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  1. Default Sequoia NP to Death Valley

    I am planing a trip in Late March / early April, and on one leg am hoping to drive from the South end of the General's HIghway (eg Visalia) to Furnace Creek, Death Valley.

    Other than just any general observations you may have, I have a couple of specific questions I was hoping someone could help with:

    (a) would the fastest route be simply the 99 down to Bakersfield, then the 58 to Hwy 14, connect up with Hwy 395 and then into Death Valley on the 190;

    (b) woudl you go the Hwy 58/14/395 combination, or would you go the hwy 178/395 alternative? Which is quicker / more scenic?

    (c) to get from Visalia to Bakersfield, would you go hwy 99, or Hwy 65?

    (d) finally, there seem to be a number of other roads to essentially cross from hwy 99 to hwy 395 - there seems to be the 155 from Delano to Lake Isabella, or a road that goes from Ducor , California Hot Springs and Johnsondale. I have discounted them because of teh time of year (last week of March) and a general prefernce (with 3 kids in the car) for more major roads. But views would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Routes.

    Hello and welcome to the RTA forums !

    a] Yes, that would be the quickest way.

    b]I would take 65/178 past Lake Isabella. Slightly longer but I would think more scenic. [Not been on other route as I lke off Interstate travel for pleasure].

    c] The 65 to 58 via Bakersfield would be no quicker than cutting through Lake Isabella, and slower than 99 according to my mapping program. Around Exeter the 65 drives through lots of Lemon groves.

    d] I think the 155 from 65 would be OK but you can keep your route options open and "go with the flow". The route through the Sequoia NM that goes via Johnsondale is a spectacular mountain drive, but slow going. If you are heading out of Sequoia the same day it would be too much with the kid's but if you were to start out from somewhere like Porterville you could take 190 through Cedar slope to Johnsondale passing the "Trail of 100 giants" grove of giant Sequoias that has a lovely walk through the tree's. That would give the kid's a chance to stretch their legs and as you head down the Kern river highway you have the lovely little town of Kernville for food and a wander around the stores, although that would amount to a long day especially as you will most likely want to explore parts of Death valley on route to Furnace creek.
    Last edited by Southwest Dave; 01-10-2010 at 06:15 AM. Reason: Clarity

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default what I have done

    I've never driven directly between Sequoia and Death Valley, but having lived in Bakersfield, I've driven on pretty much all the roads you are talking about and here's what I would do.

    If you are actually starting from Visallia, I would take CA-99 to Bakersfield - however, if your specific starting point is a little closer to the National Park -say three rivers or exeter - then I would take CA-65 south. Basically, CA-99 is going to be faster and more direct from Visalia, and while I think CA-65 is a slightly more enjoyable ride since its a two lane road and takes you through a few towns and such, the vast majority of both routes simply have you zipping through Central Valley Farm Country. Starting from farther east, Its worth it to take 65, but from Visalia, CA-65 would also be adding extra miles that wouldn't be worth it to me.

    From Bakersfield to Death Valley, my choice is to take CA-178. The first section to Lake Isabella goes through the Kern River Canyon which is one of my favorite drives in that part of the country. Once you get that far, you'll drive along the lake and eventually over the mountains into the desert. It will take you a little longer than going over CA-58, but it shouldn't be a huge difference and the scenery is worth it to me.

    As far as the other options go. Taking CA-155 from Delano to Lake Isabella could be an option to consider. This is a mountain road so its not the fastest of routes, but since you save some miles by not going to Bakersfield the tradeoff might be worth thinking about. There is a ski resort along this road, so it does stay open all year, but it is subject to snowstorms and chain restrictions. The time I drove it, I was just driving to see where the road took me, having fun and not really looking at the clock, so I don't remember how long this option takes.

    I really wouldn't consider any other option for this trip. The routes that take you into the Sequoia National Monument (Johnsdale) really take you into the mountains, and past some great sites that Dave mentioned. However, since you'll just be coming from the Sequoia National Park, I don't think they'd be worth it for you on this trip.

  4. Default

    Many thanks to both of you for such useful advice! One quick follow up question if I may - is the 178 a relatively "easy" drive (ie not a lot of tight bends, zig zags, climbing sections etc). I am presuming not if it doesn't add a lot of extra time onto the total trip (compared to the 58). Just that because we will be doing a lot of driving that day, and having done General's Highway (weather permitting) the day before, I don't think a difficult drive would be great. Many thanks once again.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Green County, Wisconsin

    Default not bad

    The Kern River canyon portion of the road is twisting and pretty slow, but its a short stretch and doesn't change much in elevation. The rest of the road should be much of a problem.

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