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Death Valley Advice Needed

Stafford UK
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Death Valley Advice Needed

Hi Al;,

we are coming from Kernville over to Death Valley and staying at the ranch that evening and then away in the morning to Las Vegas so really don't have much time at the place.

I would like to see sunset or sunrise. Is it best to do artist drive that evening?

What is best to do that evening/early morning in the limited time we have and whats the best way out the valley to head to Vegas (or most beautiful) was out to Vegas??

any advice very helpful?

San Francisco
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1. Re: Death Valley Advice Needed

Artist's Drive is at its best in late afternoon when the sun is low in the west, about 3:0-4:00 p.m. this time of year, later in the summer. The colorful rock walls face west, so the lowering sun accentuates the colors, which are caused by mineral oxides in the rock.

For actually seeing the sunset, I would suggest Zabriskie Point. It's very close to Furnace Creek Ranch, about a 5-minute drive. The view area faces the west, toward the Panamint range. So you'll see the sun go down behind the mountains.

Dante's View is a grand sunset view, but it's 30 miles from the Ranch and you will be passing there on the way out in the morning, so you might want to go there for sunrise. (You will also be facing west, but the colors on the mountains will be gorgeous nevertheless).

If you have more time, drive up to the Sand Dunes (you'll have passed it on the way in; it's about 22 mi/36 km northwest of the Ranch. Park by the roadside exhibits and walk around in the Sand Dunes, maybe bring something to sit on to relax and watch the sun set. Stove Pipe Wells resort is just west of this spot and you can have dinner there in a rustic, Old West theme dining room with timbers from an old mine, mining artifacts, and Navajo crafts.

San Francisco
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2. Re: Death Valley Advice Needed

As for what to do in the evening and morning, that will depend on what you did on the way in.

The drive from Kernville to Furnace Creek is around 200 mi/320 km, so you'll have time for sightseeing on the way. Hwy 178 over Walker Pass is very scenic. This is the interface between the southern Sierra Nevada range and the northern Mojave Desert, and you'll see large stands of Joshua Trees. This is the spiky-looking plant, a member of the yucca family, that sends branches up at odd angles. It was named by Mormon settlers in the 1850s who were reminded of the Biblical patriarch Joshua raising his arms to the heavens.

I have a suggestion for a historic side trip before you get yo Ridgecrest. It is to the semi-ghost town of Randsburg, a late 19th-early 20th century mining settlement. Coming from the west, you get to it on Hwy 395 south from Inyokern (signed for San Bernardino) and then a side road about 27 miles later. Here is a website for Randsburg that shows you some of the things you'll see. If you've ever wanted to be in a Western movie, this is your chance!

http://www.randsburg.com/

You do not need to backtrack to continue to DV. Take the main Randsburg road back to 395, 395 north for a short distance, and turn onto a road that may be signed for Searles Valley Cut-off or Trona (don't recall exactly). This goes to Hwy 178 to Trona. Trona is the last place to stock up on food or gas before entering the park.

North of Trona, you come to a fork: Wildrose and Panamint Valley roads. The former is a scenic, curvy mountain road, and the amount of green and actual trees is often a surprise to newcomers to DV. The former is more classic Mojave landscapes, drier, with sweeping views of the mountains. I suggest Wildrose just because it is so unexpected to find in the desert. Wildrose Road is paved except for about a mile or less which is gravel; it can't stay paved because of frequent runoff from storms and a spring higher up. It's fine for any car driven carefully.

I don't know if Wildrose Charcoal Kilns interests you; if so, do a search on this forum or the DVNP forum for more details.

I think you'll have time to enjoy Mosaic Canyon. It is a beautiful, colorful hike in a canyon just west of Stove Pipe Wells. It has polished canyon walls that look like white marble, and broken rock floors resembling mosaics. You drive a couple miles on a good gravel road, and you need not walk far to see unusual shapes and colors.

As I mentioned, the Sand Dunes are on your way in, also Devil's Cornfield. The Cornfield is an expanse of arrowweed, a plant that looks like a shock of corn and grows in formations resembling a planted field. The mature stalks were thought to have been used by Native American inhabitants of DV to make arrow shafts.

Depending on the season you come, there may or may not be pupfish to see in Salt Creek. Now is typically the best time. It is a verdant desert marsh in the bottom of the lowest, hottest, driest desert in the Americas! The fish are descended from a prehistoric species that has lived here since the Ice Ages. Again, you can search on these forums for more info about Salt Creek and pupfish.

This puts you about 14-15 miles from Furnace Creek.

For the next day, you can go down Badwater Road and see the natural wonders, all of them in the first 15 miles after you turn off. These include Devil's Golf Course, Badwater, Artists's Drive (unless you did it the evening before), and Golden Canyon. Golden Canyon is, with Mosaic Canyon, one of the hikes I most strongly suggest to newcomers. It's easy to moderate with warm, inviting colors: golden, tan, and reddish brown if you go as far as Red Cathedral.

If you do the Badwater Road sites in the order given, you'll go to the southermost point and return north, and not have to keep crossing over the road. When you get back to the junction with 190, you're welcome to look around the Furnace Creek Inn, a historic Spanish-style resort. The gardens are especially beautiful.

From there, 190 east goes to Death Valley Junction (ghost town, a former borax mining company town and now the home of the Amargosa Hotel and Opera House, and nothing else). From there, take Stateline Road (T-intersection directly across from the hotel) for Pahrump and LV.

San Francisco
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3. Re: Death Valley Advice Needed

* "I have a suggestion for a historic side trip before you get yo Ridgecrest....You do not need to backtrack to continue to DV" *

To clarify, this shortcut means you do not go to Ridgecrest at all. You can, if you need or want to for some reason. The main reason would be if you want a full meal at a sit-down restaurant, because Trona is short on these. Randsburg may have something open, but it also has few choices.

If you do the historic Randsburg side trip, Ridgecrest is then a detour from the direct route to Death Valley.

California
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4. Re: Death Valley Advice Needed

Although the statement that there is nothing at Death Valley Jct. was made, that is a missnomer. Death Valley Jct is the home of the World famous Amargosa Opera House and Hotel. Death Valley Jct was the home of the Pacific Borax Company for several years. At one time it bosted a poplulation of 300. Today it has a total of 4. You can tour the Opera House Sunday thru Friday (a $5 charge person) with a guide to explain the history. Marta Becket still performes on stage (not dancing) from the 1st Saturday in October to the 2nd Saturday in May. Marta moved to Death Valley Jct from New York City in 1967 and has been there ever since. Her art work can be see thoughtout the hotel and the Opera House.

Check out the link at www.

San Francisco
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5. Re: Death Valley Advice Needed

* "Although the statement that there is nothing at Death Valley Jct. was made, that is a missnomer." *

Who said that? I didn't.

Salt Lake City, Utah
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6. Re: Death Valley Advice Needed

Nobody said that there's nothing in Death Valley Junction. Frisco Roadrunner clearly mentioned the Opera House and Inn first. Granted, she could have mentioned the occassional wild horse or burro, but ...

Hi, FF~ Aren't I helping you with the Yoisemite to Kernville part? What time do you have to be in Vegas? I prefer Death Valley over LV ... not even a contest ... so unless you have to be there early, I suggest taking the time to see a few sitesd.

My advice is to leave Kernville as early as possible to maximize DV options. Artist Drive in afternoon after a bit of time at the sand dunes and Devils' Cornfield ... even a short hike into Mosaic Canyon.

Oh ... take the Wildrose road ..,. gorgeous and there will be wildflowers.

7. Re: Death Valley Advice Needed

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