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California coastal trip but also want to go to Death Valley.

Belfast, United...
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California coastal trip but also want to go to Death Valley.

Okay we have two weeks from mid April flying into San Francisco and home from L.A. We're hiring a car and had planned to do the coastal drive after 4 nights in SF and ending with 3-4 nights in LA.

Now having done some research I really want to go to Death Valley spending one night there, but I can't work out what the best way to do this is. Either at the end of the coastal drive say heading from Santa Barbara to Death Valley and then back to LA the next day. Problem is it seems like I would be spending most of those two days driving spending a pointless night in Death Valley and not seeing much during the days.

Anybody any advise on a this trip to include Death Valley?

Edited: 25 February 2012, 13:05
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San Diego
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1. Re: California coastal trip but also want to go to Death Valley.

Hi Paul L,

Welcome to the forums.

One problem is that California is quite LARGE so driving distances will be big ones. You might consider leaving Death Valley for another visit?

You might consider going through Death Valley and then on to Las Vegas flying home from Las Vegas instead of LA.

You might do it the reverse starting in Las Vegas to Death Valley then out to the coast and up leaving out LA.

You could also cut down your days in either LA or San Francisco to be able to add in the time to drive more leisurely to Death Valley with an overnight there.

I think my point is that in only 2 weeks you cannot do EVERYTHING and still have a relaxed trip without too much driving.

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Cuenca, Ecuador
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2. Re: California coastal trip but also want to go to Death Valley.

Hello Paul L, and welcome to TripAdvisor and the California state forum. A special welcome to you as this is your very first day here with us!

Death Valley National Park is one of California's largest and most visited national parks. Lots of tourists from all continents, and those from Europe and the UK decide to visit and see the beauty God made there all the time. At night one may clearly see the starry skies and make out the constellations in the heavens, if one is aware of them. Death Valley is worth your time to visit, even for only a day or overnight. Many folks stay a few days longer and like to hike, tour via their automobile, and even play golf there! There's even a box canyon where four wheel drive vehicles may go four wheelin' through the area to and from Scotty's Castle. Lots of different activities to do.

If there is a way to adjust your itinerary to allow for a full day there with two nights stay, I'd do that. You'd see more, and feel less rushed. As you may have figured out, it takes approximately six hours of driving time to get from Santa Barbara to Death Valley NP. One consideration for you is to leave early in the morning, leaving the afternoon for sightseeing in Death Valley. Spend the night in lodging there - you would be wise to start looking at booking a lodging in the park ASAP as there are few alternatives nearby outside the park - and tour some more areas you haven't visited on your way out the next day.

The Death Valley National Park forum has been set up for travelers such as yourself. Link is here: tripadvisor.com/ShowForum-g143021-i2027-Deat… You'll notice the Top Questions info box at the top right hand side of the page - there's a hyperlinked question entitled "Coming from Las Vegas and have only one day - what to do?" Written for the Las Vegas tourist, it nevertheless gives you an idea of what could be done in one day. In your case, you could split the activities up into parts of two days, with your overnight lodging in between. Again, the information given is (for good reason) biased toward one entering the park from Las Vegas, and returning there afterwards. So you don't get a good perspective of the western end of the park as much from this link.

If you are concerned about the time spent driving, some shorter distance locations may be of interest: Randsburg, California near lil' ol' moi, where there is still gold mining going on and you are transported into the Old West - complete with wooden sidewalks. Link here: http://randsburg.com/ The Trona Pinnacles is a natural site I recommend in especially the cooler months, where tufa formations rise up out of the dry lakebed up to 140 feet! Site of several film shoots (Planet of the Apes, Battlestar Galactica, etc.) and popular shooting location for films and commercials. Link here: www.blm.gov/ca/st/en/fo/ridgecrest/trona.html

Hopefully you will consider heading east to the desert for Death Valley or another locale which would allow you to see something very different than what you are used to back home. Well worth it to see our different shades of brown. . . I take it you have many shades of green where you live. A day or two adventure in the Mojave Desert is one not to miss. Would love your feedback on the forum here, and I hope others have insights to share as well. Enjoy your travels with us.

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Scotty's Castle
Scotty's Castle
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Death Valley National Park, CA
Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara
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Trona Pinnacles
Trona Pinnacles
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Mojave Desert
Mojave Desert
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Belfast, United...
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3. Re: California coastal trip but also want to go to Death Valley.

Thanks for the replies! If I go, I think now i'll stay in Death Valley for two nights! I'll do a bit more research and it's probably down to how much I want to go to there.

If I was to come back to California I would come back in summer where roads are not shut in Yosemite and it's too hot for Death Valley. So I'm hoping to get to Death Valley this time over Yosemite.

The main problem is there is too much to do in California! But it's a good problem to have! :-)

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4. Re: California coastal trip but also want to go to Death Valley.

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