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San Francisco to Death Valley and back - how many days?

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posts: 54
San Francisco to Death Valley and back - how many days?

In mid January I'll be in San Francisco and have 4 days to kill. I want to visit Death Valley. One of the things I want to do is drive through Titus Canyon - I'm thinking it would be good to stay in Beatty the first night. Looking at Google Maps its about a 10.5 hour drive. Is the drive Is this doable in one day? Which way is more scenic - INTERSTATE 5 through California or taking US 95 through Nevada?

I know 4 days isn't a lot of time and it will take a day to get there and back leaving me only two days in Death Valley - is this enough time?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions

Los Angeles
Destination Expert
for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
posts: 10,260
reviews: 87
11. Re: San Francisco to Death Valley and back - how many days?

Thanks for reporting back, Nine_Lives - sorry you didn't get to go, but it would have been impossible, so good decision-making on your part! The thread is still a great one - all the winter highway information is much appreciated.

We live within striking distance of Death Valley (5-6 hours) so we can return home if conditions are bad, and it's almost always do-able through to Lone Pine - it's all points further north that require close watching. We didn't know any of this, years ago, when we made our first winter trip up 395 (and missed a day of work due to our lack of planning - but hey, it was an adventure). If you're on a tight schedule, winter driving in the Eastern Sierra can be tricky.

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,866
reviews: 42
12. Re: San Francisco to Death Valley and back - how many days?

Cookie's last sentence pretty much says it all. For those of us who live fairly close and/or go to the Eastern Sierra often, a quick winter trip may be fine. If you are coming to California for the purpose of seeing these places (Death Valley, Yosemite, Sequoia, Tahoe, etc.) in winter, you must factor in weather and travel delays or be prepared to miss out on some things, or both.

If you read the TRs from Jim of Atlanta, you can see what happened with his trip. Luckily he and his wife were prepared to be flexible (and I think we TAs did a pretty decent job of preparing them), to omit or change some activities and think ahead to the next trip for those places they missed. Atlanta is a pretty long haul. But for folks coming from Germany or Malaysia in winter, giving yourself only 4 days for this (or even 5 or 6, depending on conditions) might be a guarantee for disappointment.

These places are gorgeous in winter. Every season has its own special appeal in every national park. But when, how, and even if we get to go there is up to Mother Nature.

13. Re: San Francisco to Death Valley and back - how many days?

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