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How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

ri
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How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

I promised my girl I would take her campervan camping in late March to Death Valley and maybe Joshua Tree. We have up to ten days to do it in. At first we thought we'd start from L.A., but we can't find a suitable van there, nor can we find one in Vegas -- we didn't want a class B and we can't stomach the big color ones -- and we've begun to argue and bicker. Now I just want to make her happy, if i can, and still not break the bank.

So, what about if we flew to Vegas (from RI), rented a car and just drove from spot to spot staying in hotels? Could we wing it or would we need reservations? Could we find some pretty cheap places to stay? Would it be fun?

We would be leaving toward the end of this month, around the 18th or so. Not far off now!!!

I know I could search through past messages here and probably get the answers. But I have to get down to work so I can make the necessary money to make this happen, if indeed I can make it happen.

This morning she said, "I'm given up. I don't care anymore."

It took me a while, but I got her more or less back on track. Now I want to take care of things best I can and make sure we don't get all stressed out like this again, at least as concerns this particular trip.

Did I mention that the trip is my Xmas gift to her? Ooof, some gift. Last night she was in tears. I feel terrible.

Suggestions anyone?

Washington State
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1. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

I checked Stovepipe Wells Resort (in Death Valley) yesterday and they had a room available on Saturday, April 3. Perhaps there is a room available in March; check to see what you can find at this reasonably priced basic place. Then build a trip around that. Stay someplace fun & nice in Las Vegas. March 30th is a full moon, so plan a romantic moonlight hike toward the end of your vacation (March 18-28?)

More desert time? How about Mojave? Maybe a winter drive to the Grand Canyon (in the totally other direction) would be fun for the two of you ~ spend at least one night! Remember, Las Vegas is less expensive during the week.

Would it be fun? I think so.

We're going to be tent camping around the same time, so if you're camping people, it's certainly do-able. But some folks really need walls around them. Motels can work, but I really think reservations are a must.

San Francisco
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2. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

Winging it in Death Valley in March would be very iffy, especially if this turns out to be a great wildflower spring as some people think it might. There are places you can walk in and take a chance, like Beatty NV, maybe Shoshone or Lone Pine CA, but again, it's a chance you take.

If you can get a vacancy at Stovepipe Wells for any of the days you've planned on, I agree with the Family; take it and use it as the foundation. Maybe when you get there, you'll learn they have other vacancies, or someone's plans will change and they'll cancel out, etc. But grab the bird in hand while you can.

With a day or two in DV, you could include some time in Las Vegas as Family said. Not far from Las Vegas are Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and Valley of Fire State Park if you want to go about an hour east of town. As for Joshua Tree, other people here are better experts on it than I am, so I'll defer to them.

Let's not let a wonderful thing like vacation, particularly to a grand place like Death Valley, cause stress. Don't get too fixated or obsessed, try to help your gf not to, and mentally focus on the good time you'll have. Anticipate the wildflowers, going to the Sand Dunes and howling at the full moon, and enjoying the peaceful natural setting (there is not one electric traffic light in Death Valley). Once you finally get here, or to any of the other magnificent natural areas of the Mojave Desert, you'll feel like a brand new person :)

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3. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

Frisco, what an absolutely great post. Floete, listen up, Frisco is really giving you some good advice here. March is wildflower time in DVNP, and even if there are not a lot of flowers, there will be some and people will come. So the recommendation to not go without reservations is really important. Beatty is not far out of the park, and you can easily get to all of DV from there. It is not a pretty place, nor even a registered town as Frisco will tell you, but there are some low cost places there that might have vacancies. Another option, try Panamint Springs Resort. It is very basic accomodations, but clean, a good restaurant and bar, and in the middle of the desert, and we find it romantic ( not everyone might). Breathe deep, and take a few steps back and make sure that you are both really wanting this trip. Remember, getting to DV via planes, trains, and automobiles can be stressy. Once you arrive the stress will lift if you are both wanting to be there. Have fun.

ZB

ri
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4. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

Thanks! Great stuff!

Now, here's what's new. We have found a suitable camper van to rent. It's in L.A. So the current plan is to either head straight to DV from L.A., or to go to Joshua Tree first, then make our way up to DV.

Again, the big question is the same: will we be able to find places to camp with making reservations first? We really are wing-it types (well, my girlfriend is; me, not so much :-)) but it's up to me to make sure we don't get stranded sans head-resting spot.

Thoughts?

BTW/ We're much less stressed out now that we were two days ago. Whew!

Thanks!

Uden, The...
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5. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

<<The big color ones...>> Do you mean this? http://www.escapecampervans.com/

Can't help much on campgrounds. Joshua Tree NP and DV can be a popular places for springbreak.

Don't know what time you arrive LA.

LA to DV via I405, I5, ca14, us 395 and 190 (or via Ridgecrest via 178 first) will take up to 6 hours with no stops so that probably will be a too long day first. LA to Joshua Tree NP app. is 3 hours so maybe:

Day 1: Arrive LA. Stay overnight.

Day 2: P/u campervan, take your time, stock up and drive to Joshua Tree NP

Day 3: Joshua Tree NP

Day 4: Joshua Tree NP, Amboy road to Amboy. See Amboy Crater and stop at Roy's Cafe. Then a short distance on National Trail Hw (old R66) and turn left on Kelbaker Road into Mojave National Preserve. There are some campgrounds in Mojave but they are out of your way to the east. This is a basic one but I'v never been there: totalescape.com/active/…kelsodepot.html

So if this it too adventurous drive to Kelso Dunes and Kelso Depot. The depot is a must stop imo. Then drive Kelbaker road along Cinder Cone Lava Beds to Baker. Maybe this is an option to stay overnight: www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx…

Day 5: From Baker/Mojave via ca127 to Soshone. From Soshone take 178 (Jubilee Pass road into Badwater Rd.) to Ashford Mills and to Badwater and on.

Day 6 and 7: Death Valley NP

Day 8: Leave DV via 190 via Stovepipe Wells and then

Either: Emigrant Canyon Road to Wildrose. This is a more mountainous road but you can drive it with a campervan. It's very scenic. A short distance (app. 4 miles) can be a bit rough but still paved. Not allowed with vehicles more than 25 ft. Then drive to Trona and Ridgecrest to stay for the night.

Or: Drive 190 up to Panamint Springs and take 178 (Panamint Valley Road) to Trona and Ridgecrest.

Day 9: Drive to Los Angeles, deliver CV.

Day 10: Home.

Writing all of this makes me want to go back in a heartbeat. Like the other posters on this thread, we all are great fans of this area. Visiting Joshua Tree, Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley in one trip is awesome. Have a fantastic vacation.

I'm sure my fellow posters will give you more info esp. on campgrounds in DV.

Tet

ri
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6. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

Oh, wow, that is utterly fantastic. And I thank you deeply for taking the time to write it all down. It really gives me an armature on which to hang my plans for the trip. Bueno!

Now, can anybody weigh in on whether we need to make camp ground reservations?

More and more, it's beginning to seem like a good idea....

Washington State
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7. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

Help us out by sharing which company you have selected. We often get questions from travelers looking for small 2 person campers, and EscapeCamperVan and Wicked are the only two I've heard about. It would be great for us to have another option to suggest to travelers.

There is only one campground in DV that takes reservations, Furnace Creek. www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/camping.htm We're traveling in April and hoping to be lucky and stay in two other ones. But as Frisco_RR has said, a great wildflower year may bring lots of people out to the deserts.

ri
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8. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

glad to give you the name of who we're going to use. to tell you the truth, it's actually not quite in business in LA yet. They worked out of San Fran for a long time but are just about to open their doors down south. They're expecting final approval from the picky picky government folks later *today* and I hope to be able to make reservations tonight. The great thing is, their vans don't have any of those crazy icky graphics on them. See www.lostcampersusa.com .

San Francisco
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9. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

There have been a couple of recent threads about camping in Death Valley with lots of detail. Have you checked any of them? They may answer most of your questions.

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143021-i2027-k343…

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g143021-i2027-k343…

Edited: 05 March 2010, 15:42
Mission Viejo...
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10. Re: How to do DV, late March, from LV. BIG help needed!

Look into Mitchell Caverns State Park south of Baker and north of I-40. The caverns have some pretty good cave formations. If you've been to Carlsbad or Mammoth it's probably anti-climatic but it's definitely a hidden gem.

Scotty's Castle at the north end of DV is also worthwhile. There are house tours and "tech" tours. The latter go through the guts of the estate which has some very innovative features. It tends to fill up fast so get there early. If the morning tour is full sign up for the afternoon tour. Fill in the time by driving out to Ubehebe Crater, the trip out and back will be about 2-3 hours.