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Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

Newcastle upon Tyne
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Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

I'm staying in Bridgeport for a night after previously visiting Yosemite. I intend to travel from Bridgeport to Panamint Springs and staying overnight.

Looking for places to visit along 395 from Bridgeport to Panamint Springs. I've been looking on TA and thinking about Bodie Ghost Town then onto Mono Lake. If anyone has been to either of these I would be intereted in your views. Also is there anything else along the 395 route I could visit?

After staying at Panamint Spings my next stop is vegas. Any ideas for what to see as I travel through DV.

Also whats the best route out of DV to Vegas. Can I take the badwater road then over jubilee pass to Shoeshone. Or do you advise a different route.

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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1. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

I see you are in fact going to Yosemite. I'm presuming you'll take Tioga Pass, then head north to Bridgeport. Bodie is one of the best ghost towns in California. You get to it on Hwy 270 from 395, south of Bridgeport. The road is paved except for the last couple miles, which is rough gravel. Cars can make it, but very slowly (the biggest risk to passenger cars on such roads is flat tires).

www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=509

www.bodie.com/

A trip to Bodie might take 3 hours or so, including the time you spend there. With a car, you have to return the way you came; a 4wd vehicle could get you down Cottonwood Canyon to Hwy 167 and put you on 395 farther south, but it's slower so you wouldn't gain any time.

Mono Lake is a unique natural feature, not just any old lake. It exhibits several things: The interaction of water and mineral (tufa spires); the importance of different kinds of water for birds (Mono is very briny and is a major stop on the Pacific waterfowl migratory routes); and the interaction of man and nature (Mono Lake almost dried up because of the streams supplying it were diverted into the Los Angeles Aqueduct, and is recovering because of environmental activism and wise court decisions). A good visit to Mono Lake would take an hour or two. You can get to the shore easily from Hwy 395 at Cemetery Road, turning off to the County Park where a boardwalk goes by the tufa spires to the shore. There are two visitor centers, one on Hwy 395 just north of the town of Lee Vining and one (the Mono Lake Committee) in town.

www.monolake.org/

Also along Hwy 395, you can see Mammoth Lakes (all season outdoor resort town) and Devil's Postpile National Monument (volcanic and forest landscape). The biggest town in the Eastern Sierra is Bishop, which has all visitor services. On the east side of town is the Laws Museum, a re-created village of historic buildings, exhibits in the buildings, a railroad station, and trains.

www.lawsmuseum.org/

East of Big Pine, on a steep, narrow mountain road, is the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Some of the world'd oldest trees are there. These are not tall, stately trees like the sequoias, but stubby, hardy ones that endure the most extreme winter conditions a tree can take. They are beautiful trees, and looking at them, you know they are survivors.

Between Independence and Lone Pine are two sites of U.S. history interest. Manzanar was one of the WWII internment camps for Americans of Japanese descent. It was the biggest settlement in the Eastern Sierra in 1943 with 10,000 residents, all involuntary. It is now a historic site. A few miles south of it is a memorial to victims of a major earthquake in 1872, which scientists think was equal to the 1906 San Francisco disaster. Because the Eastern Sierra was sparsely populated, there were about 28 deaths instead of hundreds. From the historic marker, you can look west and see the vertical displacement caused by the quake; it also formed a lake south of Lone Pine that's big enough for small boats.

Lone Pine is the last town on 395 before Death Valley, and the gateway to both the lowest point in the Americas (DV) and the highest point in the Lower 48 states of the U.S. (Mt. Whitney). You can drive partway into the Whitney foothills and see the Alabama Hills, where many movies were made in the 1930s and 40s. Lone Pine has a movie museum dedicated to pictures made in the area.

If you need anything, you should get it in Lone Pine. The next town, Keeler, is a quaint historic hamlet, once a railroad town and still a site for harvesting industrial minerals off the Owens Lake bed, but it has no services. And Panamint Springs has limited services.

I commented more about PS on your other thread. I'll add more about DV later.

BTW, where are you staying in Bridgeport? I've stayed at several of the motels, and I like Virginia Creek Settlement, south of town on 395 (I have a review under Bridgeport). The camping cabins are built to resemble buildings in an Old West town.

www.virginiacrksettlement.com/ -

Newcastle upon Tyne
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2. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

Many thanks Frisco_Roadrunner for your very informative reply. Much aprecaited. I think I will print it out and take it with me.

Yes I will be taking the Tioga Pass from Yosemite to Bridgeport (any idea how long this will take) and i'm staying at Virginia Creek Settlement. I will look at your review under the Bridgeport section but from looking on the their website and reviews on TA it looks a good place to stay.

When I leave Bridgeport I do intend to go to Bodie Ghost Town then onto Mono Lake. Depending on how much time I spend at these locations I will look at the other suggestions you have provided on the way to DV.

Thanks again

San Francisco
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3. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

From Yosemite Valley to Lee Vining (Mono Lake) is 75-80 miles. It's a narrow mountain road, and you'll be going slower than freeway speed and stopping to look around and take pictures. To make it leisurely and enjoyable, I'd allow a couple hours to Lee Vining.

You'll have time to enjoy Mono Lake and both visitor centers if you wish. I mentioned one area to walk, north of town off Cemetery Road. That goes to a marsh where you may see waterfowl, but you probably won't be able to dip a toe in the water. Another place with drier terrain and less vegetation is on the south shore; take 395 south from Lee Vining, 120 east about 5 miles, and turn at Navy Beach Road. The tufa spires are on dry land that was once under water (tufa is formed by minerals interacting with water coming from underground springs). You can go right up to the water or sit on the beach.

A good place for lunch in Lee Vining is the Whoa Nellie Deli, on 120 just west of 395. It's in a gas station, but don't be fooled. This is not a typical American highway joint with vacuum-sealed bologna sandwiches on bread that tastes like paper, big bags of Doritos, and gigantic $0.75 cups of coffee from 5-gallon urns. The food would put some SF and LA restaurants to shame.

From Lee Vining to Hwy 270, the Bodie road, is about 20 miles, then 14 to the ghost town. The last couple are unpaved. Bodie is a fun place to go, and historically authentic because nothing has been restored or re-created. It is maintained in "arrested decay," meaning the State Park Dept. does only what is required to preserve it. There is a visitor center that sells postcards, books, souvenirs, and drinks; there is no food or gas in town.

Virginia Creek Settlement is just a few miles north of 270, on the west side of 395. Look for the replica water tank and windmill on the left. It has a good restaurant, where I had one of the best steaks of my life. If they offer a choice of a baked sweet potato, take it. After dinner, hang out by the creek. This is a small place, and some people say they can hear road sounds, but 395 is not that busy at night. Bridgeport also has restaurants; I like the historic Bridgeport Inn.

The Yosemite-Bridgeport segment of your trip will be fairly leisurely, probably under 150 miles of driving including short sightseeing detours like Navy Beach. You'll have time to really see things. Tioga Pass runs east-west, so if you drive it early, you'll be facing the sun. Since you don't really need to rush, I suggest enjoying sunrise and early morning in Yosemite (are you staying in the Valley? Be sure to have reservations!). Then head up to Tioga when the sun is up a little. You'll be more comfortable, and sun glare on such roads can also be a safety hazard.

From Bridgeport to Panamint Springs is about 200 miles, as I mentioned before, and another 30 to Stovepipe. You'll have time to stop and see a few of the sights along the way, since you'll have already been to Mono Lake. Other people will have preferences, but the ones I'd especially suggest are Mammoth Lakes and the scenic loop, Devil's Postpile if you have time, Laws Museum, and Mt. Whitney. The Bristlecone Pine Forest may take 2-3 hours because of the mountain road, so play that by ear.

San Francisco
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4. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

P.S. Rereading your post, I see you were planning to go to Bridgeport from Yosemite and THEN to Bodie and Mono Lake.

I didn't notice that before, but I've suggested an itinerary that goes to Mono Lake and Bodie BEFORE Bridgeport. You will have time to do this because the distances are not that long.

My itinerary will give you all day to sightsee between Lee Vining and Death Valley, since you will have been to Mono Lake and Bodie the day before.

Newcastle upon Tyne
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5. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

Frisco_Roadrunner, thanks for the info again. Realyl looking forward to visiting both Bodie and Mono Lake. They sound and look really impressive

I think I will try and catch the sunset over glacier point the day I travel from San Francisco to Yosemite. Hopefully leave San Fran early morning. Then I am staying over at Cedar Lodge in El Portal. Hopefully get into yosemite again the following morning to enjoy a full day on the valley floor before heading towards Lee Vining.

Thanks for the tip regarding Whoa Nellie Deli, I will definatlet check it out. Last few questions for you. Whats the best time to leave San Fran in the morning so its a bit less busy? Also any tips for place sto eat in El Portal

Stoke on Trent...
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6. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

I can certainly second the recommendation for the Virginia Creek Settlement. Road noise wasn't an issue and the owners are super friendly and helpful. It was lovely staying in somewhere so homely after all the other hotels we'd stayed in. The food is magnificent. and the rates are very reasonable.

San Francisco
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7. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

I didn't realize so many people had chosen Virginia Creek Settlement. It doesn't look like a lot from the road, and it's easy to mistake it for a restaurant only and decide not to stop.

BTW, (heehee) just so no one misunderstands, the British use of the word "homely" is almost totally opposite of the U.S. usage! When the British say something is homely, it's similar to homey or attractive. And that means people too, so if blue says you, your spouse, or your kids are "homely," don't feel insulted!

Washington State
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8. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

I have to admit that I was totally confused. Why would anyone *want* to stay someplace homely "lacking in physical beauty, dowdy, lacking stylishness." Now I get it!

Stoke on Trent...
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9. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

Big LOL !!! I haven't heard of that one :-) I never thought for one moment that homely could be derogatory. Trust me, it's all good about the VCreek Settlement

Link to photos …smugmug.com/MY-MOMENTS-IN-TIME/TRAVEL/Bridg…

Another of my long links :-(

Homely for us Brits is somewhere comfortable, friendly and just "home from home", not like a chain motel etc. The V G settlement is great for the money but 4 star it is not. My only gripe was the coffee maker situtated on a shelf above the toilet. Apart from that it suited us just fine.

10. Re: Bridgeport to Death Valley then onto Vegas

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