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.

Not just a drive through hu?

Southampton...
Level Contributor
28 posts
20 reviews
Save Topic
Not just a drive through hu?

So I am planning a trip to the west coast in may, flying to LAX and also going up to Las Vagas, and want to go through Death Valley. I have not booked anything yet so am currently flexible in how long exc I spend each place.

Here in England we are always told the tale of death valley and that there is no gas stations in Death Valley. as know-one has said anything about this in any other post on here I'm assuming its not true? do I need to plan gas stops into our drive?

from looking at other posts I get that one night would mean I would have to miss out on some of the sites, so I was thinking of staying 2 nights in Death Valley, one on the way to Las Vagas to see the north side of the park, then one night on the way back to see the south. is this a good idea?

Uden, The...
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
1. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

Hi and welcome to the forum.

If I read correctly you want to drive from LA to Las Vegas via Death Valley and also on the way back. I would not do that. Spend the 2 nights in Death Valley and drive back to LA via places like Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree NP. (or in reverse). Don't split your stays.

There are 3 pumps in Death Valley NP at Panamint Springs, Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. Fuel is expensive in DVNP (Stovepipe wells least expensive) but you can fill up before or after. Anyway don't fret about the lack of fuel.

Already can be pretty hot in may. We once had 115F so keep an eye on that but Death Valley NP is a magnificent National Park, the biggest one in the 48 states. Suggest to stay Stovepipe Wells or Furnace Creek Ranch being most centrally located. Roads are paved and in good condition and only short gravelroads to many attractions in DVNP but without a proper car stay away from the long dirtroads like Titus Canyon. Go for it!

Tet

Houston, TX
Level Contributor
4,691 posts
23 reviews
Save Reply
2. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

You don't really need to "plan" gas stops--just use ordinary common sense when driving through that part of the country. Don't let the tank get too low and when you need gas, know you will have to get it and pay the price--not a good idea to try to use a device to find lower prices. In the areas you will be driving through, some of the places that are marked on the maps as towns are really small places with no services. So get gas in a timely fashion and don't worry if another station shows up with a lower price. You are paying for peace of mind on your holiday.

Re maps--make sure you bring (or get upon arrival) a good map/s of the areas of your travel, even if you plan to use SatNav or GPS. In the remote areas, they can lead you into trouble; you may experience service or battery issues with handheld devices. Always a good idea to have a map on hand out there.

Death Valley is a very interesting place. Furnace Creek Ranch is a nice place to stay. Have a nice trip.

Southampton...
Level Contributor
28 posts
20 reviews
Save Reply
3. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

thanks for your replies :-)

I will note down the places to get fuel thanks! as for price- fuel here in England is double what you pay there so I think I will upset to be paying a few cents more.

Is there any map you would recommend?

I will looking into the places you suggested to stay thanks.

115f! woohhhoo why is so much hotter there compared to Las Vagas and LA?

Uden, The...
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
4. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

In may we also had 104F in Las Vegas..... You'll get a map where you'll pay the NP fee at Stovepipe Wells at the ranger station. A good map for DV is by AAA called Death Valley National Park Map (what else ;-)

Tucson, Arizona
Destination Expert
for Dusseldorf
Level Contributor
3,264 posts
652 reviews
Save Reply
5. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

While a map is certainly important, you will be on asphalt most of the time and these roads are on the NP map you get when you pay. More important, fill your car with at least 5 gallons of water per person.

ZB

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
15,528 posts
50 reviews
Save Reply
6. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

** "Is there any map you would recommend?" **

For almost all visitors, the American Automobile Assn. "Death Valley National Park Map Guide" is more than adequate. It has more detail than the official National Park Service map you will receive at the visitor center, including some secondary and backcountry roads that are not on the NPS map. If you belong to a motorists' organization that has reciprocity with AAA, see if they can get one for you. In fact, your auto club might have some US park maps; AAA has many maps of places outside North America. If you arrive without it, the park visitor center may sell it; it has in the past.

For 99.99% of hikers, the National Geographic Trails Illustrated series of park maps is far more than they will need. It's a topographical map and also has info on visitor attractions and services. It will be good for dozens of trips to DV because it is printed on waterproof, durable plasticized sheets. I think these can be ordered on line; they are also sold at the park visitor center and the Furnace Creek Ranch store. There is another plastic map by Tom Harrison that is a couple of dollars cheaper, which is less complete and does not have all the extra visitor info.

** "115f! woohhhoo why is so much hotter there compared to Las Vagas and LA?" **

Several reasons. Death Valley is in several successive "rain shadows," meaing the leeward side of a mountain range. Mountains deplete a lot of storms, cool air and moisture coming from the ocean before they can reach the other side. As storms move inland, they have to go over the California Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi, Inyo, and Panamint ranges before reaching Death Valley, so only the wettest, most powerful storms arrive with much moisture left. Warm air ordinarily rises, but Death Valley has the lowest point in North America, 282 feet below sea level, and its western wall, the Panamint range, is over 11,000 feet in elevation. The eastern mountains are lower, but everything on the other side is arid desert country. Warm air tends to be trapped & continue circulating within the Valley; as it circulates it continues heating up and transferring heat by convection to surrounding air..

Death Valley is officially the world’s hottest place, with 134ºF recorded in 1913. For years, a place in Libya claimed a record of 136º. But two years ago the World Meteorological Org. decided to settle it, and assembled a research team from around the world, including both claim holders, the US and Libya. Other scientists were from Morocco, France, Argentina, and other "neutral" countries. They studied the records themselves, climate observation and recording methods, and overall climate patterns in both areas. They determined that an error had been made in the Libya record, and Death Valley's 134º was upheld as the highest temperature ever on Earth. For this year's July 13 centennial of the record, the park held a celebration and a special program about climate. This summer we had an unusually hot weather pattern in the Western US and there was a "watch" to see if we might set a new record, but all we could manage was a world second-best, 129º. I work as a volunteer with the NPS in Death Valley and was there right after all of this hoopla, and most of the public that I met in the visitor center and around the park knew all about the record and couldn't stop talking about it.

The park website has a lot of weather info and historical climate data. You can find highs, lows, precipitation, etc. for any day of the year, monthly averages, and more. You'll learn that in 8 of the 12 months of the year, the mercury has reached at least 100ºF; and that the park's record rainfall (4.54 inches) and low temperature (15ºF) were set the same year as the high temperature. The "Death Valley Climate Book" is totally fascinating. I downloaded it so I can browse through it any time I wish. :)

nps.gov/deva/…weather-and-climate.htm

Los Angeles is a coastal city, so it isn't going to reach 129º. Because much of the city sits in a basin, it can get air quality problems that make hot weather more uncomfortable. This is true of other cities that are in a depression or valley, like Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and Denver. On a bad day, dropping down into one of them from a higher elevation (e.g. entering Las Vegas from the north) can look like sliding into a bowl of mud.

Death Valley, even with its extremes, is far more comfortable than Las Vegas. Las Vegas is also part of the Mojave Desert, but it has drastically altered its environment. It is not natural, but a landscape of asphalt, concrete, steel, glass, decorative synthetic materials, and other manmade stuff. It's congested with vehicles that emit hydrocarbon pollutants and people who exhale vast amounts of carbon dioxide. Its ornamental fountains, golf courses, lawns, and swimming pools require huge amounts of water (much of which is imported from the Colorado River and aquifers in distant parts of the state of Nevada) . All that water evaporates rapidly in the dry air, but the law of conservation of matter dictates that it doesn't "go away"; it simply hangs around in the form of drastically elevated humidity. Ironically, all those manmade changes have been made in the name of making the desert "habitable" for people—and they change the desert so much that people can't stay outside in it and have to retreat to air conditioned interiors.

You can make a comparison. Stand outside at high noon on an asphalt street along the Las Vegas Strip, and stand outside at high noon at the Badwater salt flats, and see which one feels better and cleaner for longer. Death Valley is largely undeveloped natural land, with a sparse population and not much human impact. The permanent population is a couple hundred. No building in DV exceeds two stories. Traffic congestion is almost non-existent and there is not one single electric traffic signal. You may find it incredible, but NO water is imported for human use in Death Valley; all water for the resorts, their hotels and restaurants, golf courses and landscaping, the NPS administrative and residential areas, and all other domestic water, originates IN the park boundaries! For example, the Furnace Creek area is supplied by springs in the Funeral Range to the east that produce a couple million gallons per day. Swimming pool water is changed often enough that no chemical biocides are usually needed, and the drained water goes for irrigation. Septic ponds on the golf course have been turned into marshes that attract a wonderful variety of water fowl that are fun to watch.

Now you know not only that you will enjoy Death Valley, but some of the reasons why! Have a great trip. :)

Brisbane, Australia
Level Contributor
62 posts
51 reviews
Save Reply
7. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

Wow! What great information.

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
Level Contributor
63,571 posts
114 reviews
Save Reply
8. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

Here is a good basic map for planning. americansouthwest.net/california/death_valle…

I like the map from the NPS better than the one from AAA.

Santa Cruz...
Destination Expert
for Santa Cruz
Level Contributor
32,586 posts
6 reviews
Save Reply
9. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

Tet,

>>the biggest one in the 48 states.<<

Last time I looked there were 50 of these. <grin>

OP...I am not sure that you can still get a free AAA map if you belong to the UK AA, as before, but do check. They may have removed that reciprocity.

Edited: 13 December 2013, 02:17
Uden, The...
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
Save Reply
10. Re: Not just a drive through hu?

No it's no longer free. Alaska has bigger NPs Puter hence the 48 "contiguous" states.