We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Death Valley or Joshua Tree?

Espoo, Finland
6 posts
Save Topic
Death Valley or Joshua Tree?


We are planning a trip to the West Cost and Las Vegas in the mid October. Our plan is to drive to Las Vegas from Los Angeles, visit Grand Canyon and drive to San Diego after that. If we drive to Vegas via Death Valley, we have to stay a night in Furnace Creek and when we drive to San Diego from Arizona, a one day drive would be atleast 7 hours, so a night somewhere on the way would be a good idea. So my question is: Is Death Valley worth the visit and an extra night on the road or will Joshua Tree be as good of a place to visit? We are both light hikers, so we won't be doing any major hiking in either place.

Thank you in advance :)

Cuenca, Ecuador
Destination Expert
for California Desert
Level Contributor
1,438 posts
59 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Death Valley or Joshua Tree?

Hello OutlawPuppet, and welcome to TripAdvisor and the California forum.

Both Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park are great places to spend time in on a vacation, especially in the less heat intense seasons of the year, which October will be for both parks.

Depends on what you, the traveler, want to do and see. If you want to see Joshua Trees, Yucca trees and other desert plant life, rocks and desert scrub and wildlife there, go to Joshua Tree NP. If you want to see panoramic valleys surrounded by mountains twice as high as the Grand Canyon is deep, sand dunes, colorful rock vistas and dry lake beds, go to Death Valley NP. Here's the National Park Service (NPS) visitor's brochure about Joshua Tree NP: nps.gov/jotr/…2012guide.pdf and here's the NPS visitor's brochure about Death Valley NP: nps.gov/deva/upload/Visitor-Guide-2012-2013-… Notice the colorful photographs in each brochure, as well as the descriptions on what do do with the available time a tourist has while there.

If it were me, I'd make room for a visit to Death Valley National Park. You've come all this way from Finland, and this is an outstanding venue not to miss. October is a great month to visit when it's not too hot anymore, and the tourists start coming back to Death Valley.

I'll even give you a recommended route to get there from Los Angeles: take Interstate 5/Golden State Freeway north to California State Route 14/Antelope Valley Freeway. At Agua Dulce Canyon Road, exit and turn left to go to Vasquez Rocks (Los Angeles County) Park. Link here: …lacounty.gov/wps/…Vasquez_Rocks_Natural_Area Vasquez Rocks has been the site of the filming of many films and television shows such as Star Trek, The Flinstones, and The Lone Ranger. . . you may well recognize the place! Well worth the stop to see on the way.

Get back northbound on CA Route 14/Antelope Valley Freeway and stop off in Rosamond at Rosamond Blvd. and turn left for the Albertson's supermarket, and several fast food restaurants (Jack in the Box, McDonald's, Taco Bell, and our local restaurant chain, Tom's Hamburgers) and get some lunch.

Travel on via CA Route 14/Antelope Valley Freeway to Mojave, going through town there, and take CA Route 58 east to US Route 395. Go north on US 395 to Randsburg about 20 miles north of Kramer Junction (CA 58/US 395 intersection) and look for the green and white Caltrans highway sign for Randsburg/Johannesburg. Randsburg is a great old still alive gold mining town with an Old West look to it and even wooden sidewalks and a saloon! There is a lunch available in the saloon, but you have to order ahead of time to have it there for you. . . which is why I recommended you stop off in Rosamond for lunch to take with you or eat there or on the way. Fun place, laid back people, and a place that time has forgot. Well worth the stop. Link here: www.desertusa.com/magfeb98/Randsburg/Ran.html

Take US 395 north to Ridgecrest (all traveler services including food) and take California State Route 178 east to Trona, Searles Dry Lake, and beyond. . . stop at the Panamint Valley overlook past Trona a few miles (the overlook will be obvious to you once there) and take a photo or two. At the "V" shaped intersection in Panamint Valley, take a slight turn to the right for Trona Wildrose Road to California State Route 190 east and Towne Pass. Down from Towne Pass is Stovepipe Wells, the sand dunes, and on to Furnace Creek Inn, which is a complex of buildings for the traveler staying for the day or overnight. You're now at your overnight destination.

On your way to Death Valley, you will have seen, from the geographic Antelope Valley north and eastward in our Mojave Desert, tons of Joshua trees and Yucca trees. If you still want to visit Joshua Tree NP for the rugged beauty and quiet out of doors, that would still be a good thing. If it's just for the plants, though, you'll get that on the way to Death Valley, however. FYI.

Not a lot of hiking, and a whole lot of sightseeing here for you! Hope this was helpful. Let us know here on the forums if you have more questions. . . the forum members here are ready to be of help. Enjoy your travels with us.

Destination Expert
for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
17,515 posts
14 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Death Valley or Joshua Tree?

How many days total do you have? You might be able to see both.

On the way from LA to Vegas you can overnight in Death Valley. I assume you plan to spend at least a night in Vegas. Then drive the 4.5-5 hours to GCNP.

Be sure to get reservations inside the park at GC. They book up to a year in advance.


After staying at the GC take I-40 and cut across Amboy Road to Joshua Tree. Enter via the north, do the top loop and exit the west. Spend a night in Palm Springs.

PS to San Diego is about 2-2.5 hours.

Espoo, Finland
6 posts
Save Reply
3. Re: Death Valley or Joshua Tree?

Wow, thanks for the great advice! Very helpful and lots to think about in planning our trip :) The route and tips Underdog_SPP gave about Death Valley are very insightful and I think we are going to follow them and visit DV. And thank you dez40 for the tip about GC reservations, have to check them out. Not sure yet about the route we will take, but these tips will be remembered in planning :)

4. Re: Death Valley or Joshua Tree?

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

This topic has been closed to new posts due to inactivity. We hope you'll join the conversation by posting to an open topic or starting a new one.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 17 May 2014, 05:18