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Need some assistance with Death Valley

Orange County, CA
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336 posts
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Need some assistance with Death Valley

We are going to drive from Orange County, California to Death Valley.

Since the drive will be tiring for us we wanted to stop at the most convenient spot in the Park for that first night.

Then the next day we would visit the park for the entire day.

The next day we would spend a half a day in the park and then drive to Las Vegas.

So where should we stay in the park?

First night at Stove Pipe and second at Furnace Creek Ranch or

First night at Furnace Creek Ranch and second night at Stove Pipe? Or two nights at Furnace.

thanks for your assistance,

R.

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Orange County
Orange County
California
Salt Lake City, Utah
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640 posts
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1. Re: Need some assistance with Death Valley

I'll leave it to Frisco Roadrunner to give detail, but my suggestion would be for Stovepipe Wells then Furnace Creek. Both are wonderful, but FC has more services.

You don't say which route you are taking or why you feel you'll be tired.

Edited: 19 December 2009, 04:39
San Francisco
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for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
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2. Re: Need some assistance with Death Valley

I'm also not sure why this trip would be especially tiring, unless perhaps you're prone to fatigue while driving. I figured the mileage from San Clemente, the most distant point I could think of in Orange County, and it's under 300 miles to Stove Pipe Wells. If you're coming from Anaheim, it's about 35 miles shorter.

I used the route along the eastern edge of the OC metro area to Corona, up I-15, and then 395 to Ridgecrest and 178 through Trona to Wildrose. It's another 25 miles to Furnace Creek. Much of this is not freeway and there is lots to see along the way. So don't count on doing it in 5 hours. OTOH, the more leisurely pace and sightseeing stops might also keep you from getting so tired.

I never suggest I-15 via Barstow and Baker for folks coming from the LA-OC area, especially if they plan to go on to Las Vegas, because it bypasses the entire west side of the park and some of the most beautiful scenery.

Ordinarily, I would suggest people stay in the same place for both nights just because that's more relaxing. But since you want an early stop the first night, I agree with Xochi: stay at SPW and focus for the first day on sights in that area. Enjoy the green, mountain scenery along Wildrose Road on the way in. Near SPW are Mosaic Canyon, the Sand Dunes, and Devil's Cornfield. Also, the mini-visitor center at SPW is where you can pay your park entrance fee.

The restaurant at SPW is rustic Old West decor with timbers from an old mine, mining artifacts, wagon parts, and Navajo craft items for decoration. The food is good too. Not foo-foo gourmet items, but simple satisfying things like spaghetti, steaks, fish, and a nice salad bar.

You don't mention the time of year, but try to do your activities and dining so you can be at the Sand Dunes for sunset. It's a magical place to be out there and watch the sun drop behind the Cottonwood range.

You can also enjoy sunrise at the Dunes the next day, unless you want to get up really early and go somewhere else. If you go to the Dunes early in the morning before lots of people have walked all over, you can look tracks made by wildlife that was out roaming around while you slept. Many people are surprised by the variety of creatures that live in the dunes (and plants, which support the creatures).

With a full day, you might be interested in Scotty's Castle, in the far north end. See Ubehebe Crater while you're up there. The ghost town of Rhyolite is outside the park on the NV side, about 35 miles from SPW.

The visitor center is next to the Furnace Creek Ranch and you should check out the exhibits and see the DV movie. (TBH, it's not that great and has errors, but you can see pictures of various places that you may not have time to visit). The southeast part of the park has many of the natural wonders that make DV famous. Devil's Golf Course, Badwater, Artist's Drive, and Golden Canyon are all on Badwater Road, in the first 15 miles. See them in that order, going south and back north. Don't use this route to leave the park, because you'll miss Zabriskie Point and Dante's View.

The Furnace Creek Inn is at the junction of Hwy 190 and Badwater Road, and visitors are welcome to look around and enjoy the beautiful gardens. This is a historic inn, built in the 1920s by the Pacific Coast Borax Co. to attract tourists. Death Valley was not a national park or monument yet, but the borax people recognized the potential for people wanting to see this unique area and so they capitalized on it with the Inn. (The Ranch was also part of borax properties, originally a company town for borax processing within the boundaries of what is now the national park).

After you've seen the Badwater area sights and everything around FC, head east on 190. Zabriskie Point and Dante's View are the big attractions and are must-sees. 20 Mule Team Canyon is also along here, where you can drive through golden clay hills where, also, there was borax prospecting in the late 1800s. You can still see some of the holes.

Hwy 190 ends at Death Valley Junction, another former borax company town, and now home to the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House. From there, take Stateline Road east toward Pahrump and Las Vegas (if the sign is gone again, it's a T-intersection across Hwy 127 from the hotel.)

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Orange County
Orange County
California
Anaheim
Anaheim
Orange County, CA
Ridgecrest
Ridgecrest
California Desert, CA
Trona
Trona
California Desert, CA
Barstow
Barstow
California Desert, CA
Orange County, CA
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336 posts
34 reviews
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3. Re: Need some assistance with Death Valley

Xochipilli and Frisco Roadrunner:

Thanks so much, expecially Frisco on the itinerary order.

We live in Irvine. I was going to leave Friday, January 9th in the morning around 9:00am. That would only leave a few hours of sightseeing the first day. Perhaps we need to leave an hour earlier.

Should we stay both nights at Stove Pipe? Or first night at Stove Pipe and second night at Furnace Creek?

I am not sure what the sun does to pictures in the morning. On Sunday morning we have 3-4 hours of sightseeing before heading for Vegas, should the sun location effect how we do the last sightseeing before leaving the park and heading for Vegas?

thanks so much,

R.

Mentioned in this post
Orange County, CA
Level Contributor
336 posts
34 reviews
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4. Re: Need some assistance with Death Valley

Xochipilli and Frisco Roadrunner:

Thanks so much, expecially Frisco on the itinerary order.

We live in Irvine. I was going to leave Friday, January 9th in the morning around 9:00am. That would only leave a few hours of sightseeing the first day. Perhaps we need to leave an hour earlier.

Should we stay both nights at Stove Pipe? Or first night at Stove Pipe and second night at Furnace Creek?

I am not sure what the sun does to pictures in the morning. On Sunday morning we have 3-4 hours of sightseeing before heading for Vegas, should the sun location effect how we do the last sightseeing before leaving the park and heading for Vegas?

thanks so much,

R.

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Salt Lake City, Utah
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640 posts
9 reviews
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5. Re: Need some assistance with Death Valley

It's an easy drive ... so I'd start a early as 7 and have breakfast out. Furnace Creek has more dining options, but splitting nights at SPW and FC would still be your best bet to maximize sightseeing. Sunset at the sand dunes is incredible. Sunrise at Zabriske Point is equally as gorgeous. There might not be much time for a ranger program, but there are some good ones. If you like photography, Bob Greenburg does a few programs a week. If you are going soon, days are short, so that would be another reason to start early. Remeber, all you have to do is get to I15 and go north on US395.

6. Re: Need some assistance with Death Valley

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