Death Valley is approximately 260 miles from Los Angeles, on the border to Nevada and has the distinction of being the hottest place on Earth during the scoring summer months.
Right now (as of March), Death Valley is alive with a "super bloom," a vibrant floral explosion that has colored the otherwise tan terrain with yellow flowers. Such an occasion happens only once every ten or twenty years when increased rainfall breathes life into the dry soil.
The drive out to Death Valley from Los Angeles takes at least four hours - and once you're off the main freeway out of the city, most of the drive is on beautiful open road with very few cars to slow you down. We left from LA at 1PM and arrived in Furnace Creek towards 6PM after the sun had set. Furnace Creek is the main "town" in Death Valley, with a general store, a motel, and restaurant. We ate at the saloon-style restaurant then drove another 30 miles to Beatty, a small town in Nevada for the night as all there was no vacancy in Furnace Creek.
The next morning we awoke early to drive back into Death Valley, awe-struck by the incredible mountain landscapes we had missed on the drive at night. The super bloom was occurring on the road between Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Tall yellow flowers bloomed along the flatlands leading up to rocky mountains on either side of the road.
From there, we continued back to Furnace Creek, where there are beautiful sand dunes - one could imagine being in the middle of the Sahara or Sinai. If you are adventures and want to have a little fun, bring a sled or snowboard so you can fly down the dunes! It's a lot of fun.
After a lunch at the saloon, we continued onwards to the Badwater Mountains, where the terrain turned from desert to something resembling Himalayan peaks with snowcapped peaks looming above (the temperature was also 20 degrees cooler here). We left the park by 3PM and stopped to see the sun set from the highway over the mountains (one can only imagine it would have been even more incredibly from somewhere inside the park itself).
The best time to visit is now, not only because of the Super Bloom, but because the temperature becomes unbearable in the summer months and it would be impossible to visit the sand dunes (or even drive through the valley with a risk of your car overheating).