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LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

Sydney Australia
posts: 87
reviews: 436
LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

Hi Knowledgable Ones ,

Am arriving 28th Dec (Noon) in LAX and will be heading straight out to DV on way to LV (due night of 29th). Would love a heads up of what is recommended as to :

1) Best travel route from LAX.

2) Where to spend the night (thinking Lone Pine ???)

3) Best advice on what to see next day on the way to LV (p.s. don't mind extra miles !)

Have never had a bad idea passed onto me yet , love your work , Cheers , Skeney.

p.s. have over 6 weeks of touring to do , will be asking a few Q's !!!

6 replies to this topic
San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,450
reviews: 41
1. Re: LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

Best route is up I-405 to Hwy 14, then north through Palmdale and Mojave. From LAX to Lone Pine is about 350 km. Ideally, it should take about 3½ hours. Depending on when you finally leave the airport after all the formalities, it may be early afternoon. Local residents can tell you what traffic will be like then. You’re the best judge of how you’ll do on this drive on the “other” side of the road after a long trans-oceanic flight.

Lone Pine is a great little town. Maybe you’ll have some time that evening or the next morning to enjoy some of its offerings, including Mt. Whitney, the popular movie filming area of Alabama Hills, a movie museum, a charming main street full of independent businesses with a local flavor, and a fine visitor center just after you turn from Hwy 395 onto Hwy 136.

Occasionally, Lone Pine and the area around it, including some of the roads into and within Death Valley National Park, will get snow in winter. The town’s elevation is about 1130 metres above sea level. Townes Pass, the high point into the park, is 1500m in elevation. Those are not extremely high, but you should be aware that snow is possible.

On the way in, take a look from Father Crowley Vista Point. It overlooks Rainbow Canyon, part of Panamint Valley, which is the next valley west of DV (the Panamint range is their common wall). As you get into the park, worthwhile sights include Mosaic Canyon, the Sand Dunes, and Devil’s Cornfield. You’ll pass two resorts, Panamint Springs (a little east of Fr. Crowley Point) and Stovepipe Wells Village, about 50 km beyond Panamint Springs. These are rustic places with “Western” ambience.

On the way to the park visitor center, you can take a short detour to Salt Creek (home of the DV pupfish—they are dormant until spring but their habitat is always green with lush halophytic vegetation). At the visitor center, you can see the exhibits and park movie and learn more about what you’ve been seeing and will see. Furnace Creek Ranch resort is just south of the visitor center, and a turnoff just south leads to Badwater Road. Some of Death Valley’s most unique and fascinating natural wonders are along this road: Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater, Natural Bridge, Artist’s Drive, and Golden Canyon. The best use of your time, with so little of it, is to go south and then return north, seeing the sights in the order listed. These major sights are in the 25-km stretch south of Furnace Creek.

At the junction of Badwater Road and Hwy 190 is Furnace Creek Inn, a historic Spanish-style villa that is part of the Furnace Creek resort complex. It’s separate from the Ranch, and more upscale. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the gardens. Take Hwy 190 east and see Zabriskie Point, 20 Mule Team Canyon, and Dante’s View Point on your way east. Dante’s will be your grand finale, a high point overlooking much of the Valley, the salt flats, Badwater, and the surrounding mountains.

It’s too bad you won’t have an overnight stay or even a whole day to devote to Death Valley. You won’t get to see the sunrise or sunset. A drive-through tour will only hint at the colors, shapes, and textures, and you probably won’t see much wildlife from the road. But you’ll get a good overview of what Death Valley is like, a glimpse of some of its unique places, and hopefully some good photo opps.

Sydney Australia
posts: 87
reviews: 436
2. Re: LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

Thanks Very Much Frisco , Just the type of reply/help I needed.Unfortunately we booked Vegas early because of NYE and thought of DV after ! The drive shouldn't be a problem as I've clocked up over 14,000 mls in the last 2 trips. How many hours (with stops/photos etc) do you forsee for the drive from Lone Pine to Dantes View as we don't need to be in LV till late as we have 3 nights booked ? Would you recommend staying the night further on ?? But Lone Pine sounds like a good place for an hour or two in the morning ?To exit after Dante's would I be best to go Hwy373/95 or Hwy 127/160 via Pahrump ? We have a Jeep Cherokee booked so snow won't be a problem , fingers crossed !! We want to see as much as we can fit in to do DV any justice. Thanks again for the perfect hints !!

Washington State
Destination Expert
for Yosemite National Park
posts: 37,410
reviews: 56
3. Re: LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

I'd use the "Shortest Route" from Dante's View to Las Vegas: nps.gov/deva/…20Vegas.pdf Plan to leave DVNP as late as possible.

Hours of daylight, time of sunset, and such: www.SunriseSunset.com

Basic map of DVNP: americansouthwest.net/california/death_valle… (The one on the NPS website is so detailed that it's hard to see an overview of the Park.)

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,450
reviews: 41
4. Re: LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

From Lone Pine to Stovepipe Wells Village is about 130 km. The major sights in that area are Mosaic Canyon, the Sand Dunes, and Devil’s Cornfield. About another 40 km to Furnace Creek. The trip down Badwater Road where the major natural wonders are (Devil’s Cornfield, Badwater, Artist’s Drive, Golden Canyon) is about 25 km one way with a little added distance for the gravel road to Devil’s Golf Course and the side trip to Artist’s Drive and Artist’s Palette.

Dante’s View is on a paved side road off 190, about 40 km from Furnace Creek. From Lone Pine to Dante’s, overall, including the Badwater side trip which is a must-see, is around 250 km (excluding the small detours mentioned above).

Of course, these are not freeways, and you’ll be slowing or pulling over to see things, take pictures, check out the visitor center, eat, etc. So the actual time it takes depends on your travel style.

** “Hwy373/95 or Hwy 127/160 via Pahrump ?” **

NEITHER. That’s one reason why you are consulting us here, and not relying solely on Google, MapQuest, sat-nav, etc. Sometimes they direct you onto state or federal highways that take you out of your way; sometimes they send you onto rural roads that may be dead-ends, unfit for normal vehicles, or even dangerous if you break down, encounter bad weather, etc. The 373/95 route goes far north out of your way and is easy on the eyes but lacking in drama and scenic diversity. The 127/160 route goes far south out of your way to Shoshone and then back north to Pahrump.

The most direct route is 190 east to Death Valley Junction, Stateline Road (turn east across from the Amargosa Hotel) to Pahrump, and Bell Vista Road in Pahrump to 160. This route is 30-45 km shorter than the others, and the stretch from the park boundary to the outskirts of Pahrump is nice (Pahrump is not, but you probably won’t need to spend much time there as it’s only a little over 100 km farther to LV). If you had extra time, you could even make a short detour on the way, west of Pahrump, to Ash Meadows Wildlife Refuge. It is an amazing green oasis in the desert with ponds, lush vegetation, birds, reptiles, and the habitat of the Devil’s Hole pupfish, one of the world’s most rare and endangered fish. If you don’t do a lot of hiking, you could get a decent look at it in an hour.

Sydney Australia
posts: 87
reviews: 436
5. Re: LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

I blame a bad free map in a 2011 Californian Vacation Guide for my choices !! I'll stick to my AA or Rand-McNally next time ! 190 East it is but you are so right and that's why you guys are destination experts , Thanks ! I've copied down all the info and will definetly try to fit in Ash Meadows and not worry about getting into LV in the dark. You have laid out a pretty good route for time poor travellers and again we say Many Thanks for your help & great advice, Cheers , Skeney.

Sydney Australia
posts: 87
reviews: 436
6. Re: LAX to Vegas via Death Valley

Thanks for the info Family , absolutely brilliant ! The driving maps give me a better heads up of what's in store and the DVNP map is a lot better then what we have been able to look at so far, Thanks ! Also I've worked out we will have around 9 hours of daylight and might catch either the sunrise or sunset depending on where we are at those times. I see your a Yosemite expert so I'll be asking some questions a bit later as we plan to touch the area on our way from Vancouver down the Pacific NW thru Lake Tahoe on the way back to LA. I see a lot of miles on the horizon , Thanks Again , Skeney.

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