limited in the park – pack a cooler + plenty of water.
  • Dress in layers.
  • If you have your own lightsaber or themed costume, take them along. Think of the epic photo opportunities!
  • Don’t visit in the summer. Average highs during July-August are 115°F.
  • Winter temperatures are great for visiting Death Valley, but the short days limit what you can see in a day. Visit during spring. This is the way.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.

Jill is an expert travel writer focusing on family and adventure travel as well as practical tips to help travelers get the most value out of their vacation experiences. In addition to Wealth of Geeks, Jill has written for Business Insider, MSN, Tripsavvy, Matador Network, Canadian Traveller, and Travel Awaits. She lives in San Antonio with her husband and sons but she's usually somewhere else.