STARK BEAUTY: While a lot of national parks start seeing fewer visitors come fall, California is home to one of the notable exceptions: Death Valley. Sure, people do play tourist in one of the hottest and driest points on earth -- and one of the lowest, too -- in the summertime, if events like the Badwater Ultramarathon are any indication. But when autumn arrives, with its cooler days and absolutely perfect nights, people start looking to the desert. Nope, it doesn't have the foliage but something about its long, mountain-cast shadows and rich, red colors do feel perfectly of the season. Which means a fall biking trip, if you like your biking trips, could be just the ticket.
TWO PACKAGES: Furnace Creek, that sleep-eat-and-everything hub of the valley, will offer two cycling deals starting in October. One is a mountain bike adventure, which comes complete with map and other extras; the other is a scenic downhill ride, which means you'll get a van ride up to a higher elevation -- yup, Death Valley does have mountains, not just valley floor -- before you spin back down.
OTHER D.V. FUN: The posh Inn at Furnace Creek traditionally reopens for the winter season in October, though a post on the site says that there is limited service during July and August due to "lodging demands." If you feel like skipping the whole bike thing and just hanging poolside, the Inn's your spot. If there are longer, prettier, starker views from any other hotel pool on earth, we're not sure we know of them.