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2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

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2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

hi, i'm taking a road trip in a couple weeks (mid-may) -- one driving segment is from bakersfield to furnace creek. my route questions are:

1.) should i drive from bakersfield to indian wells/ridgecrest area via 178 (via "lake isabella") -OR- down 58 to mojave area, then north up 14?

2.) should i drive from indian wells/ridgecrest area via 178/Trona-Wildrose up to where it meets 190 -OR- should i take 395 up to where it meets 190?

i would be interested if any particular route is best, or if it doesnt matter. if the factors of a.) speed, b.) safety, c.) "scenic-ness" are different enough to make a person choose one route over another... i have never been to this part of the country, so i'm just making judgments by google maps & reading online forums.

thanks!

Cuenca, Ecuador
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1. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

Hello newyoika, and welcome to the Death Valley National Park forum.

This is my part of the country. . . the southern San Joaquin (pronounced "San Walkeen") Valley and the Mojave Desert. The Mojave is my home. I know all these routes and more.

Do you like driving a slower pace and seeing Lake Isabella (a man made lake on the Kern River) or would you rather get your kicks on the modern version of US Route 466 (modern day California State Route 58)? Lots of people take CA Route 58 from Bakersfied to Barstow - automobile drivers and truckers alike - and this is your "fast" route to the town of Mojave.

The alternative, as I kinda teased about, is to take the slow original route of what was once signed as US Route 466 as much as possible. The intact part from downtown Bakersfield signed "Edison Highway" east past downtown Tehachapi is interesting for two reasons: it passes by the National Cesar Chavez Center in Keene, just west of Tehachapi http://www.nationalchavezcenter.org/ and takes you to overlooks of the world famous Tehachapi Loop, which is a 19th Century engineering marvel tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g33163-d15… between Keene and Tehachapi. Tehachapi itself is a charming small city, incorporated in 1909, with a restored "old town" and park complete with gazebo. Real Middle America here, and old historic California the way I remembered it in my youth. This routing is of course historic for another important reason. . . this is the way the fictional Joads of John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" came west to the Weedpatch vicinity to conclude their story of leaving the Dust Bowl of Oklahoma for the rich agricultural fields found in the Golden State. You may tour and see a presentation of the Weedpatch agricultural workers' camp http://www.weedpatchcamp.com/ by calling (661) 832-1299.

Depending on your interests, any one of these three routes (CA Route 178 through Lake Isabella to Ridgecrest, modern day CA Route 58 east to Mojave and California State Route 14 "The Midland Trail" north to Ridgecrest, and the old unsigned US Route 466/Old Highway 58) would be good. Your pick.

Now for the easier part of your two part question: I've taken both routes east of Ridgecrest, and I can tell you without question that Trona Wildrose Road beats the US Route 395 option hands down based on travel time and scenic beauty. Great overlook east of Trona of Panamint Valley on Trona Wildrose road after this route loses its CA Route 178 signage. The overlook will become apparent to you upon driving it. . . it's several miles east of Trona just past the left curve in the road. Beautiful and gorgeous! The roads you will take here are all paved, by the way. . . not to worry. . . and have dirt shoulders.

East of Ridgecrest and before Trona lie the Trona Pinnacles, a series of over 500 tall (and small) tufa formations on Searles Dry Lake like what is also found in Mono Lake in the Eastern Sierra Nevada Mountains. Depending on if you have time and want to see them, the middle of May would be a good time temperaturewise for a viewing. All dirt surface to travel on, and if it rains, don't go. . . you'll be stuck in the mud. Tow trucks are in Ridgecrest, and take a while to get to you. Trona Pinnacles is where many major motion pictures have been shot, including the Battle of the Apes. www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/trona.html

A comprehensive answer to your question, to be sure. Hope this helps, and enjoy your travels with us.

Uden, The...
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2. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

Great info by Underdog as usual!

For scenic beauty I'd take the route along Lake Isabella. From Ridgecrest to Trona and north of Trona you'll find the ghossttown of Ballarat. In the hinterland Manson had his hideout but don't go there. From Ballarat you'll have 2 choices. You can drive Panamint Valley rd to 190 or via Wildrose. Both are paved but the road via Wildrose has some bumbs and potholes and a soft shoulders so stay in the middle of this (deserted) rd. It's also restricted for vehicles over 25' in length. Anyway you can make a short sidetrip to Charcoal Killns. Road is gravel for the last miles but you easily can drive. Wildrose rd would be my first pick between Trona and 190.

Tet

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3. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

Good catch by Tet. . . Trona Wildrose Road would be my choice of route from its intersection with Panamint Valley Road northward. Stay to the right to stay on Trona Wildrose Road (it's a "v" shaped intersection and thus a slight nonobvious one that can come up on you without you realizing it).

Panamint Valley Road gets less use than Trona Wildrose Road primarily to the fact that it's not the direct route to Towne Pass on California State Route 190 and east to Furnace Creek. The bumps and potholes Tet described, and the gravel road portion is due to its lesser used status. FYI.

San Francisco
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4. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

A couple of other questions to help us:

Where are you going after Furnace Creek? Are you returning to central California, going on to Las Vegas, or ? And how much time do you have to spend in Death Valley? Are you staying at Furnace Creek or elsewhere in the park?

Knowing these things will enable us to make more personalized suggestions and help you make the most of your time and mileage.

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5. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

thanks for the detailed advice! i think i will stop at mesquite dunes briefly, then spend the night in furnace creek, then spend the next day sightseeing in the area, and finally continue onto vegas after that.

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6. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

i ended up taking 58 East to 14 North which turns into 395 North and i was very happy with this route. i felt safe traveling alone on these major highways and i found the whole route quite beautiful. i decided to go all the way up to Lone Pine (about 40 minutes extra drive time) just to see Mt. Whitney and then continued on down 136 to 190. i really enjoyed the whole drive.

Uden, The...
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7. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

Thanks for the feedback. We all love Lone Pine!

Amsterdam, The...
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8. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

Would you also reccommend this road when travelling with kids (9 and 7 years old) in mid April?

Amsterdam, The...
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9. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

Our plan is to travel from Las Vegas to Grand Canyon (via Kingman and Williams), next to Zion and/or Bryce. Next stop is Furnice Creek Ranch before heading towards the coast (this part of our trip will take 9 to 10 days). We are travelling with 2 kids and we have never been to this part of the US.

What is the best/most interesting way to travel from Furnice Creek to Santa Monica?

Should we go west through Death Valley (via 190) or south via 178 and 127 to get to highway 15 (and visit Calico ghost town as well)?

So many choices, so much to see!

Thank you for your thoughts.

Carmen

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10. Re: 2 route questions from bakersfield to furnace creek

Carmen, welcome to the forum.

This is an old thread and I suggest to open a new topic "Ask a question" on the Road Trips forum as you are covering several states.

tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowForum-g1-i12567-Road_T…

Suggest to drive through DVNP on hw190 and see sights on your way. But if you want to visit Galico ghosttown via 127 and I15 will be faster. Suggest to stay 2 nights in Death Valley.

Tet

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