Bad idea. There's so much to see in Death Valley NP but if you insist, the drive alone without stops already can take some 8+ hours and if you stick to the main road (190)you can see Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek visitor center, Mustard Canyon, Devils Cornfield and Mesquite Sanddunes very close to that road. Visiting highlights like Devils Golfcourse, Badwater, Artist drive will mean a detour.
Hello Stuart P, and welcome to TripAdvisor and the Death Valley National Park forum.
I agree with Tet. We here at TripAdvisor (TA) don't encourage a "side trip" to Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas to Los Angeles (or vice versa) because to see the park properly takes more time than you might realize. Do the main road (California State Route 190) if you absolutely have this as a nonnegotiable, and take CA Route 190 west out to US Route 395 south, then CA Route 14 to Mojave and Los Angeles. The other used route to the west through Panamint Valley and Trona is out of commission due to Summer flash flood road damage.
I wonder if you could arrange your itinerary so that you could make a day trip from Las Vegas through Death Valley NP. That is recommended here on TA all the time, and you can make it a circular route through Scotty's Castle to the northeast of the park, and out towards Beatty, NV. Leave Las Vegas from Interstate 15 south of Downtown Las Vegas to NV State Route 160 west to Pahrump, NV. Take Bell Vista Road -- > State Line Road to Death Valley Junction and CA Route 127 -- > CA Route 190 to the Death Valley Visitor's Center to get oriented. This is the southern and east area of the park, and a place to get food (I'd get my car fuel and grocery items in Pahrump. . . much less expensive there) and use restrooms, etc. Then see the park as desired, and exit via Scotty's Castle.
Or. . . See Death Valley NP from Las Vegas, and spend the night in Lone Pine, CA. Lone Pine is a great place for tourists, where much western movie filmmaking has taken (and take) place. Film Museum in the middle of town, and tours of the Alabama Hills are available on your own or in a group with a tour guide. Talk to the friendly docents at the museum for details. The Dow Villa Hotel is both an historic hotel you can sleep in just like the old western film stars did, and a modern up to date hotel (it offers both). Recommended. Then travel south to Los Angeles.
If you'd like more information on the Mojave Desert area you will be traversing, I'd be happy to help. I'm a native here, and can show you some not as well known sites that depending on your interests could well prove to be enjoyable and very satisfying.
As my Mother would say: "see America at 65 miles per hour!"
Sounds like it is asking a bit much to drive through Death Valley in one day and really appreciate all there is to see. Unfortunately our schedule is pretty tight and won't allow us to stay longer and the agent we booked through told me it would have been easy nevermind I should have researched a little more before confirmation. I wonder what would be a nice scenic drive to take from Vegas to LA in one day? Google maps tells me it's just over 5 hours so I am keen to know what slight detours would be worth seeing ?
How about dropping a day from LV or LA?
You can drive via Mojave National Preserve. Take I15 south of Las Vegas and take Cima exit 272 to Cima (semi ghosttown). You'll see the largest concentration of Joshua Trees in the world on this drive. Then drive along the tracks of Union Pacific on a "dips" road to Kelso. Stop at Kelso depot and museum and have a drink at The Beanery (when open). See the huge trains pass. see Kelso Dunes from a distance. Then drive Kelbaker rd to Baker and back on I15. This all is doable on a daytrip.South of Baker you'll see the curious xxyzx sign along the interstate. Baker has the tallest thermometer in the world but it's out of order right now.
Unfortunately The Beanery is now closed.
That's very sad Dez....
That really is too bad.
I wouldn't go to Baker or Primm and pass up the opportunity to have lunch in a unique, historic site like the Kelso Depot. It's about the experience, and sometimes maximizing the experience means compromising a bit on parts of it that are less essential, like more limited food selections.
It's a challenge to run any kind of business in a remote place like Mojave NP, but even more so when it involves perishable goods. The park doesn't get the kind of visitation that Death Valley does and doesn't have lodging other than camping, so it doesn't pay an operator to keep lots of inventory, especially food. I hope the NPS can find another concessioner to reopen the lunch room so people who do relish this kind of experience WON'T be stuck with going to Baker.
Before opening The Beanery again we went to Kelso Depot in 2007 and had such a great time there and the Beanery already was restored but no staff. They even offered DW a job there -lol- I was so glad it was opened after that and we have been back there several times and had something to eat. I also hope they can find staff on short notice but as we all know it's so remote.