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Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

Los Angeles
posts: 15
reviews: 36
Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

I thought it would be a good idea to tent camp and Dutch-oven cook at Mesquite Spring, but then I read that the wind is pretty strong most of the time.

Anyone have a favorite campground and specific campsite in either the Stovepipe Wells area or the Furnace Creek area?

Access to the pool and showers sounds enticing. Do both areas have pools and showers, or only Stovepipe Wells?

Thanks

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,342
reviews: 42
1. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

Mesquite Springs is a long way from most of the major visitor sites in the park. It's close to Scotty's Castle, but an hour away from either Furnace Creek or Stove Pipe Wells, the two main centers of visitor activity.

Mesquite Springs is very pretty, but it's close to 2000' in elevation so it will not be very warm. Stove Pipe Wells is at sea level, Furnace Creek 190' below.

No NPS campgrounds have showers. Mesquite Springs, Furnace Creek, Stove Pipe Wells, Emigrant, and Sunset (which is really just a parking lot for RVs) have flush toilets and running water. The ones in the Panamint range have outhouses. Stove Pipe Wells has access to pool and shower for people using their private campground, which is adjacent to the NPS campground; or with a small fee to those in the NPS campground. The SPW campgrounds are convenient because they are near the resort, but it's a flat area near the sand dunes, so it can be nasty if it gets windy. The pool and shower at Furnace Creek have some special arrangement and you'll need to contact the front desk at the Ranch to ask about it

furnacecreekresort.com/what-to-know-1225.html

I like Texas Springs campground. I just suggested it to someone else here. It is on a hillside between Furnace Creek Ranch and Inn. It is not just a flat piece of land. There are separate tent areas so you're not mixed in with RVs, and most individual sites feel private. There are lots of trees and the whole place is very restful. You can walk to the Inn or Ranch for meals if you need a change from your own cooking. Furnace Creek campground is also a good choice, but it is not the place to be at Thanksgiving if you want solitude and quiet. It is very popular, and it's right next to the airport.

Los Angeles
posts: 15
reviews: 36
2. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

Runner,

I have the Foghorn Outdoors California Camping book and the Mesquite Springs campground is the highest rated campground in Death Valley with a score of 7. However, it doesn't mention the wind that would make it difficult to cook outdoors.

The Texas Spring campground is rated a 2 and the book says it's "another enormous section of asphalt where the campsites consist of white lines as borders. There's no shade and no shelter." Interesting.

Furnace Creek is the only place that takes online/phone reservations, so this explains why it's booked on Thanksgiving Thursday and Friday. Open on Saturday and Sunday.

This Thanksgiving weekend is a very convenient time for us to travel with our school-aged kids.

My only concern is not getting a campsite where I can cook breakfast and dinner for 2 families on my Dutch ovens on both Friday and Saturday nights. We'll probably be exploring the Racetrack and off-roading Titus Canyon during the day.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,342
reviews: 42
3. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

* "The Texas Spring campground is rated a 2 and the book says it's "another enormous section of asphalt where the campsites consist of white lines as borders. There's no shade and no shelter." Interesting." *

Downey, I'm sorry to say your book is mistaken. The description applies to Sunset, the one I told you was a trailer parking lot. It is indeed a giant piece of asphalt without a green growing things on it, and 250 spaces painted on it. Texas Springs is up the hill from it.

These are the only pictures I could find to link to. You're looking at the RV or mixed RV/tent areas. Most of it, especially the tent areas which are at the outer edges of the campground, actually has more greenery than these photos show. Also, generators are not allowed at Texas Springs.

members.aol.com/Waucoba5/dv/texasspring.html

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,342
reviews: 42
4. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

For exploring Titus Canyon and the Racetrack, Mesquite Springs is indeed more convenient.

From the Furnace Creek and Texas Springs area, it's about 50 additional miles, then you have the 27 or so miles of unpaved road (part of it 4WD only) to the Racetrack. For Titus Canyon, you're looking at a little over 40 miles to Beatty/Rhyolite--it will be nice for you to see the ghost town. Then the 25-mile one-way road through Titus Canyon. From where Titus Canyon comes out on the paved highway, it's a little over 35 miles back to Texas Springs.

If you're more flexible, another alternative is backcountry camping. You'll have a wide choice of places to go, but the NPS does have some conditions. Check here for more info.

www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/backcamp.htm

Los Angeles
posts: 15
reviews: 36
5. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanks again. Earlier this evening, I found the same photos that you linked, so I saw that it wasn't a flat parking lot and you were right.

Los Angeles
posts: 15
reviews: 36
6. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

On arrival at Texas Spring in the early afternoon and setting up camp, we can go explore the area to Badwater, Devils Golf Course, Natural Bridge, Artist Drive, and Zabriskie's Point. Then back to the campsite for dinner.

I was thinking of starting early in the morning around 8 am and going to Rhyolite and then going to Leadfield via Titus Canyon. After this, we would go to Scotty's Castle for a tour and to eat our own lunch food.

After lunch and Scotty's Castle, we would go to Ubehebe Crater and check out Mesquite Springs campground for future reference. If it's not too late and we are not too tired, we would go to the Racetrack to check out the racing rocks. Then back to the campsite to cook dinner.

The next morning we would explore the nearby area again like Stove Pipe Wells, Sand Dunes, Mosiac Canyon, and go home.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 11,342
reviews: 42
7. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

On your first day, be sure to go to the visitor center to ask about road and weather conditions. If there's been rain or snow that affects the back roads, you'll want to know.

Your second day will be a long one, if you take time to really explore and enjoy the sights along the back roads.

It has been a couple of years since I was on the Titus Canyon or Racetrack roads, but they both will take some time. Conditions change with weather events, so what was true last year might not be today.

Thanksgiving is typically busy, so the Castle tours may fill up. If you arrive and they are sold out, you can buy tickets for following tours, and while you wait, self-tour the grounds, Scotty's grave, or Tie Canyon, where building materials from the 1930s are still stored. (A big item was old railroad ties). There is also a separate Underground Mysteries tour, which is not a Halloween special but a look at the technology that ran the castle in the 1930s. Much of it is in the basements and tunnels connecting the buildings. People into engineering, architecture, or environmental issues would enjoy it. A lot of solar power was used. If you need to supplement your picnic lunch, there is a snack bar at the Castle.

I hope I don't seem to be discouraging you from seeing everything, but I feel you'd have as good a time if you did a bit less. If you were from Israel or Tasmania and might never return to California, you could justify rushing around to see it all, but you live near enough that you could plan another trip soon.

My two cents worth is to do Titus Canyon OR the Racetrack, and save the other one for a future trip. Ubehebe Crater is near the Castle and it's an easy ride; if everyone is interested, you could hike down into the crater and then back, but be aware it's loose volcanic ash soil--the kind where you climb up two steps and slip back one! On a recent visit, friends of mine had a 9-year-old that did it.

Your third day plan is good. It has enough to occupy you for a few hours before heading home, without exhausting everyone. Many people enjoy the dunes in the early morning when they can see tracks of nocturnal creatures. Mosaic Canyon is a nice hike where you might see polished white marble-like canyon walls and stones cemented into the canyon floor, mosaic-fashion. What actually is on the ground may vary depending on recent weather. You can drive to the canyon mouth, and kids can do most of the walk easily.

For variety, I suggest taking one route into the park and another leaving. You don't need to go to Lone Pine. On the way in, take SR 14 past Mojave, then follow signs to Ridgecrest and Trona. * North of Trona, you'll come to a junction where you choose either Panamint Valley Road to SR 190, or Trona-Wildrose Road to Emigrant Canyon. PV Road is more classic Mojave desert scenery, sandy-looking with less vegetation, sweeping vistas of the mountains. The other route is mountainous, partly graded gravel, with elevations up to 5,000'. You may see snow, and there is a lot more vegetation ("real" trees) than many people expect in Death Valley.

* For a variation on this, do not to go Ridgecrest, but turn off on a marked road for Randsburg. This is one of the coolest ghost towns in the Mojave desert, but it isn't totally deserted. People live there, and it has basic hotels, restaurants, antique and crafts shops, many preserved old buildings, and mining structures in the hills. From Randsburg, you can go direct to Trona and then resume the rest of the itinerary I described.

8. Re: Camping Death Valley Thanksgiving Weekend

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