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Death Vally Day Trip-Any and All Advice Appreciated

Goodhue, MN
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Death Vally Day Trip-Any and All Advice Appreciated

My wife and I will be in Las Vegas at the beginning of October. We're planning on taking a day trip to Death Valley, leaving between 6-7am and being back to LV in the evening.

I'm looking for any advice or recommendations for the trip. We like to plan the heck out of things, so anything at all you could tell us would be welcome and appreciated. Looking especially to learn more on driving directions, what to for sure see, specific routes to take in the park, etc. We both have similar tastes in that we enjoy amazing sights as well as places/areas with historical significance (or just cool stories, whether true or legend).

Thank you for taking the time to read this and looking forward to receiving some help planning our trip!

Washington State
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for Yosemite National Park
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1. Re: Death Vally Day Trip-Any and All Advice Appreciated

Hi mnvetguy, and welcome to TripAdvisor forums.

In the upper right of every destination page is a box with these two important things: Top Questions and Itineraries. On this DVNP page, one of the Top Questions is "Coming from Las Vegas and have only one day - what to do?" Read thru that, and then let folks know which things appeal to you and how you'd like to tweak the plans to suit your travel style.

I'm a 'map' person, so here are two of my favorites.

Basic overview map americansouthwest.net/california/death_valle…

Detailed NPS map nps.gov/deva/…DEVAmap1a.pdf

Okay, one more ... driving directions ... nps.gov/deva/…20Vegas.pdf

Tucson, Arizona
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for Dusseldorf
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2. Re: Death Vally Day Trip-Any and All Advice Appreciated

Take a look at Frisco's many good suggestions using the search box.

ZB

3. Re: Death Vally Day Trip-Any and All Advice Appreciated

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San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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4. Re: Death Vally Day Trip-Any and All Advice Appreciated

The itinerary in that thread is just one suggestion. Not everyone is interested in going to Scotty’s Castle, but you said you like historic sites and offbeat legends, so you might enjoy it. It is in the far north end of the park and will add several hours to your tour. Keep that in mind if you also want to see some of the natural wonders in the park.

If you want to see the Castle and the ghost town of Rhyolite, the Beatty route is good. Another place to see in the north is Ubehebe (“you be he be”) Crater, a big crater formed by a volcanic steam explosion (molten magma meets groundwater), not an eruption.

If you decide to miss the Castle, I wouldn’t suggest 95 to Beatty. It’s 100 miles from Las Vegas, and it’s flatter, straighter, farther from the mountains, and less diverse and dramatic than anything within the park. If you don’t go to the Castle, I would enter from Pahrump, Bell Vista Road, Death Valley Junction, and CA 190. An alternative is to enter from Pahrump, NV 372, Shoshone, and Badwater Road, a scenic route but longer. I’d suggest Pahrump to Death Valley Junction coming in, and then deciding later if you time for a different return route.

If you come in on 190, your intro to the park can be Dante’s View; you’ll see the road just after crossing into the park boundary. You will pass an automated fee kiosk on 190; you can pay your park fee there or go on to the Visitor Center, but in either case it’s OK to go up to Dante’s View on your way. Dante’s is 5475’ above sea level and overlooks the Valley with the surrounding mountains and the salt flats directly below (Badwater, the low point, is 282’ below sea level).

Also along 190 are 20 Mule Team Canyon (one-way eastbound) and Zabriskie Point. A few miles west is the junction with Badwater Road. You’ll see the Furnace Creek Inn on your right, the quaint Spanish-style historic hotel built in the 1920s by the borax company to attract visitors to DV. It won’t open for the season until mid-October, but if you have time, the gardens are worth seeing. They are on a terraced hillside and have lush vegetation, stone walls and paths, a stream, seating areas, and grand views of the salt flats and Panamint range on the west side of the Valley. All water used around Furnace Creek, including domestic use, swimming pools, ornamental and landscaping, comes from springs in the mountains on the east side of the Valley. No water is imported. Pool drainage flows out for irrigation and even the septic ponds have been developed into a bird marsh on the golf course.

On the way to the Visitor Center, you’ll see Furnace Creek Ranch, the largest resort in the park. It has all services—lodging, food, pool, gas (expensive), golf, tennis, bicycle rentals, post office, and the Borax Museum.

Several of the major natural marvels of DV are on Badwater Road. You can either turn left to see those or stay on 190 for the Visitor Center. The VC is only a mile farther, and all the main sights along Badwater Road are in the northern 17 miles, so these are manageable distances. I’d suggest the VC first, so you can ask questions, get your park map and newspaper, and see the new park movie. This is where you can pay the park entrance fee if you did not do so at a kiosk or don’t have an annual Federal recreation pass.

For folks with limited time, I suggest seeing the sights on Badwater Road and turning back after Badwater. The rest of the road is beautiful and scenic, but the specific natural wonders (Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, Natural Bridge, Artist’s Drive, and Golden Canyon) are in the first 17 miles. I mentioned them in the order you’d see them going south and then back north. You can then return to 190 to go to the Devil’s Cornfield and Sand Dunes. Other places on the west are Stovepipe Wells Village, a smaller and more rustic resort (food and other services; gas is less expensive than at FC) and Mosaic Canyon, a unique and beautiful hike where you can see polished canyon walls that look like smooth marble and broken rock floors resembling mosaics.

BTW, both Furnace Creek and Stovepipe sell pool passes to the public for $4 or $5. If you’ve always wanted to go swimming in the desert, bring your suits and towels (I’m not sure they rent towels).

Once you know your trip dates, check sunrise and sunset times. If your time frame allows, you might be able to see one or both somewhere in the park. Because of the geologic makeup and topography, most of the more accessible great views face west, but in truth, there are no bad views in Death Valley. Either sunrise or sunset will be gorgeous anywhere, and so will stargazing if you can stay late enough. Early October is still “summer” for most visitors (the average historic daily high for every day through 10/21 is a least 100ºF). But it will be cooler at higher elevations, so bring a windbreaker. The rule of thumb is that every 1000’ of elevation means 3-5ºF difference.

5. Re: Death Vally Day Trip-Any and All Advice Appreciated

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