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Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Destination Expert
for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
16,051 posts
12 reviews
Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

I spent a couple days touring around Death Valley as part of my first trip of the new year. It was part of a longer loop, which would include Las Vegas, Hoover Dam,Oatman,Lake Havasu,Parker Dam, and ending up back in La Quinta, CA.

I left La Quinta at the crack of dawn on New Years Day,which was not easy, believe me. I headed up to Lone Pine,with the idea to drive thru the park from west to east and spend the night in Beatty, Nevada.

Upon arriving in Lone Pine, I headed to the movie museum and took a tour.I had passed that museum numerous times on other trips, but this time I was determined to see it.

The museum is pretty cool.Costs $5 to get in.You start the tour with a movie that chronicles the history of movie making in the Alabama Hills, which are just outside town. After the movie you wander around the museum, and look at all the movie displays.

From there, I headed to the visitor center at the junction of Hwy 395 and Hwy 136. Lots of good information about the region in there.The building has a wall of glass that faces the Sierras and Mt. Whitney.Had to sit in one of the chairs and take that in for a little while.

Speaking of the Sierras , the mountains were almost void of any snow.Very odd for January.In fact, the highway signs were flashing that all the major roads over the mountain passes were still open, Tioga Pass included.

After checking out the visitor center,I was off for DV.

Made a stop at Father Crowley lookout,Panamint Springs, then Stovepipe Wells.Then walked out into the dunes a short way.

It was starting to get late in the afternoon and I wanted to see Rhyolite before getting to Beatty so I got back on the road.

Too bad there are fences around everything at Rhyolite, but I'm sure they would have more vandalism if the fences weren't there.

Ended up staying at Motel 6 in Beatty and eating at Dennys.

Day one pictures.


Got up the next day, planning to enter DVNP via Scottys Junction, since I have never entered the park that way.

I stocked up at Subway, which is inside the candy and nut store.Everything looks so good in the candy store, you could spend a fortune!

Headed up Hwy 95 to Scottys Junction, and turned on Hwy 267 to come in the back way to Scotty's Castle.As you leave Nevada and enter California and the park, the road turns from a two lane highway to a lesser maintained paved road about 1 1/2 lanes wide.

The road winds down the canyon, and when you start seeing palm trees , you know you have to be getting close.

This was my first trip to Scotty's Castle. What a cool place.My only regret was not taking the tour. I just walked around the outside and took a bunch of pictures.

From there I headed to Ubehebe Crater then Furnace Creek.

The visitor center at Furnace Creek is being remodeled, so there is a temporary one in a nearby trailer.Supposed to open June 2012.

Next stop was Badwater, then back to do Artists Drive.The colors at Artists Palette are so cool.

Went back past Furnace Creek Inn and saw Farabees Jeep rentals were across the street from it. They had a booming business going. There were Farabees Jeeps all over the place.

I hit Zabriskie Point before my final destination of the day, Dante's View.I had never been to Dante's View before.I have to say, that was probably the highlight of the trip. The views are amazing.From the snowcapped peak of Mt. Charleston one way, to the snowcapped Telescope Peak and Badwater Basin the other way, it really was quite a sight.Had to pull out a lawnchair and my Subway sandwich, and spend some time admiring the view.

From there it was off to Vegas and a night on the 23rd floor at the South Point before taking off for Hoover Dam the next day.

Second day pictures.


Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
1. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Hi Dez.

Thanks for your TR. Great pics. Tioga Pass open in januari. Must be the first time ever. I agree, the museum in Lone Pine is cute. Hope they survive. Also agree for Dante. Esp its total silence and the lack of tourists. We went several times and only once we had company there.

You covered a lot of miles. What route did you take from La Quinta.


Edmonton, Canada
Level Contributor
3,934 posts
57 reviews
2. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

the tour at scotty's castle is definitly worth it. very interesting.

Level Contributor
364 posts
16 reviews
3. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Seeing your trip report was a nice surprise. The sidewinder looks huge, yikes!

And I like the advice on Scottys tombstone.

Happy new year and thanks for nice report. DVNP is one of my favs.

Destination Expert
for Zion National Park, Joshua Tree National Park
Level Contributor
16,051 posts
12 reviews
4. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Tet, my route from LQ to DV was I-10,210,15,395,136/90.

I think it took about 4 hours to get to Lone Pine.Got into Beatty about 4:30.

The sidewinder is a picture on a NPS sign.No way I would get anywhere near that close to take a picture of a real one!

Level Contributor
10,853 posts
30 reviews
5. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Tioga Pass opening and closing dates:


The California snowpack may be very low this year if conditions don't change soon. Of course, it's still early in the season and the CA 2010-2011 snowpack was still about normal through mid-February and ended up being far above average.


Lincoln, United...
Level Contributor
254 posts
33 reviews
6. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Hi, Really enjoyed reading your trip report ,and looking at your pics. Brings back alot of great memories of a very similar trip we did in september. We actually hiked down to the bottom of ubehebe crator, amazing, but not so easy to get out.


Uden, The...
Destination Expert
for Road Trips
Level Contributor
60,942 posts
42 reviews
7. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

4 hours, that's very fast. Prob because of NY's day in the LA direction.

Santa Ana, CA
Level Contributor
3,037 posts
14 reviews
8. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Thanks for the great trip report and photos, dez!

I was there in November but never wrote a TR. I stayed 3 nights in Stovepipe Wells and the 4th night at that Amargosa Hotel and Opera House.

I did give a review of my cheeseburger at the Stateline Saloon:


San Francisco
Destination Expert
for Death Valley Junction, Death Valley National Park
Level Contributor
13,214 posts
44 reviews
9. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

Thanks for the nice TR, dez, and all the details.

The Lone Pine visitor center is only a few years old. It's's a big improvement over the old one, but the old one was more "quaint." The building still stands, to the west of the new center; I suppose it's used for storage.

I also stayed at M6 in Beatty over Christmas. It's OK, not exciting or luxurious. The laundromat is handy. A guest lounge would be nice since it has no pool or other recreation or sitting area, and not everyone is ready to just go to their room at the end of the day. I was tempted one night to walk over to Denny's, but then I thought of what a fine little town Beatty is, and how I hope it won't be overrun by national chain stores, and I decided to support the locals. I went to Death Valley Firepit BBQ twice--it's very good. I would have stayed at El Portal but it didn't have vacancies to match my schedule.

I was surprised you'd never been to Scotty's Castle or Dante's View, and glad you were able to see them. You have the advantage of living close enough that you can go back and tour the Castle some other time. After the house tour, try to fit in the underground tour. You see the utilities, the generator, solar water heater (remember, this was built in the 1920s), unfinished parts, and more. Albert Johnson, Scotty's pal who built the Castle, was an insurance executive, but his education was in engineering. People interested in architecture, construction, or environmental technology will enjoy the underground tour. It is not ADA accessible and there are some confined spaces and low ceilings.

I guess I'm overdue to write my TR and reviews of the places where I stayed or ate. I'll try to get to it soon.

10. Re: Trip Report- Death Valley New Years Day

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