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Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Hampshire, UK
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Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Hello there, my colleague and my boss have asked for my help, as I love travelling and have visited DV etc before, hence to them I am an expert?!

They have meetings in LA, are staying Friday night in Santa Maria, CA then fly back to the UK from Vegas, on Monday evening, in August. They are keen photographers and I recommended Death Valley as an awesome, intriguing place, so they are going.

Have as always found cracking advice on here already. Cut and pasted loads of it, but just checking in with the experts.

What would you recommend for them - it is difficult as people have different travelling styles I know.

How about -

SATURDAY, leave Santa Maria, drive to and stay Lone Pine. (we work for a movie company, so I think they would like Lone Pine).This should be about 5-6 hours driving? Possibly stop and enjoy Red Rock Canyon State Park.

SUNDAY - Leave Lone Pine, visit Mosaic Canyon, Scotty's Castle, Sand Dunes, Devils Cornfield, Devil’s Golf Course, Natural Bridge, Badwater Basin, Artist’s Drive, and Golden Canyon.

Back to Furnace Creek, stay the night - poss head to Zabriskie Point in the evening for stargazing. No idea on their stamina!

MONDAY - Zabriskie if not seen, Twenty Mule Canyon, Dantes View, then Death Valley Junction, head via Pahrump to Las Vegas.... and home.

Sometimes I am a little ambitious, and me and my husband are quite full on, and see as much as you can. Is this too much, or reasonable? Have I missed anything which they must see in your opinions? Any clangers on the routes?

Any suggestions gratefully received!! Many thanks

Fortaleza, CE
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1. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Weather.com says the average high temps in Lone Pine (I assume you're going to the neighboring Alabama Hills, where many movies have been filmed). in August are high 90s and even over 100 Farenheit. In Death Valley, average highs are closer to 115F. Touring except during the early morning and, to a lesser degree, evening, can be very uncomfortable once you get out of your air conditioned vehicle(s). Don't take the warnings about heat lightly. A well-known actor recently died hiking around Zabriskie Point (sounds like he was in a wash not used by many). You won't be alone in the park, but do be careful. And know that, in case of emergency, cell phone service is nil. If your car breaks down on one of the paved roads, someone will surely come along, but the wait could be uncomfortable. Always have lots of water with you.

Google Maps says as little as 4 1/2 hours, without stops, from Santa Maria to Lone Pine. I'd take the route they say would take about 20 minutes longer, via the Kern River Canyon and Lake Isabella http://goo.gl/maps/tCJiN rather than Tehachapi Pass (Hwy. 58), but if you're in a rush, take 58 and then 14 and 395.

Edited: 21 July 2014, 18:11
Fortaleza, CE
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2. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

p.s. obviously the best photography light is early and late in the day, rather than in the blazing mid-day sun. Good luck. As photographers, you might also consider the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, in the Inyo Natl. Forest north of DV.

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3. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Hi Heqwerty. We're happy that your colleagues will be visiting Death Valley!

Most of your plan looks great, but there are a few things to keep in mind. Trips to Golden Canyon, Mosaic Canyon, and Natural Bridge are not recommended after 10AM due to extreme heat. The reason is that these destinations are canyon hiking routes. Temps in the shade will be 115-120 degrees, and that means the ground temperature will be even hotter. Canyons seem like giant furnaces, and heat exhaustion can come on very quickly. Attempting these hikes should be done before 10AM if at all in this extreme summer heat. Also please note that Mosaic Canyon Road is currently closed due to flash flood damage.

Additionally be prepared for tour times at Scotty's Castle. Times change daily, but are usually somewhere between 11AM and 3PM. I highly recommend checking our Morning Report for tour times and road conditions the day before and the day of arrival. The morning report is found on our website www.nps.gov/deva. Also our Facebook pages https:/…DeathValleyRoadConditions and https://www.facebook.com/DeathValleyNP are updated almost daily.

Grover Beach...
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4. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

"....They have meetings in LA, are staying Friday night in Santa Maria, CA"......

Why Santa Maria?

Not the best place to spend a night. If just to start the drive eastward via Highway 166, then fine, but I would opt for a hotel at the airport. Everything else is too close to gang territory.

Fortaleza, CE
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5. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Kibbles09, good point. I read OP too quickly and thought they had meetings in SM. I have no idea whatsoever why one would go to SM first to get to Lone Pine. Even if SM were a popular destination (not) it would add lots of time and miles. And even more driving over hot roads. Surprised OP didn't give more details.

Grover Beach...
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6. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Sutter.... I wondered if they meant Santa Monica

Hampshire, UK
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7. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Thanks everyone.

I will find out why, possibly a client is there. Definitely not Santa Monica, it was originally Bakersfield, but changed to Santa Maria.

Thanks for all the suggestions, I'll look at them all and reiterate the temperatures etc.

Hampshire, UK
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8. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

hi there - actually their last 'work' stop is San Luis Obispo, not Santa Maria. They fancy staying in Morro Bay for the night, then head to DV.

Is this all gang territory?

Fortaleza, CE
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9. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

Gang territory?? As in the Jesse James gang in the wilds of the Old West? Here's the route I'd probably take from SLO to Lone Pine: http://goo.gl/maps/RYZ4l (Google Maps says just 10 minutes longer than hwy. 58). At least you'd be in the mountains while on Hwy. 178. Most of the drive will be hot. Not as hot as DV, but hot.

There are some good wineries around Paso Robles and, before that, in the Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez Valley areas on their way from L.A. to SLO.

Edited: 22 July 2014, 18:34
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10. Re: Santa Maria - Las Vegas - 2 nights via Death Valley

My understanding is that Santa Maria is experiencing some challenges with gang activity. I hope Kibbles09 sees your question and can give you details as she lives in that area.