The vibe at Emigrant Campground
Drop some Emigrant Campground knowledge on us.
Although the campground itself lacks in the way of ambiance--it really is just a large, unshaded, gravel lot--the surrounding mountains more than make up for it. It's also free and has the amenities of a larger campground (hey, hey flush toilets). I drove in on a sand storm and had to spend an hour waiting in my car by the side of the road, as there was zero visibility. It was very cool and a crazy experience, but by the time I hit the campground I had long given up on setting up my tent: I happily slept in my car. If you do set up your tent, make sure and stake it down and add some rocks. And don't forget that sand/rainfly.
Free, convenient, and a great view; what more can you ask for? We came in late to Death Valley one night in November, crossing our fingers that we would be able to find somewhere to camp without a reservation. Low and behold, right after entering the park we stumbled upon Emigrant! Just to the left of the main road, this campground is a simple gravel lot with about ten unmarked spots around the perimeter. It was pretty full and we took the last open spot. There is a path leading to a bathroom with flush toilets (!!!), a couple of picnic tables, and some dumpsters for trash disposal. If you're coming into the park along highway 190 from the southwest, this is a prime place to set up for the night.