You would want to take a few days for this trip, to really enjoy the scenery and make some stops to explore and enjoy specific places. You might want to spend some time at Santa Cruz, Monterey, the Big Sur Coast, and perhaps Hearst Castle. Much depends on what interests you.
Your turnoff from Hwy 1 would be Hwy 46, just south of Cambria. Continue past Paso Robles, and at a junction with Hwy 41, stay on Hwy 46 (signed for Bakersfield). From Bakersfield, you have a couple of ways to get to Death Valley. Hwy 58 is freeway, a hilly and fairly scenic route, but not really dramatic. Hwy 178 is a more rural road along a beautiful river canyon. The distances are similar but Hwy 178 will take a little longer.
Both roads take you to Hwy 395. Go north, following the signs to Ridgecrest, then go north to Trona. North of Trona, take Wildrose Road for a more mountainous, greener route; or Panamint Valley Road for more "classic" Mojave Desert landscapes. I suggest Wildrose because it is so diferent from most of what you will see in Death Valley, and it surprises many newcomers. However if you are staying at Panamint Springs, you'll need to take Panamint Valley Road.
From Cambria to Death Valley is approximately 530-540 km. Where you stop over may depend on what you do and where you stop along Hwy 1. There are decent accommodations at Cambria, Paso Robles, Lost Hills (very basic), Bakersfield, Tehachapi (Hwy 58), Lake Isabella (Hwy 178), Mojave (you will bypass it if you take Hwy 178), and Ridgecrest. But if you get as far as Mojave or Ridgecrest, don't bother stopping over, just go on to Death Valley.
Definitely not a one day trip. Stay in Cambria for the night and to Death Valley next day. Both drives will take most of the day.
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