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October visit-general advice please

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Cumbria, UK
posts: 1,207
reviews: 58
October visit-general advice please

Currently planning a trip to CA at the end of September this year. I’ve booked our flights and we’ll be doing a 19 day tour of CA. First stop is SF then into the Sonoma/Napa area, South Lake Tahoe, across to Yosemite National Park , then onto DV by car.

I’m looking for a hotel/B&B with parking. As this is part of a much bigger trip we need to balance the budget so I was thinking $100-$150 as a budget-is this adequate? Looked at the Furnace lodge which seems nice. Apart from the Spectacular views I’m admittedly totally ignorant of what there is to see and do! What would be the recommended amount of time to spend here? We’ll be heading to Santa Monica after DV and will probably break up that journey with an on the road stop over.

Thanks in advance.

San Diego...
posts: 2,227
reviews: 40
1. Re: October visit-general advice please

Assuming you want to visit Death Valley National Park, a great attraction, then stay at the Furnace Creek Inn/ranch ,i.e. this place: tripadvisor.in/Hotel_Review-g143021-d142159-… Reservations and info: www.furnacecreekresort.com

While I haven't been there is a number of years, I don't think there is another reasonable alternative.

Edited: 4:31 pm, July 05, 2010
San Diego...
posts: 2,227
reviews: 40
2. Re: October visit-general advice please

I guess it's now called the Furnace Creek Resort.

Here's the National Park website www.nps.gov/deva

And here's the TA page: tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g143021-Death_Valley…

Edited: 4:36 pm, July 05, 2010
Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Dusseldorf
posts: 2,659
reviews: 265
3. Re: October visit-general advice please

Benji, it might be good to take a look at the Death Valley National Park website and decide if this is for you. DVNP is a desert park, and September is a great time to visit, if still a bit on the HOT side. Take a look at Frisco's numerous great posts on what to do.

Where to stay in the park in your price range comes down to the Furnace Creek Ranch or Stovepipe Wells or Panamint Springs Resort. Opinions differ wildly, but PSR is the cheapest and easily the most basic, too basic for some, true desert "feeling" for others. You can check them all out on the web. Parking is not a problem and is free in all locations. This is big sky country with few folks and very different from the UK.


Western PA
posts: 551
reviews: 13
4. Re: October visit-general advice please

For learning about what there is do do and see at Death Valley National Park:

- check the National Park official website at www.nps.gov/deva - be sure to check the map and the park newspaper ("Death Valley Visitors Guide", among other things on the website.

- Check the forum for past posts to get an idea of what others have done and suggested. Note that you have posted this in the Death Valley Junction forum, which is a subset of the more active Death Valley National Park forum. DVJ is actually a small almost-ghost-town located east of DVNP. If you click on the "Death Valley National Park Forums" link just above on this forum you'll get to that forum. Be sure to read some of the recent trip reports that have been posted.

As for the amount of time to spend, that will depend on what you like to do. Share a bit of information about your interests and how you like to spend your time and it will be easier to make suggestions. (Do you like to hike a bit? a lot? not at all?) The DV enthusiasts on this forum have spent countless days there and still haven't seen / done everything! But in general you can see some of the highlights in a rushed one day, more of the top picks in 2 days (or highlights with some short hikes), and even more with more time.

Your options for lodging in October are Furnace Creek Ranch and Stovepipe Wells. Each has their advantages / disadvantages. FCR is busier and has more activities - but it is not a resort with the amenities that you would find at a destination resort. SPW Wells is more rustic and quieter. SPW is less expensive and FCR is closer to the Visitor's Center. You can learn more about each at xanterra.com (Xanterra are the operators for both sites.) One note, the more ritzy Furnace Creek Inn is not yet open in early October, but the gardens are still there and you can visit them.

Enjoy your trip - 3 weeks, sounds like fun!

T2E :-)

(Edited to add - oops some of this is a duplicate of other posts - I was interrupted while composing.)

Edited: 5:39 pm, July 05, 2010
posts: 875
reviews: 11
5. Re: October visit-general advice please

Hi, did this route from SF to LV a few years ago at about the same time of year and your in for a treat .

after leaving yosemite take the 395 south to lone pine

We stayed at Stovepipe wells - which is a basic single story motel affair but within your budget - furnace creek maybe a little expensive

If you just want somewhere to lay your head its fine but we found out only after we had arrived the restaurent is closed on sundays but there is a garage over the road that sells food and drink

San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
posts: 10,408
reviews: 41
6. Re: October visit-general advice please

The replies pretty much cover the basics. The Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch Resort has two places. The Inn is the upscale, historic Spanish-style villa with the lush gardens. It has the spectacular views of the salt flats and the Panamint range. It closes in May and reopens in mid-October.

Furnace Creek Ranch is the one T2E goes into more detail about. I personally don't think the ambience is that great. It has more services and amenities than Stovepipe Wells or Panamint Springs, but it feels like a generic outdoors resort. You might get a great view (esp. if you get one of the cottage rooms on the golf course that also look out to the mountains). Or you might get a room in the "highrise" (3-story) hotel buildings looking out over the General Store.

Stovepipe Wells is my favorite because of the smaller, quieter, more rustic feeling. Every room has a view from the doors or windows, of the Sand Dunes or the mountains (Panamint or Cottonwood, depending on location). At Stovepipe Wells, you KNOW you are in Death Valley. The restaurant and saloon have an Old West motif with mining artifacts, wagon wheels, and Navajo crafts.

As the others suggested, read some of the threads to get an idea of what to see and do. Coming from Yosemite, you'll want to take your time along the Eastern Sierra, maybe spending a night enroute. There is lots to see: Mono Lake, Bodie ghost town as a side trip if time allows, Mammoth Lakes and Devil's Postpile (volcanic and forest landscape), and Mt. Whitney. All the towns between Tioga Pass and Death Valley are charming places with visitor services, recreation, historic sites and museums, and great atmosphere.

After you've had a chance to look at the forums, we can get more detailed about what to do in Death Valley. You won't see everything in a couple of days, but there are some things no first-time visitor should miss.

Janzbro said "we found out only after we had arrived the restaurent is closed on sundays but there is a garage over the road that sells food and drink."

Not sure what place this might be. As long as I can recall, and I've been going for over 25 years, every restaurant in the park has been open 7 days, and I don't know about a garage that sells food and drink. Meals are available at Panamint Springs, Stovepipe Wells, and Furnace Creek every day. Snacks are sold at Scotty's Castle, and the general stores at SPW and FCR have groceries, sandwiches, and snacks.

This could be Death Valley Junction, and the cafe at the Amargosa Hotel. If the Opera House has only a matinee on Sundays, it's possible the cafe may close after the matinee crowd is gone. North of DVJ is a town called Amargosa Valley, and there's a wide spot in the road on U.S. 95 near NV 373 called Lathrop Wells. These have lodging, food, and gas. One of these may be what Janzbro was talking about.

Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
posts: 47,602
reviews: 42
7. Re: October visit-general advice please

I'd recommend 2 nights in Death Valley if you follow your tentative schedule.

Chicago, Illinois
Destination Expert
for Dusseldorf
posts: 2,659
reviews: 265
8. Re: October visit-general advice please

And I reiterate Panamint Springs Resort. It is family owned and run, not a corporate place, not owned by some far away outfit hiring cheap labor, but owned by folks who care about what they are doing, and trying hard to make a living and fix the place up some more. On top of it all, the deck and bar are really desert places where you can meet folks, with no pretension, no care about dress, and watch the Navy dog fight down the valley in an unbelievably gorgeous Death Valley setting in the middle of absolutely nowhere.


Destination Expert
for Sonoma
posts: 4,773
reviews: 68
9. Re: October visit-general advice please

I think you can effectively eliminate the Furnace Creek Inn from your lodging possibilities since their rates in Oct. start around $300 per night.

posts: 875
reviews: 11
10. Re: October visit-general advice please

Frisco, it may have been the bar that was closed - I know we didnt eat here on the night but we did at breakfast

The Garage or gas station I refer to is directly opposite - I only ment it sold sandwiches , pop , beer, chips etc etc not that it was a cafe type affair.

Some sights I would recommend you visit

Father Crowley Point (looking into Death Valley)

Sand dunes outside Stovepipe wells (Easy access from road)

Zabreski point

Artists drive

Devils golf course (like another planet )

Golden canyon

Badwater basin (take a walk out onto the salt flats)

We entered the park from the east and exited south - didnt head notrth to Scottys castle as didnt have time

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