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  1. Default Done homework, know route, help needed on one Death Valley aspect


    My hubs and I (in our 60's) will leave Vegas, go through Death Valley and then Highway 395 up to Lake Tahoe. We are from Europe and not big drivers - if leaving Vegas around 11 in the morning on 27th May (can't leave earlier) is it fine timewise to go straight through to Lone Pine (or better stop at Stovepipe wells)? We just dont' want a totally exhausting drive and heat and road conditions we have no feeling for.
    We know there is so much to see in Death Valley but sadly have to head up to Lee Vining for the evening of 28th - only night of 27th to drive through and stay over somewhere............thought going through better than missing it and heading up straight to Bishop.

    Any advice appreciated - thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Central California

    Default Its all beautiful.


    The entire drive is wonderful, if you like both deserts and mountains.

    Personally, I'd stay in Stovepipe Wells so I could spend as much time in Death Valley as possible. You'll have time to stop at Badwater and look at the salt flats, maybe visit Scotty's Castle, drive some of the other side road such as the one to Zabriskie Point (consider doing this one at sunrise before leaving), and walk the sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells before it gets dark (the dunes are also magical in early morning or late afternoon when the sun is low).

    The remaining drive to Lee Vining is not long or difficult, and you won't find as many reasons for stopping along the way - maybe a lunch stop in Bishop.

    Have a great trip,


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands


    Yes, one of the best NP's! Agree with Graig about staying at SPW. Ask for an east facing room at the 49niner or Roadrunner building. Larger rooms with a small fridge and a porch and maybe sunset over SPW dunes, glass in hand. Awesome. Also good dining.
    Count on 3.5 hours without stops driving Las Vegas-Pahrump-Soshone, Badwater-Furnace Creek-SPW. And add several hours for the visits like at Badwater, Devils Golfcourse, Artist Palette, Zabriskie Point, Stovepipe Wells dunes and Devils cornfield. Also maybe drive up the dirt road to Mosaic Canyon just east of SPW Village. The detour to Scotty's Castle will be too long imo and being from Europe as well, we were not impressed. Unfortunately you also will miss Ubehebe Crater close to Scotty's Castle but you'll have to make choices I'm afraid. Next day drive up to Lone Pine. There's a great photo stop some miles before Lone Pine with spectacular views on the Eastern Sierra's and Mnt Whitney and the Alabama Hills. Many movies where made at the hills and it's worth to drive around a bit. North of Lone Pine is Manzanar NHS, a painful episode in history. In Bishop there a great bakery next to the Best Western. Erik Schat is the name and he's a countryman of mine. Delicious. Maybe also make the detour to Devils Postpile NM near Mammoth Lakes and a visit to Mono Lake is a must. Maybe take the short loop via June Lake before. In Lee Vining have a bite at Whoa Nellie Deli on 120 towards Tioga Pass. It's at the pumpstation but don't let that mislead you.
    Have fun, Great trip.

  4. Default Just read that 178 (Kernville..) is also great (were doing 395 to SF)

    Hello all,

    Excitement -coming from UK next week - re-reading everything here - trip planned so far for end of next week is Las Vegas to Stovepipe Wells in DV....then up to Bishop and Lake Tahoe - end San Francisco (then down Coastal Highway to Los Angeles)

    Just seen that from Lone Pine if one takes 178 through to kernville and then to also lovely. IS IT AS NICE A ROUTE AS UP 395?

    sorry, had ignored this as was concentrating solely on 395 up.

    Once at Bakers towards SF - where are nice places to stay (hubs and I are in 60's but love SWIMMING so areas with motels/hotels and nice pools - nature - the norm I guess.

    We have 3 days from Death Valley to San Francisco.

    Tks, for any tips or links to what I'm looking for.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands

    Default Lake Isabella

    Hi Sky
    178 between us395 and Bakersfield is a nice drive esp. west of Lake Isabella (you won't swim here, too cold) and you'll see Joshua Trees but on a trip like yours I would not want to miss the drive up 395 along the eastern sierra's. maybe Tioga Pass will be open. They are working on it right now.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.


    hi there,
    the 178 feels quite remote through death valley and passes by an old ghost town [forget the name]and although it's fascinating not spectacular like some other places in D/V. i'd say from trona to lake isabella it's fairly average [compared to the spectacular ones you come across anyway]as i don't remember to mutch about it.
    i'm not sure about after lake isabella towards bakersfield but i have heard it's a nice drive but it looks like freeways to san fran which i find boring.
    we headed north to kernville from isabella and drove up through the kern valley to johnsondale an onto quaking aspen on the mountain roads which we found spectacular. near johnsondale there is a grove of sequoias called "the trial of 100 giants" which has a lovely trial you can walk around.
    this would bring you out near portersville where you could head for exeter through miles and miles of lemon groves which once again you can choose between heading towards the freeway or the 198 [generals highway] towards three rivers and to the giants forest,home of the largest living thing on earth,the general sherman tree.
    these are spectacular twisty mountain roads with wonderfull scenery,but this does make them slow going and may seem like a workout,but it's an option.
    between the bakersfield and 395 options,i'd probably stick to the 395/tahoe.
    have a great trip!
    p.s. if tioga opens i would definately cross there,the drive and yosemite are spectacular

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default no bad options

    As has been said to some degree already, there really are no bad options for this. 178 is probably one of the most overlooked options, but the trip to Lake Isabella is nice, and if you continue on to Bakersfield you will go through the Kern River Canyon, which is one of the most underrated drives in California. Its a very scenic drive for about 30 miles, right along side the rapidly flowing river. As was mentioned, you wouldn't want to go swimming in it, not just because of cold but also the exceptionally fast current. Every year it seems a couple of people ignore the many no swimming signs (some which even include the number of people who have died in the river), and learn the hard way.

    But then, you could also go north from Lake Is through Kernville and continue up into the Sequoia National Monument. Or you could skip 178, and go north along US-395, crossing at one of the more northern passes. They are all great trips, no matter which one you choose.
    Last edited by Midwest Michael; 05-17-2008 at 09:32 AM. Reason: clarification

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    The Netherlands


    If you want to take 178 from Death Valley already, Lone Pine will be a detour. Name of the ghosttown is Ballarat and I have to correct myself. Mosaic Canyon is not east of SPW but west. Sorry for that.

  9. Default Kernville up through Johnsondale, Quaking Aspen..

    thanks ever so much (as ever) for your help. 178 it will be - one last little thing - is it a nice drive up from kernville to johnsondale and quaking aspen ending out near porterville.

    i think it must be and hopefully fine for end of May travel. Doing it this way, will be get to see great trees without going then into the actual park the three rivers way from Visalia. Skip or not?


  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default forest, monument, park

    Check out this thread, which does a good job of describing the parts of the Sequoia National Monument and National Forest where you are looking at traveling, and how it differs from going into the Sequoia National Park.

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