From Las Vegas, it's one hour and 45 minutes to quirky, small-town Beatty, the northeastern gateway to Death Valley National Park, the hottest, driest and lowest national park in the land. While most of the park is located in California, its northern extent forms part of the California–Nevada state line. The popular park is notoriously short on places to sleep for the visitor numbers it attracts, making Beatty an excellent alternative base from which to explore.
Otherwise, there's a host of humble but worthwhile things to see and do in and around the town, and if conditions come together, from March to May, the surrounding desert is daubed yellow with a carpet of wildflowers: magical.
Don't be shocked if you run into any of Beatty's local 'cowboys' (www.beattycowboys.com) dressed in period garb and getting up to general mischief in the streets: they're harmless enough!