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Death Valley part of Road Trip this September....

Hampshire
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196 posts
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Death Valley part of Road Trip this September....

Hi all,

Apologies if this has been answered before and also if I'm posting in the wrong place (hopefully not)!

We are planning a road trip and are flying from London to Las Vegas 23rd Sep and staying there for 4 nights. Then setting off very early and driving to GC South Rim and staying there 1 night, before heading back to LV the next afternoon. Stay in LV one more night and then travel through DV to Yosemite where we'll stay 2 nights. Then down to Cambria (probably via Fresno). Travel up the coast to Monterey and then on to SF for 4 nights. Then home!

I was hoping for an opinion or two on the Death Valley leg of the journey (but any other suggestions for the rest of the trip are most welcome too).

My question regarding Death Valley is that we have thought of 3 options:

1: leave LV and drive through DV in one day and stay somewhere like Bishop for a night before heading onwards to Yosemite. This option would give us longer somewhere else on the trip, perhaps Grand Canyon,Yosemite or the coast.

2: Depart from LV and stay in DV (Furnace Creek perhaps) for one night. Then head straight to Yosemite the next day - thought this will be a long drive i'm thinking?

3: leave LV, stay in DV for one night and then stay another night somewhere else on the way to Yosemite.

Is driving from LV and through DV to somewhere like Bishop in one day too much? This is currently the option i'm leaning towards... but can easily be changed. I just can't decide whethere we are better off spending an extra night in yosemite or whether we should stay in DV.

thanks for your thoughts!!

Fremont, California
Destination Expert
for San Francisco
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1. Re: Death Valley part of Road Trip this September....

I like your plan of Death Valley to Bishop...

more to do in Bishop than Lone Pine.

Puts you right at the base of the mountains so your next day is scenic the entire time.

Excellent choice!

By the way with 60 more minutes in the car though you could get used to the altitude and stay at one of the places in Mammoth Lakes - scenic mountain area....(just thought I'd mention).

In my humble opinion however, if you plan to spend a lot of time in Death Valley either place works. The roads are good even for night driving and the weather in September is fabulous....generally sunny days with less people than in the summer.

tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g60791-Mammoth_Lakes…

Hampshire
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196 posts
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2. Re: Death Valley part of Road Trip this September....

thanks Mini!

Do you mean that you think we should stay one night in DV (Furnace Creek) and then another night somewhere like Bishop/Mammoth Lakes?

I'm wondering if it's feasible to drive from LV to Bishop in one day making some short stops at scenic points in DV National park? Would it be too rushed? That way we could potentially stay an extra night in Yosemite.

thanks for your thoughts!!

San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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3. Re: Death Valley part of Road Trip this September....

I would always suggest that people stay at least one night in Death Valley, because I love it. No, I'm lying. It's actually because it is an incredible place for sunrise, sunset, and stargazing, not to mention all the unique natural marvels it contains. The problem with Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Yosemite is a true embarrassment of riches. No matter how anyone organizes their time, it won’t be enough to do justice to all of them.

#1: If you drive through DV without an overnight stop, I suggest Lone Pine to stay over. This gives you more time in DV, since Lone Pine is closer. Bishop is a bigger town with more lodging, restaurants, and shops, but I'm not so sure it has more for visitors to see and do than Lone Pine. Lone Pine is the gateway to Mt. Whitney as well as DV, and you can drive up to the climbers’ base camp at 8300’ above sea level and see stupendous views (road is safe and paved, but may not be for the acrophobic). Along the way is the Alabama Hills movie filming area where many Western, adventure, and sci-fi pictures have been made (2 miles west of town, on the north side of the road, on the way up to Whitney Portal). Lone Pine has a fun movie museum focusing on the relationship between Hollywood and the Sierra Nevada and Mojave Desert. Manzanar, a WWII internment camp for Americans of Japanese ancestry, is 10 miles north of town and is now a historic site administered by the National Park Service. Lone Pine has a charming downtown full of indie businesses that serve visitors well as they maintain the local flavor.

My favorite visitor thing in Bishop is the Laws Museum, a few miles east of town on Hwy 6. It’s called a railroad museum, but it’s actually a "village" of old houses collected around the Eastern Sierra, brought here and filled with exhibits and artifacts. The central theme of the museum is the historic railroad depot and trains. Laws was once a station on the old Carson and Colorado RR, which operated around eastern California and western Nevada and served mining areas and rural communities for about 80 years, up to 1960.

#2. This is way too long a drive, considering how scenic the entire Eastern Sierra is. You would be rushing past a lot of beautiful scenery and some unique places that you might want to stop and see. In addition, you would be approaching Tioga Pass, one of the most dramatic drives in the West, in late afternoon. This is a steep, narrow, twisty mountain road, and the afternoon sun will be directly in your face. For both safety reasons and maximum enjoyment of the scenery, most regional regulars would not suggest this.

#3. If you decide on this, Furnace Creek may be too soon to stop over. I'd suggest that you enter DV, see the sights on the east and south (Dante’s View, Zabriskie Point, the Furnace Creek area including the Visitor Center, the sights along Badwater Road, and maybe Harmony Borax Works, Salt Creek, and Devil’s Cornfield, then stay over at Stovepipe Wells Village. If it is early enough (long days; it will still be DST), see the Sand Dunes (wonderful for sunset). This will allow you to see most of the major DV places of interest before leaving in the morning for Yosemite.

You could also try for Panamint Springs, a smaller rustic resort 30 miles (about 40 minutes) west of Stovepipe Wells. This puts you yet farther along toward Yosemite but would make for a longer day in DV, and you might feel rushed in your sightseeing. Panamint Springs is a cozy place but shorter on amenities than the other resorts. IIRC, all the rooms are 2-person only, except the family cottage, so a larger party would need multiple rooms. The food is great, but there is no pool, which might be an important factor in late September when the weather is still hot.

Hampshire
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4. Re: Death Valley part of Road Trip this September....

Hi Frisco!

Thanks so much for your input! Really kind of you to offer so much advice! I'm just about to start looking at Lone Pine as a place to stay for the evening, it sounds like there would definitely be things worth us seeing there!!

Also the tip about the sun is definitely valuable, I can imagine the last thing we'd want is the sun in our eyes for that secioin of the journey! It's so exciting properly planning it now - I've always wanted to do this trip!!

thanks again, very much appreciated.

Eliza

5. Re: Death Valley part of Road Trip this September....

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