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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    gold coast, australia
    Posts
    4

    Default Las Vega - Death Valley - Mariposa: best scenic route

    Firstly, congrats on the RTA website, we Aussies have found it to be very useful for planning the road trip parts of our May 08 golden triangle holiday (such as discovering that Tioga Pass does not open till late May).

    Secondly, we realise that the Death Valley topic has been covered by many threads in the past, however we have not found any specific info on the best scenic route.

    We are planning a road trip from Las Vegas to Mariposa (gateway to Yosemite) for the start of May. We are considering a route through Death Valley,

    Option 1 is via Pahrump and Shoshine onto CA178 to drive through Death Valley from south to north. Is there much to see on this route to make it worthwhile. Stopover would be a hotel at either Lone Pine or Beatty.

    Option 2 is via Beatty where we would (hopefully) find a hotel to stay and do an afternoon drive into the northern section of Death Valley. How far south do you have to go into Death valley to see the best bits.

    After Death Valley, we are seeking the best scenic route to Mariposa with 2 overnight stops on the way. We are thinking of a route via Kernville (stopover) and then up to a town with hotels near Sequoia NP for another stopover.

    The last leg would be via Sequoia NP then onto Mariposa for a 2 night stopover - this will allow a whole day to visit Yosemite.

    Any feedback will be greatly appreciated.
    Paul and kaye.

    PS. Would it be neccessary to book accommodation in advance (as this limits the flexibility of a road trip) or is it easy to come by on the road.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2000
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada
    Posts
    9,503

    Default Beatty makes no sense on either leg!

    Quote Originally Posted by cooch181 View Post
    Secondly, we realise that the Death Valley topic has been covered by many threads in the past, however we have not found any specific info on the best scenic route.
    Every road into Death Valley is scenic. Welcome to the Great American RoadTrip Forum! Beatty is way, way out of your way and makes little sense for either of the route options specified above.

    Shoshone is a cute little town, with a fun, albeit small, western museum -- but for the most scenic route into Las Vegas, consider the route shown in this Las Vegas day trips article.
    Option 2 is via Beatty where we would (hopefully) find a hotel to stay and do an afternoon drive into the northern section of Death Valley. How far south do you have to go into Death valley to see the best bits.
    From Furnace Creek Junction I would drive south to the Artist's Palette and Bad Water. You should also take the Twenty Mule Team drive (one way dirt, but easy) and then follow CA-190 west out of the park.

    I would stay overnight either in Death Valley (Furnace Creek or Panamint Springs) or at Lake Isabella.

    A few reading threads for you:

    Craig's summer journey -- this leg has bits about Death Valley, Sequoia and parts west.
    Las Vegas to Yosemite via Death Valley
    A little brief on the differences between Sequoias and Redwoods


    Mark

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,413

    Default Great route.

    Hi there,
    I agree with Mark's route through D/V although I think Furnace creek is to soon to stop overnight. It is however worth stopping there for a look around and to get a nice cold drink and maybe some tucker.

    After Death Valley, we are seeking the best scenic route to Mariposa with 2 overnight stops on the way. We are thinking of a route via Kernville (stopover) and then up to a town with hotels near Sequoia NP for another stopover.
    Very scenic.
    Following the Kern river highway towards Johnsondale and a short stop at "The Trial of a hundred giants" [a lovely grove of Giant Sequoias] and up through Quaking Aspen and Camp wilson is a very scenic mountain drive. It's also slow going so I think it would be worth getting to Lake Isabella for your first stop.
    This will bring you out near Porterville and Visalia where there are miles of Lemon/Orange groves before heading up the Generals highway through Three rivers [A stop over around here perhaps?] and to the Giants forest. It will be another scenic but slow going drive but you will have plenty of time to explore and get to Oakhurst/Mariposa on the doorstep of Yosemite.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,401

    Default

    I was going to suggest that exact route into Death Valley last night, but decided to wait and see what the advisors had to say. I'm going to elaborate just a bit to help you keep on track, as it involves unnumbered roads.

    Take NE-160 out of LV to Pahrump. Go through the center of town and watch for Bell Vista Ave and turn left. A couple of miles out of town, you take a left zigzag and it becomes Ash Meadows Rd. Just before the state line, you curve to the left onto State Line Rd. This ends at Death Valley Junction, you turn right on CA-127, followed by an almost immediate left onto CA-190, which takes you to the East entrance.

    Editor's Note: (And actually if you use that Day Trips link shown above, there is a handy Google Map with the route carefully orchestrated for you) And finding Ash Meadows road is easy -- there is a large brown-background sign that reads DEATH VALLEY with an arrow...

    Doing Yosemite last can have a big benefit - the later it is, the more likely Tioga Pass will be open for the season. This would be a great finale for the trip and let you return to LV without retracing a lot of steps.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 12-10-2008 at 10:29 AM. Reason: added a clarification

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    gold coast, australia
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks everyone, your tips are very helpful.

    From my googling, Lake Isabella appears to have very limited accommodation. It is also 560km from Las Vegas making it a long day if we want to sight seeing in DV.

    Panamint or Furnace Creek sound like good options - is there good accommodation at these locations? Would you advise booking in advance?

    We are going to stay 2 nights in Mariposa to allow a full day excursion into Yosemite. From Mariposa we head to San Francisco for 4 nights then another 5 day road trip down Hwy 1 to LA.

    Is Mariposa a good option to use as a base to explore Yosemite and the surrounds or is there a better town to use?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    gold coast, australia
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Since we are planning 3 stops before Mariposa, we thought Beatty would be a good point to visit DV and other things like an old ghost town. What other attractions are around Beatty and is accommodation readily available.

    After Beatty, Kernville or Lake Isabella would be our next stop, then onto Three Rivers for our last stop before Mariposa.

    Is the Western Divide Hwy from Kernville to Three Rivers worth the extra travel time seeing how we will be doing a mountainous route through Sequoia NP?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    South of England.
    Posts
    8,413

    Default 3 stops, even better !

    Hi cooch,

    Since we are planning 3 stops before Mariposa, we thought Beatty would be a good point to visit DV and other things like an old ghost town. What other attractions are around Beatty and is accommodation readily available.
    Gotcha ! I thought it was 2 stops in total.

    I would still take the route offered to Furnace creek/Badwater [also included are Dantes view and Zabriskie point views] and if you wanted to head towards Beatty where there is Rhyolite ghost town, turn right on the Beatty cut off on 374. Depending on your timing you could loop around to Scotty's castle and back down to Stovepipe wells and the sand dunes putting you back on the 190. Here's a map of Death Valley which will make things clearer.
    You will also notice that from Panamint springs you have the option of taking the Panamint valley road to Ridgecrest which also passes Ballarat ghost town. That section feels very remote.
    I have not stayed there but have heard good things about the accomodation at Stovepipe wells. I am not familiar with Beatty but there are accomodations there.

    From my googling, Lake Isabella appears to have very limited accommodation.
    A very highly thought of place that is situated just North of Kernville is McNallys Fairview lodge but there are quite a few links to Lodgings in the area here.

    Is the Western Divide Hwy from Kernville to Three Rivers worth the extra travel time seeing how we will be doing a mountainous route through Sequoia NP?
    It is a matter of opinion, but mine would be yes, especially as you have the time but then again I am very much a "Take the scenic route" type of person, where the in between is more important than the destination ;-)

    On a side note, while you are in San Fran I would recommend the Alcatraz tour if you are into that sort of thing, it's fascinating. It's worth booking in advance and this is the only place to get official tickets without having to book other tours with it through a tour operator. Check out Pier '39 as well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    gold coast, australia
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Dave,

    Thanks for the follow-up, you are a wealth of knowledge. PS, I like how you knew my nickname, I guess the cooch181 gave it away :-)

    We have decided to avoid Beatty as it is a long deviation from our main route. After DV, we will drive until we get tired/bored - which might be Ridgecrest, Lake Isabella or even Bakersfield.

    We are also giving the Western Divide a miss as we will see enough mountain driving though the Sequioa NP. We Aussies drive on the opposite side and Kaye is afraid I might drive off the mountain or into an oncoming car :-)

    So it will either be CA99 or CA65 to Three Rivers - is the latter a good scenic route?

    Again, thanks mate for your great advice (and the other members as well).

    Avagoodweekend
    Cooch

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Joplin MO
    Posts
    7,401

    Default

    I have never been on CA-65, but CA-99 is not very scenic, it's just another freeway through an agricultural area. If you are in a hurry, that's what you take.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Green County, Wisconsin
    Posts
    10,951

    Default Stick to CA-65

    I always used CA-65 when I'd drive from Bakersfield to Sequoia or other parts of that area. Its a rural highway with very few towns to slow you down until you get around Exeter on the north end of the route. There is an expressway through Porterville, so that speeds things up too. I believe the speed limit on the route is 65.

    Scenic wise, both 65 and CA-99 go along the eastern edge of the Central Valley and go through the same basic landscapes.

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