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Death Valley as day trip?

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How long does it take to drive from Las Vegas to Death Valley? I have a free day following a convention in Las Vegas in early December and would like to visit some place "natural."

I've already been to Lake Mead and Hoover Dam, so I thought I would visit Valley of Fire State Park, but someone suggested Death Valley. Is Death Valley "doable" as a day trip, or should I wait to visit it when I have time to stay there at least one night?

If "doable," can you recommend an itinerary in the park? I want to photograph unusual
formations, textures and colors, and also want to do some moderate hiking.

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