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Death Valley: what should we see

Death Valley: what should we see

Old Oct 6, 15, 2:01 pm
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Death Valley: what should we see

We will be spending two nights at the Furnace Creek Inn in mid November when temperatures should be civilized. I already plan to go to Scotty's Castle (53 mile drive from the hotel) and the Borax Museum. What else should we do? How much of Titus Canyon can we drive with a 2 wheel car? Worthwhile? That site speaks of a section of it as being one way. Between what and what? I see it is well on the way to Scotty's Castle. Can the two be combined as a day trip? Farabee Jeep Rentals offers it for $165 per person. Worthwhile? What about the Badwater Tour mentioned by Farabee for $65 per person?
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Old Oct 6, 15, 5:02 pm
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You either drive all of Titus Canyon or none of it, it's a one way road its entire length except for the last mile or two from the mouth of the canyon to the valley floor road. It is normally accessible to a 2WD car if the car is not too low to the ground but you need to drive quite slowly in the last stretch to avoid kicking up rocks that could damage something underneath the car. And the first part has some psychologically daunting places but is perfectly safe. Use low gear rather than overheating your brakes if possible.

If it is something you try, begin with a visit to the ghost town of Rhyolite just outside the park (and fill your tank with gas in Beatty where it is at least $1 a gallon cheaper than at Furnace Creek). Rhyolite plus Titus Canyon is a full day trip; bring water and a picnic lunch.

Given you have only two full days to explore, I'd sadly recommend skipping Titus Canyon, it's too much. On one day, drive north from Furnace Creek to the sand dunes, Scotty's Castle and Ubehebe Crater. On one day, drive south and west from Furnace Creek to include Zabriskie point, Golden canyon, Artist's Palette, Badwater, as well as the Borax works and mustard canyon just north of the visitor's center.

If you do have extra time on your way in or out, depending on the direction you are going, you could visit Dante's View or the kilns south of Wildrose.

For some unknown reason, I have always found gas to be noticeably cheaper at Stovepipe Wells than at Furnace Springs, although Stovepipe Wells only has regular. But it's way cheaper still outside the park (although on the California side, you have to go a long ways before reaching a station). If you enter by passing through Trona, there is usually at least one gas station open there so fill up as that is the last station you will see until Stovepipe Wells.

$65 per person is a ripoff for Badwater which is perfectly accessible from the main paved n/s road. For Titus Canyon the fee is more reasonable, but I'd rather rent an off-road vehicle and do it on my own.

Last edited by RichardInSF; Oct 9, 15 at 12:27 pm
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Old Oct 6, 15, 9:06 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
...How much of Titus Canyon can we drive with a 2 wheel car? Worthwhile?
Titus Canyon is on my top-three drives I've ever done. Utterly amazing.
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Old Oct 7, 15, 9:05 am
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Very helpful. Thank you, RichardinSF and cblaisd.

Last edited by SanDiego1K; Oct 11, 15 at 11:28 am
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Old Oct 11, 15, 7:32 am
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I once had a geology prof at my alma mater explain why the rocks in areas are such different colors. It is not just the mineral constituency but also because water seeped in at different temperatures during the cooling process. This leads to amazing color variations, particularly visible from Zabriskie point (for reds and yellows) and in Titus Canyon (where there is also a green shade that is rarer). It also can be seen some in Mosaic Canyon, which is a hike that starts not far from Stovepipe Wells.

Of all of these, the easiest one to see is Zabriskie point which should not be missed. I'd even say that wheelchair bound people should be pushed up the hill (the road/path is paved and short but fairly steep) for this, despite the effort.

This phjoto should give you an idea. The high point to the right is Manly Beacon which my kids climbed up once without telling me (or I would have been scared as heck!).



Zabriskie point is a short drive from Furnace Creek. Especially on a moonless night it is also an amazing place to look at stars.

My favorite day hike (carry ample water and munchies, wear sunblock and a hat, this is a desert) is up from post 9 (or is it 10?) of the Golden Canyon nature trail to Zabriskie point and then back down past all the silver mines in Zabriskie Canyon itself -- at the mouth of the canyon is an exit trail that leads back to the Golden Canyon parking lot. This is a 4-5 hour hike with 1000 feet or so of vertical gain so not totally trivial. There are a few psychologically daunting stretches but they are short although you should wear hiking boots and consider walking sticks.

Last edited by RichardInSF; Oct 11, 15 at 7:42 am
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Old Oct 11, 15, 9:04 am
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Beautiful. I knew nothing about Zabriskie (or even Death Valley). Thank you.
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Old Oct 11, 15, 10:54 am
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
Beautiful. I knew nothing about Zabriskie (or even Death Valley). Thank you.
There was a movie titled Zabriskie Point that was released in the early 70's. I remember nothing about the plot, but the setting was spectacular.
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Old Oct 13, 15, 5:47 pm
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check out the ranger programs, the astronomy one is very good. also go to the visitor center at the ranch location, lots of info there. great happy hour at furnace creek.
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Old Oct 14, 15, 12:02 am
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Originally Posted by TWA884 View Post
There was a movie titled Zabriskie Point that was released in the early 70's. I remember nothing about the plot, but the setting was spectacular.
I don't recall any part of that flick being set at Death Valley, but my recollection has been faulty before and I guess it could be again.
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Old Oct 16, 15, 4:34 pm
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Suggestions

The must-sees at Death Valley include Badwater, south of Furnace Creek, as well as Artist Drive on the Badwater Road. Golden Canyon, Natural Bridge, and Devils Golf Course are additional attractions on the Badwater Road if time permits.

On 190-East, Zabriskie Point is an easy highlight. Further along, and high above Badwater (more than 5000 feet below), is Dante's View, which gives you a viewpoint from up high.

If you want to see Titus Canyon the easy way, drive up to the west end of the canyon from the Scottys Castle road, which involves about 3 miles of 2-wheel drive dirt road (not a one-way road here). From the parking lot, you can walk into the canyon and see what it is all about. The road is one-way westbound east of that parking lot.

Gasoline is cheaper at Stove Pipe Wells because the gas station is on federal property and prices are regulated by the NPS. Furnace Creek (the entire resort) is on private lands within the park and unregulated. Coming from Las Vegas, it always makes sense to top off a tank in Pahrump. Incidentally, the best routing from LAS, taking about 2 hours, involves the use of a paved county road (not always clearly marked on maps) from Pahrump to Route 127.
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Old Oct 16, 15, 5:10 pm
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reindeerflame, that is great information. I have printed it out for our trip file. Thank you. We will drive in from San Diego via Ridgecrest. We will leave heading to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs.
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Old Oct 16, 15, 6:41 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
reindeerflame, that is great information. I have printed it out for our trip file. Thank you. We will drive in from San Diego via Ridgecrest. We will leave heading to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs.
Coming to the park from Ridgecrest, the simplest route is to take CA-178 through the Panamint Valley. It is a beautiful area and fairly remote. Top off your gas in Ridgecrest! Route 178 ends at CA-190, which you will take East toward Stovepipe Wells.

Just before Stovepipe Wells watch for a gravel road on the right signed for Mosaic Canyon. It is an in-an-out hike with lots interesting rock formations, including some marble-like slick rock. You can hike in as far as you wish, based on your time and energy, and then walk back down to your car.
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Old Oct 16, 15, 10:58 pm
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Thank you, darthbimmer. That's good information.
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Old Oct 18, 15, 6:53 pm
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Originally Posted by darthbimmer View Post
Coming to the park from Ridgecrest, the simplest route is to take CA-178 through the Panamint Valley. It is a beautiful area and fairly remote. Top off your gas in Ridgecrest! Route 178 ends at CA-190, which you will take East toward Stovepipe Wells.

Just before Stovepipe Wells watch for a gravel road on the right signed for Mosaic Canyon. It is an in-an-out hike with lots interesting rock formations, including some marble-like slick rock. You can hike in as far as you wish, based on your time and energy, and then walk back down to your car.
The route 178 designation actually ends around Trona, but the road continues and is paved all the way to SR190. Those things sticking up to the right that are visible before reaching Trona are the Trona Pinnacles, used as an alien setting in one of the Star Trek movies. They can be reached via a flat dirt road but with the OP's schedule, it is probably not worth taking the time.

As I noted above, there is usually an open gas station during the day in Trona so you can add a few gallons there. Usually, but not always, so definitely top off at Ridgecrest.

Also pick up groceries in Ridgecrest. There is a grocery store of sorts in Trona but make sure to check the expiration date on anything you are thinking of buying there!

The descent from the Trona plateau to the Panamint Valley is pretty but quite twisty.

In the middle of the Panamint Valley there is a short dirt detour off the main road to the ghost town of Ballarat which isn't much of a ghost town so probably not worth the detour. But the slower road reached by taking a later turnoff to Wildrose, which is paved except for a few short stretches, might be an interesting alternate route. If there is no snow and it is early enough in the day, you could make the side trip to the charcoal kilns.

I disagree with the implication a few posts above that parking at the mouth of Titus Canyon and walking in a ways will give you a feel for the whole ride. It's a bit better than nothing but there is lots of different scenic and historical stuff earlier in the trip that you will miss.
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Old Oct 22, 15, 10:07 am
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Goodness. I had already purchased our tickets to see Scotty's Castle. I just got a phone call saying there was a major flash flood that left the road to the castle buried in several feet of mud. The castle is closed until Jan 31 2016 and all tickets are being refunded.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/l...021-story.html
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