In March 2012 I treated myself to a one week photo retreat and chose Death Valley National Park in Western US as a destination. Here are some tips, as well as mistakes I made - in order to help you plan your trip.
1. I recommend to:
- go there in early spring; it's not too hot during the day, nights are actually quite cold;
- stay in one of the camps or resorts within the park - you'll save plenty of time driving to the desired photo location;
- plan to work early in the morning and late afternoon (duh...);
- visit your favorite place in different times of the day - colors change dramatically;
- plan to go to these locations: Badwater, Zabriskie Point, Sand dunes, Dante's View, Devil's golf course, Devil's cornfield, Titus canyon, Racetrack
- in addition, you might want to see: Golden Canyon, Artist's Drive, Ubehebe crater, Crayolite ghost town
2. Mistakes I made:
- forgot to check the Moon status; I wanted to do astro lapse photography, but the Moon was full...
- when I rented a Jeep to go to the Racetrack, I didn't buy an extra can of fuel - so couldn't see some other interesting stuff in the vicinity as gas stations are quite rare;
- Scotty's castle: waste of time for landscape photographers, since it's only a building;
- didn't start hiking the Sand dunes early enough in the afternoon to get away from people, was caught by dusk and had to turn around;
- drove to Las Vegas and lost some money there :-(
3. Don't forget to take along:
- a good cloth/blow cleaner for the cameras and lenses - it's a lot of sand out there;
- a big coffee mug to get you through early mornings out in the field;
- the obvious: a headlamp, tripod, spare batteries, warm clothes for early mornings and nights.