No worries on "fancy" in Baker.
Since Bun Boy closed, the Mad Greek is my favorite followed by fast food joints Carl's Jr, Del Taco and Quiznos.
Mostly fast food joints and a few diners at least they have air conditioning
Ok, thanks both of you. At least they have some fast food joints. The kids will be happy.
Have you checked the Baker forum to see about the restaurants? Chuck.
Definitely take the kids to the Alien Jerky store...... They will love it there..
I don’t want to second-guess your itinerary, since I don’t know all the details of your trip, but I am curious about your overall route. Going from Anaheim to Baker to Death Valley keeps you outside the park for much of the way. The scenery along I-15, once you’re out of the San Bernardino Mountains and national forests, is not very exciting. I-15 is all freeway with nothing very unique to see and mostly distant views of the mountains. It’ss the main road from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and has lots of truck and insane car traffic.
Baker is a pit. Its claim to fame is the world’s tallest thermometer (134 feet, in honor of the world record high temperature, which was in Death Valley)—but the thermometer hasn't worked for some time. I don't know if it's an electrical malfunction or maybe it just cost too much to keep it lit. It blew over in a storm a few years ago and was put back up with heavy-duty reinforced concrete, so it would cost more to get rid of it than to make it work again (and then Baker would have no claim to fame at all). Baker once had a Motel 6 and a state prison, but they both closed. What can I say except that you have to pity a town that can’t even hold on to a Motel 6 or a state prison?
Are you headed to Las Vegas next, or back toward central California? If your next destination is west of Death Valley (e.g. Yosemite), then entering from Baker and seeing all the sights on the way west would make more sense. If you’re headed east, I have another suggestion.
I’ll use Furnace Creek in DV as a point of reference; it’s the center of most visitor activity, where the park visitor center and the main resort complex are. If you went from Anaheim to Baker and then up Hwy 127 to Shoshone and Furnace Creek, the distance is approximately 290-300 miles, depending on whether you go via Death Valley Junction or Badwater Road. Most of this route is not in Death Valley and you would miss some stunning scenery west of the park and in the western part of the park itself.
If you chose instead to turn off I-15 near Hesperia and take Hwy 395 to Olancha, and then turn east on Hwy 190, you would go along the eastern wall of the Sierra Nevada, and the landscapes are more diverse and dramatic. On the way, there is a cluster of quaint historic mining towns on or near 395, not quite ghost towns but still very atmospheric—Red Mountain, Johannesburg, and Randsburg. They are real towns but will remind you of your favorite American Western movies. If you have time and can add just 25 miles more, you can pass Olancha and go to Lone Pine to see Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the US outside Alaska; and from Lone Pine you can take Hwy 136 to Death Valley. This route (not including the ghost town and Lone Pine detours, which don’t add much distance) is almost identical in mileage to the Baker route, and there is much more to see. And I’ve only mentioned the places outside Death Valley proper.
By taking this western route, several of the major park sights will be right on your way: Father Crowley Vista Point (dramatic, colorful canyon view), Mosaic Canyon (gorgeous hike in a canyon with polished marble-like walls), Stovepipe Wells, the Mesquite Sand Dunes, Devil’s Cornfield, Salt Creek, and Harmony Borax Works. If Las Vegas is your next destination, my suggestion is especially practical, because it puts you in the right direction the entire way. If you enter from Baker, all the sites I mentioned are north and west of Furnace Creek, and if you want to see them, you would have to go up there and then backtrack later toward Las Vegas.
There is plenty more to see in Death Valley, which is the size of Luxembourg and Lebanon combined. Traipse over to that forum if you want to start a conversation about how you can spend 2 days, 3 days, or a week enjoying Death Valley.
Great post, Frisco R_R.
Whatever route you take (and what F-R said is the best way to do it) you really won't have much time for DVNP either via Baker or via 395 and I don't consider it daytrips either. Can't you stay overnight in between (yes, I know it will be hot but so is Las Vegas).
Hello Lloydy311266, and welcome to the California forum.
Frisco_Roadrunner gave you her classic essay response. This is the way to go for the Summer and hotter times of the year to get the best "bang for the buck" in terms of sightseeing for the typical international traveler, as you are.
I just want to mention that Randsburg has a real "Old West" feel for the place, and even wood boardwalks instead of concrete sidewalks. Dirt roads, and is still a real true to life gold mining town that mines the stuff to this very day. Well worth the visit to this laid back place. There's a saloon and general store in town, and if you want, if you order ahead, they will have food for you and your family while there. Link here: tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g32947-d45…
If you want modern digs, then ~15 miles up US Route 395 is Ridgecrest, with all traveler services, modern, up to date, and air conditioned. You could stay the night here if desired as per Tet's advice (again, we don't know your itinerary in detail). This would set you up nicely for a full day of sightseeing in Death Valley National Park with your evening in Las Vegas. Or pass through Ridgecrest and spend less overall time in Death Valley NP, considering your stated start from Anaheim. Your choice.
Please let us know how we may be of further help to you in your travel plans. As you can see we here on the forums are a lively bunch and love to be of help.
Lloyd, just so you (and others) are aware:
Ridgecrest is indeed one of the gateway towns for Death Valley, but currently you cannot go directly into the park from the town because both roads from Ridgecrest and Trona (Panamint Valley and Wildrose-Emigrant) are closed due to summer flashflood damage. The storms were in July, but the roads were so badly undercut that they will need major structural work. Neither is part of Federal or State highway systems and neither is an essential link between major population centers, so they are not at the top of the maintenance priority list.
You can still stay in Ridgecrest, which as Underdog says is one of the major towns for visitors west of DV. It is just off Hwy 395 and will not be terribly inconvenient. Then you have to return to 395 and go north to either Hwy 190 at Olancha or Hwy 190 at Lone Pine. This will not involve a lot of extra distance.
Randsburg has two historic hotels, where you can stop over if you want something offbeat: the Cottage Inn and Randsburg Hotel. I have stayed at the Cottage Inn a couple of times but not the Randsburg Hotel; the Cottage Inn looks more suitable for a family and has B&B rooms and family suites or cabins.Walking around Randsburg is like being in your own Western movie. I think kids would probably really enjoy this (or even just seeing the town if you don't stay over).
I guess we all need to apologize to the OP for making assumptions about your itinerary and your overall plans, because we don't really know if our suggestions work with what you have planned. But we are big Mojave Desert enthusiasts and can't help wanting to share with visitors. If all this doesn't work for you, maybe some of the ideas will be useful to other readers. :)