Great Family Adventures: Black Sheep Adventures' 'Death Valley'

Yes, we know: The family vacation is a much-parodied event, and perhaps rightfully so. But fumbles, foibles, and hassles aside, families keep taking them for the same good reason: They’re priceless sources of memories.

    Photo: Courtesy of Black Sheep Adventures

HIGHLIGHTS: Death Valley is a place of extremes—it’s got the hottest place on Earth, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, and the driest place in the United States—but that doesn’t mean you can’t take your kids to experience its Mojave Desert magic. Fred Ackerman, who owns Black Sheep Adventures, was born here, a result of the fact that his dad was a Death Valley National Park ranger. The senior Ackerman designed the hiking trail that scales 9,064-foot Wildrose Peak. “I still guide every tour I can there,” says his son. Join him to hike Mosaic Canyon’s narrows and gorgeous Golden Canyon, bike to Badwater’s lowest point, and visit the ghost town of Rhyolite. It may have reached 134 degrees Fahrenheit here, but your family will think it’s cool: Kids like seeing the sand dunes, old borax mines, and Scotty’s Castle, a mansion with a quirky history. At Salt Creek, they’ll learn how the endemic pupfish evolved to survive here. Black Sheep is willing to accommodate kids of literally all ages, and customizes multigenerational tours when grandparents want to join.

OUTFITTER: Black Sheep Adventures was founded 10 years ago when Fred Ackerman left a well-known tour operator to open his own shop. They specialize in private, customized multisport tours for small groups.

ITINERARY: Las Vegas to Rhyolite, Death Valley National Park (Salt Creek to Mosaic Canyon, Sand Dunes, Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, Ubehebe Crater, Scotty’s Castle, Wildrose Peak, Dante’s View, Badwater salt flat, Ashford Mill, Artist’s Palette, Zabriskie Point), and back to Las Vegas.

DATES: Custom departure dates available, but the ideal time to take this trip is between October and April.

PRICE: From $2,695 per person, including lodging at Furnace Creek Resort, transportation, most meals, guidance services with van support, park admission fee, a hybrid-bike rental, and porterage.

INFO:, (866) 647-4337.

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