Welcome to Death Valley!

updated 4/2/17 I’d be happy to answer any questions about DV – email me at Jwest0554@gmail.com I can see Telescope Pk from my computer but I’m 2 valleys over. Telescope is currently WHITE from snow, but it’s melting!  I keep track of weather, and happenings around Ridgecrest and DV.
There is so much to tell you about Death Valley – so this long missive is separated into “accordion” sections –  check the list all the way to the bottom!! Contained herein are TONS of useful information about DV that is not in NPS brochures; –  just nuts and bolts of how to get yourself to this amazing place, stay somewhere, and see lots of magnificent desert!! This is NOT an official DV NPS page– it’s just maintained by the little ole travel webmistress for the Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave, in Ridgecrest, CA…(Ridgecrest is two valleys west of Death Valley. I’ve been going to DVNP for well over 50 yrs…). Your best source of current conditions -their website,  and Facebook – search for Death Valley Road Conditions.

The road crews have been working hard on DV roads and ALL paved roads are now open EXCEPT;
Scotty’s Castle road from Grapevine Junct to Hwy 95 in Nevada is closed, probably won’t open till 2019 or so.
Lower Wildrose from the Wildrose Day Use Area down to the Panamint Valley road is CLOSED.  as in with K-rails, locked gates.  They’re finally working on it!!  And the unpaved stretch of the Panamint Valley Road its FINALLY PAVED!  YEAH!

It SNOWED!!  Yes, it does that.  Down below Townes Pass!  It was closed for a while.   See more in “roads” below. Crazy weather!!  Wettest January on record.  Lots of dirt roads closed, some under snow and ice.  Check Facebook – “Death Valley Road Conditions” before you go anywhere.  Check the Morning Report posted at the Visitor Center and Ranger Stations.  More snow and rain coming!!

CHECK BEFORE YOU GO!!  The Morning report is NO LONGER POSTED on the web, but it is FAXed to various outlets. The Maturango Museum gets a copy every morning about 9 a.m.   There is a link on the main NPS page to the Las Vegas Weather Service so you can at least get some data.  DV Road Conditions are ONLY on Facebook ; these are the most current road conditions available.  Crazy weather keeps happening!!  Morning report is posted at Ranger Stations – it does exist, just not on the web where it might be useful…

The Bottom of Death Valley is only 2 hrs. from Ridgecrest and our Museum.

Do people really go to DV in the summer??  Oh YES!!  The European tourists are here – I heard a lot of German, Italian, French, and Russian there.  They come to “feel dry heat”.  whatever…   Is it safe?  Yes if you don’t go hiking at noon!  BE sensible.

Don’t feed the begging coyotes.  They eat rabbits, not people food!!  Take only photos!!

Read on!  There are 11 accordion sections below!!

Death Valley - General info

3/20/17

SNOW!!   Yup, Nov through May.  Sometimes as low as Towne Pass! and lower.   could snow up high at any time!

Can you get to Death Valley without getting into snow?  Sure- from the EAST side – Take Hwy 127 north from Baker, go to DV  via Death Valley Junction to Furnace creek,95 to Beatty and 374 into the park.

No snow issues getting there from Las Vegas, only from the west side – Hwy 395, and only occasionally

***New rule in CA – must allow 3 feet between your vehicle and bicycles!!.   If you drive an RV, that’s tricky!!

Barren? no! Just sand? nope!! Awesome? definitely! BIG. No, HUGE!! Trees? not many. Snakes? yup. Is it safe?? yup, if you’re careful – see below. Anything to see? nah…just a bunch of colored rocks, sand, other stuff- and sometimes snow and water and lakes!  Rain? – comes in bunches when it comes!

Gas much cheaper at Stovepipe and at FC then PS!  PS has been running $4.99+/gal.  Ever since FC gas station went generic, it’s about the same as SP, but only FC has all 4 grades.

Sierra Passes are all CLOSED and likely to remain so well into June.  – see http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/Hourly,  but subject to snow closures with every storm.   

***The “official” government page on Death Valley is at www.nps.gov/deva . Do check it out – they have lots of good info and photos that you won’t find here- look under History and Science. This page has other kinds of info, and I try to keep it updated…   Visiter Center Winter Hours 8a.m. to 5p.m.   Campgrounds in winter mode too – ALL are OPEN.  Reservations required for Furnace creek.

***the MORNING REPORT!!!  is GONE.  DVNP can’t post it on their web page.  Big brother at NPS won’t let them.  Check Facebook for road info, and Las Vegas weather for DV forecast.   Call them if you have questions or can’t get the report!  Please also check out the Facebook Page which they and others update.  Best and only resource for current road conditions!!  See https://www.facebook.com/DeathValleyRoadConditions see also map http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/upload/Backcountry-Roads-Map.pdf
N
ote:  the Morning Report IS still generated every day, just not posted on the web.  So call with your questions – 760-786-3200, hit 0

Badwater Road is  open all the way to Shoshone.  No gas for 76 miles. No water.
 Scotty’s Castle was the other area of the park most severely affected by October 2014 storms. A contract to connect a temporary waterline from the spring to the historic structures’ fire suppression system is in progress. Southern California Edison has replaced power poles and repairs of the electrical distribution system at Scotty’s Castle should start soon. There is still a lot more work to be done, including redesigning and reconstructing 8 miles of road, replacing portions of the sewer system, permanent water line replacement, and repairs to multiple historic structures. Water entered the annex wing of Scotty’s Castle and two other historic structures again during a storm on April 27, highlighting the need for repairs. Park officials hope to have Scotty’s Castle fully repaired and reopened by 2019.

***Monsoons have been hitting different areas in the park all summer and fall.   Roads close, open – hard to keep track.  Important that you DO keep track.  Important that you be VERY CAREFUL when storms come!  Check Facebook posts under Death Valley Road Conditions. 
Big Pine Road open to Scotty’s road.  NO GAS for 135 miles (at Stovepipe or 145 mi at Furnace Creek.

Cottonwood Canyon – graded to the top of the fan; 4×4 beyond that- not so good.  great hike to see petroglyphs
Dante’s View – OPEN
Emigrant Canyon OPEN to Charcoal Kilns  and Mahogany now.
Hunter Mountain road down to Hidden Valley – iffy, snow, mud, slick – 4×4 for sure!  Ice near the spring.
Keane Wonder Mine road – closed till they get all the arsnic out
Panamint Valley Road -OPEN!!   and  paved all the way!
Racetrack Road – OPEN, ROUGH!! but very very washboardy near Teakettle Junction.  That road EATS tires – be careful! Not for “city” tires.  Be sure your vehicle has a “real” spare, not a donut.  Clearance not an issue – it’s sharp rocks and washboard.  Stay off the Playa!!!! you’ll slip, you’ll be leaving tracks that will be there forever…
Lippencott Rd. – 4×4, narrow wheel base.  A Subaru got stuck last week…. several very rocky sections, some very narrow places!Saline Valley -Both North and South Passes are now open and recently graded!  Subaru-type road for now…. but that can change with the next storm.
Saline – North Pass – deep snow, mud, deep ruts, slippery;   South Pass – no snow, kinda in good shape
Warm Springs (AKA Bat) Road – i.e.  park road up to the springs – not too bad now, easy at the dips, one soft sandy place
Scotty’s Castle Road – CLOSED, WASHED OUT!!  on both sides of the Castle~!!  No through traffic to Hwy 95. 
Steel Pass – very difficult-always 4×4!  Dedecker Canyon (north side of Steel pass) always 4×4 and high clearance and narrow wheel base at the steps- they’re OK, but you’ll need a spotter.   See Saline Valley web page for latest! http://forum.salinepreservation.org/?forum=162656
Titus Canyon open.  call.   have high clearance and good tires, high clearance necessary, but not 4×4
West Side Road  open
Wildrose Road (lower) – Closed, seriously washed out. Inyo Co. is working on it!  Stay out!!. $$$$
Darwin Falls Trail -very rough!

http://www.nps.gov/deva/upload/Visitor-Guide.pdf the Visitor Guide  is full of current great info!  Lots of suggestions on places to go, current info.  Great map in center.  Download this guide, stick it on your portable device, get one in the visitor center!

Note:  If you pay your entrance fee $25 at one of the ‘iron rangers”, the park does not get much of that $$.  Better to give it to a real ranger either at Stovepipe or Furnace Creek – then the park gets to keep all the fee to use for projects.

Campgrounds now in Wiinter mode – ALL are open!    Reservations needed for Furnace Creek CG.  Mahogany and Grapevine nice in summer.   No fires up high.  NO wood gathering!

Gas – yikes!! Usually  little cheaper at Stovepipe, but only 87 octane, 24/7 with credit cards;    Furnace Creek station is no longer Chevron and prices are similar to those at Stovepipe, but it has diesel and all 3 grades 24/7 w/ credit cards. The T-Stop is now Valero in Trona, and there is now a Shell Station in Trona, but – Fill up in Ridgecrest!  or in Olancha. 

Pilots – there no longer is any AVgas at the DV airport.    Diesel only at Furnace Creek and sometimes at Panamint Springs.

  Secretary of the Interior announced that the National Park Service will waive admission fees & encouraged all Americans to make a New Years resolution to visit a national park this year.   Dates for 2016; – To encourage Americans to explore America’s natural beauty, rich history and culture, the National Park Service will waive admission fees on 17 days in 2016. In addition, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service will waive their entrance and standard amenity fees on some of those days too.   Last one – Veteran’s day  Every Fourth Grader in a Park works!

The main Visitor Center  had an “extreme makeover”!  Note vast changes in the parking lot, like SHADE on top of which will be solar panels. Better restrooms. Updated Auditorium. Larger lobby.  It’s really nice! Brand new exhibits – very different from the old ones- go see.  The Furnace Creek Visitor Center is the primary visitor contact facility in Death Valley National Park.  The park is providing its full range of services including answering and assisting visitors with their questions and park planning needs, issuing backcountry permits, issuing park passes, and selling books and other educational materials through the Death Valley Natural History Association. The park is providing a full range of ranger conducted activities throughout the winter and spring. Showing is a new orientation video, well done!. In the big bookstore there is a row of chairs along the window all with free wifi. Books, maps, and info are available at the little Station just east of Stovepipe Wells (when the flag is up),

New – Virtual Museum – see www.nps.gov/history/museum/exhibits/death_valley/index.html   Cool stuff on Scotty’s castle – B&W photos, construction stuff, people, and a video of the castle organ;  also scenery, artifacts, etc.  Fun page to play with!

“Stimulus Funds” and your Entrance Fees are making a difference!! All the main roads have been repaved,  new stuff at Ubehebe and Father Crowley Overlook (a new bathroom!!), new mileage signs, new directional signs. Yeah!! Your $$ at work.

And – a group from NASA was in the park summer 2010 studying the rocks at the Racetrack. Pretty interesting stuff at http://lpsadeathvalleyexcursion.blogspot.com fun to read city kid’s opinions of our favorite desert. Data needs analyzing before they have any notion of just why the rocks move, but they have sensors imbedded in the Race Track Playa, and are able to do experiments on Bonnie Clare lakebed (outside park, landing strip for Scotty’s Castle).

Take water, drink it!, wear hat while hiking during the day – air is very, very dry! –

CELL PHONE SERVICE now working at the Ranch and at Stovepipe!!!  – ATT only, but my Verizon phone works on “extended”. 4 bars!     Verizon works in Trona, but not ATT.   Free WiFi at the Visitor Center DVNHA store (when it’s up)  Xantera properties have WiFi in the rooms.   NO cell coverage in most of the Valley unless you can see Stovepipe or Furnace Creek-  not at DV Junction…  However, calling 911 seems to work almost anywhere?!

Stovepipe wells has a new concessionaire – a family-owned company, Death Valley Lodging co. Same phone number, same operation mostly – they have done major upgrades to the rooms, both amenities and decor, and the store- completely redone.  Gas available 24/7 with credit cards, and price is now posted in a large sign.  Always cheaper here.  NOte:  no cell service or WiFi at Stovepipe!  enjoy quietness….

Dark skies – yes, those are stars up there, and planets, and galaxies, and nebula that you can see with your naked eye! BUT – gotta get away from the glow of Las Vegas to the SE. Suggestions: Panamint Valley. If you’re staying at Stovepipe, you should be able to just walk away from the new lower lights, or drive out toward the sand dunes or up toward Emigrant. If you’re at the Furnace Creek zoo, head on down toward Badwater, maybe as far as Artist’s Drive turnoffs and park there, or go out into the middle of the valley at Devil’s Golf Course; that’ll get you out away from the mountains with a good shot at the sky. Or up toward Dante’s view road, but watch the glow problem. Mesquite Campground is wonderful. That amazing shot from the Racetrack was taken in the fall when the skies are clear and the playa dry, and it was a long time exposure…but indeed, that’s a wonderful place to find Dark Skies. Have fun!  See the new dark sky exhibit in the VC!

Watch the clouds – Telescope is no place to get caught when there’s a storm! Watch the weather report!! Head down if you see a storm coming – and you CAN see storms coming!! Keep eyes on the sky. Carry jackets, flashlights, food, water, etc. when you come here no matter what time of year.  Lightning is an issue, as is hail – don’t do it if there’s a storm coming. Folks die!  Telescope is now a lovely summer hike, as long as there aren’t any clouds. It can be deadly.

 GPS MAPS ARE NOT RELIABLE ON BACKCOUNTRY ROADS IN DV!! Be sensible! Don’t get stuck. If it looks bad, turn around while you still can. It’ll be there when you come back. If you aren’t getting where you think you should be, turn around!!!! Don’t rely on GPS maps to get you out of trouble – they’re NOT accurate!!   DON’T CROSS RUNNING WATER!! DON’T GET STUCK IN SNOW!!!! road or trail. It’s bigger than you are! If you get stuck, STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE!! It’s fairly easy to spot a vehicle from the air, but almost impossible to spot a person. Tell someone, anyone, where you are going and when you expect to be back – !!

Thunderstorms and  hail definitely happening.. Watch the sky. Just cuz it’s not raining where you are, doesn’t mean water isn’t going to run downhill TO where you are…. don’t camp in a wash, don’t be hiking in a canyon in the afternoon, don’t cross water when it runs across the road or your trail. Moving water is a powerful thing- more than you or your vehicle can handle! How do you think those canyons and huge alluvial fans got there!! It’s been windy – VERY windy sometimes….

The sand dune parking lot- Gets you closer to the dunes, but makes it harder to get good sunset shots from the road level. It’s farther than it looks to the high dunes, like about an hour hike one way – take water, even in winter, don’t get lost!  You can’t see your cars when you get into the dunes! Folks have died here every year!….

Area Code 760 has been given an “overlay”, making it necessary to dial the 760 area code even if you’re calling DV from a 760 area code. You now need to dial all 11 numbers – 1-760-whatever, even when calling between numbers in the park. Sigh. Except 911 – just dial 911…

Web Cam – from Visitor center looking west toward mountains – http://www.zeitcam.com/webcam/deathvalley

On-line reservations!  You can reserve a room in any of the 4 hotels/motels on line – see their websites.  You can reserve campsites at Furnace Creek (required Oct 15-April 15), see camping info.  You can even reserve spaces on the Scotty’s Castle Tours – all 3 kinds of them, at http://recreation.gov.   Lots of info in the Park Newspaper.

Park Entrance Fees are now $25/car  The Park gets to keep the fees IF you pay a real ranger (Iron Ranger fees do not all go to the park, a lot to the concessionaire) . Makes the $80 Annual “America the Beautiful” Pass still a real deal – get at Visitor Centers. Note that the Senior, Disabled, and Volunteer passes have changed – they are now plastic, and all are called “American the Beautiful” passes.

Remember this is a deep valley. Cell phone reception is limited/non-existent (which means “On Star” doesn’t work either) except near the Furnace Creek Ranch and Stovepipe.  But not in the rest of the park – at all. However, folks have dialed 911 from strange places and it seems to connect. ?? Satellite phones work wonderfully well, of course – lots of sky. TV reception: Ya gotta be kidding! NOPE, unless you have a satellite dish, or stay indoors. GPS (from satellites) works wonderfully well – no trees, no clouds- BUT the maps most have are not good, so don’t rely on it for road info.  Marking your location to get back to the car works great, but don’t trust road info!! 

SPOT things work if not in a canyon. 🙂

How about Bicycles?? or Dogs??

Bicycles can now be rented at the Furnace Creek General Store!  And they do guided tours.  Street bikes can, of course, ride on the paved roads – BUT – there is NO shoulder to speak of in most places on the main road through the park. It’s risky – you’ll get hit by RV mirrors! Traffic on Hwy 190 is constant. At least most of it has been repaved, but still – NO shoulder. Scotty’s Castle road repaving done and lovely, but skinny shoulder, if at all. The road down to Badwater is a little bit better- has sort of a shoulder having just been widened down to Badwater, but not beyond. RIDE SINGLE FILE ALWAYS!!   **New – You can rent bikes at Furnace Creek Ranch!  24 speed mountain bikes, many sizes, $10/hr, $34/1/2 day.   ** NEW LAW    Vehicles must remain 3 ft. away from anyone on a bicycle on the road!

MOUNTAIN BIKES – Ah ha, yes, you can ride on any of the dirt roads (but not trails) – see http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/bikingandmtbiking.htm for ideas. Much better idea – not as much traffic at all on these. Plenty of challenges with soft sand and washboards – definitely not for skinny tire bikes… No bikes (or dogs) of any kind on trails or in the Wilderness. 

Dogs are allowed in campgrounds but always on a leash – and remember that coyotes regularly patrol the campgrounds day and night looking for dinner, little furry dinner. Several little dogs have disappeared… Dogs are NOT allowed on trails at all. You could walk him on a leash along the roads, but yikes. They’re really not allowed much of anywhere – sorry! Not in motel rooms either. Not a good idea to leave pooch in the car while you go hiking – gets way too hot even in winter. Greenhouse is greenhouse. In other words, DV is not really “dog friendly”. Sorry…. best to leave him home…True in ALL National Parks…not pet friendly at all. 🙁    Has to do with both protecting the wildlife and your dog- too many quick and foxy critters hunt day and night for furry dinners.  (coyotes, eagles, all manner of carnivores in all parks)

The area code for Death Valley numbers is 760 and for nearby Nevada numbers is 775.

The Park’s number is 760 786-3200 Yes, it’s automated- but you can talk to a real person if you hit “0” during “regular business hours”. Emergency Help is always 911.

By all means DO check the Park daily weather and road report here, or by phone before you go anywhere!! and you can talk to a REAL person at 760 786-3200 (touch 0) 8 a.m.-4ish weekdays. There is no one at the Com Center on weekends.

Entrance Fees are $25 per car. Pay at Stovepipe, Grapevine, or Visitor Center, or at any one of the “Iron Ranger” machines in several locations. Get a America the Beautiful Pass, ($80) good for ALL National Parks and Monuments, USFS, BLM, etc.. Get it on-line, or at the Park where DV gets to keep a good portion of the $$.

Visitor Center at Furnace Creek is open 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. Books, maps, other great stuff for sale. Ranger to answer your questions. Great displays will be back by june. Pay your Entrance Fees here- to a real person.  There are “fee machines” at other locations in the park too(but the park doesn’t get to keep all the $$, better to pay a real ranger)  – no excuses now!

Ranger Programs- see Visitor Guide.

Concessionaire Xanterra news, golf stuff, Inn info, booking rooms, the works – etc. Summer Hours now  Click here.

Worship Services Catholic Mass – 1st and 3rd Sundays, 6:15 at FC Ranch Education Building Christian Ministries in the National Parks; Sundays 9 a.m. at Stovepipe Wells, 10:45 a.m. at the Date grove, FC.

The daily weather/road report posted at all ranger stations. Check!!!! Call!! (760) 786-3200 Especially as thunderstorms change things so fast!!

The Maturango Museum is your source for Death Valley info in Ridgecrest!

Looking for something to do on your way to Death Valley? check out  www.maturango.org/Janetstravelinfo.

of things to see in the Ridgecrest area west of DV, and of course, visit our Maturango Museum .

**Great book with pretty pictures, super useful info: “A Traveler’s Guide to Death Valley National Park” by Cliff Lawson. Maps, pictures, directions, and short blurb on all the popular 2-wheel drive attractions in Death Valley region. Well done. ” Death Valley and the Northern Mojave” Tweed, Davis, Cachuma Press – overview of popular spots to visit in both DV and Ridgecrest areas of desert. Maps, great photos! “Hiking Death Valley” by Michel Digonnet; great mining history, great maps and a complete list of hikes available Get both of these are more, of course, at the Maturango Museum 100 E. Las Flores Ave, in Ridgecrest!! Open every day (except major holidays), 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. We’re right on the main drag (China Lake Blvd.), sort of in the middle of town. 760 375-6900 We sure can answer a bunch of your DV questions and we have their Newspaper Guide and books, videos, etc.

MOVIES!! Our wonderful photographer Mark Pahuta has been busy with his digital camera and has made QuickTime movies of our art shows and the insides of the Museum. They’re big files, but download them and open with QuickTime, place the cursor to one side or the other and the panorama will start to move around. Use the + and – buttons on the player to zoom in and out. These are way cool high tech stuff that your ‘puter does so well!!

Our Natural History Display area and Children’s Corner , the exhibit part of our Museum. (file size 400K) Our fantastic Museum Store, Gift Shop. Unique stuff, lots of petroglyph stuff. (file size 964K) The current art show is on our art web page, and other great stuff…

Got questions that need a real live person’s opinion? – after reading all this?? 🙂

Little ole Webmistress Janet can answer some questions if you don’t find it here somewhere. I live in Ridgecrest, 2 hrs and 2 valleys west of DV, but I can see Telescope Peak from my computer. Try various Chat Boards to see if there are any current road reports: Death Valley Talk   Death-Valley.net 

Annual Events

  1. 1.Death Valley 49ers Encampment at Furnace Creek and The Inn. (and the entire valley floor), usually second weekend in November, the link has the schedule of events.
    2.Holiday Festivities at Furnace Creek December 22-31.

    3.Webpage from Xanterra Resort folk with lots of Annual Events, golf things, special packages, summer rates, etc. 4.Furnace Creek Invitational Golf  Tournament – January

    see above web page for other golf things

If you only have one day from Ridgecrest or Las Vegas

Death Valley is HUGE. There is so much to see! You’ll have to pick and choose and remember that sights are very far apart in this desert! Good luck!! Come back when you have more time… but even a one day trip is enough to give you an idea of the immensity and grandeur of this desert! Be sure to stop at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. It’s 2.5 hrs. from Ridgecrest to the Visitor Center, and 2.3 hours from Las Vegas. Start early, stay late!! (and come back!!)

If you have at least 2 days…

Start at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center and get maps and information about the sites and then choose. You might do things in the north end of the valley one day and in the south end of the valley another. Remember that Scotty’s Castle tours are given on the hour and are limited to only 19 people on each tour, so if you want to see the castle, you will have to devote the better part of a day to that adventure, but now you can reserve tour times on-line!  It’s well worth it!!

Good luck!! Plan to come back again and again! This amazing place is always different and there are millions of acres to explore!!

Other stuff

 Mountain Bikes: are allowed on all paved and open dirt roads and the bike path near the Furnace Creek Visitor Center – goes from there to the campground and to Harmony Borax Works. Bikes of any kind are not allowed off roads, on trails, or in the wilderness areas or on CLOSED roads. Titus works on a Mountain Bike.

Horseback: Horse use is allowed except in developed campgrounds or paved roads; not on Telescope Peak trail. Take your own water and feed.  There are a few horses at the stables for guided rides.

Campfires are prohibited, except in fire pits in developed campgrounds. Gathering wood is not permitted, (heck, there isn’t any! ) and burning of wood, either dead or alive, is not allowed in the backcountry. Use a camping stove.

Pack out all garbage – don’t bury it. It’s too dry here for anything to decay. DO bury human waste at least 6 inches deep or more.

Don’t even think about feeding the cute coyotes and kit foxes and kangaroo rats that will wander up and look at you with sorrowful eyes. It’s prohibited and it’s definitely not good for the animals. They have plenty of natural foods! Goes also for ravens and roadrunners. Don’t feed the wildlife!!! Several pesky coyotes have had to be shot because they just wouldn’t stay away from people because they learned that people feed cute critters. Don’t cause the death of these wonderful animals. Shoo them away!! And keep your pets INSIDE AT NIGHT! Keep an eye on your pet even during the daytime – Coyotes don’t have watches and are out at all  hours. Coyotes prowl the campgrounds and RV’s looking for a furry dinner or food left out of any kind. (NOT people- they don’t eat people!!).

Pets are permitted in developed areas and on park roads. They must be leashed and restrained at all times. Pets are not allowed off roads, on trails, or in the wilderness areas of the Park. Be a friend to your pet and leave him home – he can’t go with you most places, and you can’t leave him in the car, it will get too hot! If you put him outside, Coyotes will eat him. Think about it…

Weapons are allowed, but WHY bring them? You can’t use them in the Park. This includes firearms, air guns, bow and arrow, slingshots. There is NO hunting, season or not, in this National Park.

Private Property – there is quite a bit within the park boundaries. If you see a sign, respect it! There are patent mining claims in the park which are private.

This is a National Park. You may examine but NOT remove any historic artifact, rock, plant, or animal. The use of metal detectors is NOT allowed. Leave the stuff for others to enjoy!!

Water – some of it is salty, some of it is fresh. Suspect girardia and don’t drink any water that you haven’t treated unless it comes gushing out of a spring in the rocks- and there ARE many springs! Carry enough water when you hike. There are about 300 springs in the park – it’s far from a dry barren place, but it’s also a big park and springs are hidden in canyons usually. Don’t count on there being water – springs come and go. Birds, big horn sheep, burros, and all the other critters depend upon these springs… that’s why you aren’t supposed to camp near them. Share, and be considerate.

Wildlife. LOTS of it! Though most animals are active at night in the summer. (no wonder!) Many hibernate or migrate away in the winter. Take an evening walk on the sand dunes! You’ll hear coyotes howl around Furnace Creek and Stovepipe. They won’t bother you IF you don’t try to feed them! People are not on their list of things to eat, just fingers. Coyotes are everywhere, especially around the campgrounds. Their favorite food, easier to catch than bunnies, are little dogs tied by RV’s. Keep your pets INSIDE at all times! Coyotes are active day and night and they hear little yipping from far away!! Spiders – yup- Tarantulas are all over, but in the fall – October- the males migrate looking for ‘the girls’ one last time before winter hibernation. If you see one, watch it, wonder, but don’t disturb him…they won’t hurt you!

Birds all over the place, but especially around springs, of course. LOTS of birds – and they are mostly diurnal. Owls in the trees at the Ranch. (The ONLY trees are at the ranch!- more or less) Great birding on the golf course! Wild horses- no. Wild burros – well… aren’t supposed to be – they keep trying to round them up because they aren’t native and they cause enormous damage around the springs, but… you’ll still see droppings in more remote areas.

Snakes? Of course, they live here! Will they bother you? – not if you don’t bother them. They hibernate when it gets cold at night (like below 45). They hate heat, so in the summer they come out at night. If it’s nice weather for humans, it’s nice weather for snakes. Poisonous snakes in DV are FAT with big head, nonpoisonous snakes are skinny, skinny head. Plenty of both.

Earthquakes. Interesting topic. How do you think Death Valley got here!! It’s a huge down-drop valley with huge faults on both sides. Little faults all over the place. Volcanic rocks indicate faults and the stuff is everywhere! Will there be one when you’re here? Probably not- at least not a big one. BUT – the quakes and aftershocks near Joshua Tree/Landers/Baker are sometimes felt here. No problem – it’s a good ride! No rocks come tumbling down or anything like that, usually. There aren’t many buildings, and they’re all low – no problems there. There’s nothing much here to hurt! Enjoy the ride!

Flash Floods – yes. !! Any time of year when it decides to dump in one spot for even 5 minutes can make a flood of water dash downhill.  Are you downhill from that big black cloud?  Get OUT of the wash.  Is water crossing your road? Wait for it to go down – running water can carry enormous loads – like vehicles – with it.  Don’t do it.  Sorta like running into a train….

Want a 4×4 experience?  See Backcountry Road info page; rent a Farabee Jeep! – they’ve moved to by the Gas Station.  Go on a Pink Jeep tour.

————————————

To continue: does anyone live there? yup – Rangers, Concessionaire people, and their families. All year most of um! Does anyone die there? Yup, sometimes. The 49ers (who named the valley) didn’t, but their animals did. A few miners did. A few tourists who think they can hike without water do. But it’s not necessary any more. Just be careful!!

The desert is awesome – all of it. (all of them, around the world! each is unique) And it isn’t all “SAND”. This park is particularly awesome – that’s why it was made a Monument in 1933 and a park in 1994. Your first thoughts are “barren – ugh” – but take a close look. The only places where there are NO plants are out on the dry lake playas and on the tops of the sand dunes. There are plants everywhere else, even if they’re little and not very green most of the year. Where there are plants, there are animals, though they hide when the weather isn’t nice (which is a lot!- too hot, too cold, too windy) There are even some animals out on those playas! Check the sand dunes in the morning and see who had parties last night – lizards, mice, bugs! Then take a BIG look. Where else can you see so much geology all in one place!! Death Valley is over 11,300 feet deep at Badwater. Panamint Valley is 9000 feet deep. Saline Valley is 9000 feet deep. WOW! Visit the sand dunes in Eureka Valley – they’re the tallest in California. Don’t let the name scare you. Let it teach you a lesson about deserts. It’s awesome.

Active Death Valley Chat Board great place to find out road conditions on the remote roads, ask questions of frequent visitors who know the park.

See Maturango Museum Home Page Have you seen our Museum Home Page? We’re a small but mighty fine Natural History Museum in beautiful downtown Ridgecrest, CA. Open daily 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.; lots of books for sale, lots of Tourist info, great displays. Check us out!!! 100 E. Las Flores Ave, Ridgecrest, CA 93555 (760) 375-6900 You gotta come past us on your way from Los Angeles to Death Valley anyway, and you can detour to visit us if you’re not exactly headed that way – maybe you should be?? 🙂

Other Internet Information:  This is not to endorse the info, just stuff I found Googling around….

The following are other sites on the World Wide Web which feature information about Death Valley. These links do not provide access back to this page or to the Maturango Museum Home page, but you can get back to us using the “back” command in most web browsers.

Death Valley Natural History Association pages – News of DV events, Scoty’s Castle organ concerts, etc. etc. Check often!!

Lots of you may be interested in a trip to Cerro Gordo, a private in-tact mining town up above Owens Lake, scene of incredible silver and lead mining, some still active. Road best in 4×4 (darn steep and rocky),  The website says the town is CLOSED to visitors at this time;  might open in summer, but it’s snowy and cold up there.  see web page! 760-876-5030 

A comprehensive page about Fossils in Death Valley, Also links to Fossils in Red Rock Canyon State Park. Great geology stuff, nice photos of all things fossil, and lots of DV photos. a huge reference source!

Parks Geology neat stuff about DV geology, lots of pictures, etc.

A whole page full of amazing links from the folks at Mono Lake Committee

Tons of info about all sorts of places to visit from Sierra Web folk Driving Hwy 395? Here’s tons of info about the towns, sights, etc.  See also my Hwy 395 info on the Museum’s page.

Panamint Springs Resort, over in Panamint Valley, west of Death Valley proper, but in the Park, has a neat home page with lots of suggestions on things to go see;

Desert USA is an on-line magazine with tourist into about parks and neat places to see and do in CA, AZ, CO, NV, NM, TX, UT! Check out their Death Valley info page Lots of nice stuff, info, pictures, maps

Exploring in an RV, and it’ll do for the rest of us too. Great links to other National Parks, Monuments, National Forests in the U.S. RVn 4 Fun

Have your own rig but need a guide to DV backcountry? or want to hike – here’s a commercial way to do that – http://www.deathvalleybackcountrysafaris.com/

Death Valley National Park home page through GORP is good, links to other parks and lots of interesting places

keep hitting that “search” button!!

All comments entirely mine…. send updates and mail to Janet Westbrook updated as posted

Road Info

Road Info – what are the paved roads like?  It’s a moving target!!  

Is it safe?

What roads are closed??

GPS can be dead wrong!.

Janet Westbrook, Professor of Biology, emeritus,  Naturalist;

updated 4/2/17

Death Valley Road Conditions

The valley and mountains have been having lots of thunderstorms = flash floods  – so road info on the dirt roads is hard to come by.  now snow happens, sometimes as low as 4000 ft. They don’t have many rangers to go out on patrol.  If in doubt, call um.  The main road, CAL 190,  should show up on CalTrans reports, or again, call um – 760 786-3200

Scotty’s Castle was the other area of the park most severely affected by October’s storms. A contract to connect a temporary waterline from the spring to the historic structures’ fire suppression system is in progress. Southern California Edison has replaced power poles and repairs of the electrical distribution system at Scotty’s Castle should start soon. There is still a lot more work to be done, including redesigning and reconstructing 8 miles of road, replacing portions of the sewer system, permanent water line replacement, and repairs to multiple historic structures. Water entered the annex wing of Scotty’s Castle and two other historic structures again during a storm on April 27, highlighting the need for repairs. Park officials hope to have Scotty’s Castle fully repaired and reopened by 2019.

Every morning brings new road conditions – CHECK BEFORE YOU GO!!

Here is the latest on the road conditions 
The Death Valley Road beyond the Eureka Dunes Road open, watch for washouts. 
 a direct number in Independence for Inyo County Road conditions: 1 760 878-0202.

https://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/conditions.htm

 The MORNING REPORT!!! NOT posted on the web any more.  Is generated and FAXed to some outlets.  Call the park.

Even better– Death Valley has made a Facebook Page which they and others update.  Best/only resource for current road conditions!!  See https://www.facebook.com/DeathValleyRoadConditions

and – a map that shows where camping is allowed and not, shows backroads, etc.  good resource! http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/upload/Backcountry-Roads-Map.pdf  Now within 1 mile of roads, not 2.

Panamint Valley Road (Trona to Hwy 190) is OPEN!! and PAVED. .(but not lower Wildrose- its seriously washed out again! and dangerous!) DO NOT CROSS FLOWING WATER.  Wait for it to go away – it will.  Flowing water can wash your car away too!!  

Sierra Passes  all CLOSED DUE TO SNOW FOR THE WINTER!   record snows in the High Sierra – yeah! like 200%, so passes will be very slow to open this year.  Expect Tioga to remain closed until at least July. !!  Sonora will open before Tioga.
see Cal Trans Road info.

Can you get to DV without getting into snow??  Sure – from the EAST side – take 127 out of Baker, enter via Shoshone/Badwater road, or DV Junction, or Scotty’s Junction/Bonnie Clare roads.

Thunderstorms   happen, so the road report is a real mess, changes constantly.    The park has only a couple of road graders and they’ll eventually get to all of these, so check back if you intend to go play on anything other than paved roads….Think Farabee’s Jeep rental… every day a different part of the park gets hit!  This was an unusually wet summer for our area!
SNOW HAPPENS!!  Townes Pass was closed for a while until CalTrans could get to it.  There’s 10″ at the charcoal kilns,  Dante’s View is iced in – can drive only to the trailer parking area.  Titus is closed.  It’s winter- yeah!!

See below for more road comments….

Did you get a brand new GPS for Christmas or your birthday?? Turn it off here!! They’re GREAT in cities, but sometimes/usually they don’t know much about wild places, especially simple ones like TomTom. City maps OK, rural maps not so much. They don’t know which roads are closed in winter by snow. They don’t know which roads are now closed for one reason or another. They don’t know which roads may be rocky or 4×4 needed. They’re not real good about road info in Death Valley at all! Get a park map! Turn off the GPS until you head for home. They don’t tell you to drive into snow drifts or deep sand until you get stuck…. USE SOME COMMON SENSE WHEN FOLLOWING YOUR GPS. !! Some ladies went to visit Scotty’s Castle and after 400 miles of aimless driving, wound up in Saline Valley because their GPS didn’t have any of the dirt roads on it. DON’T use GPS for road info in Death Valley!!!!!! It’s fine for marking where you are, but maps aren’t any good!! “recalculating”?? not out here!
and GPS can’t know which roads are closed by snow!!   I keep hearing scary stories about GPS leading folks where they didn’t want to go!  TURN IT OFF.   It’s not good with dirt roads either.  2 folks have died this summer down on the Harry Wade Road – deep sand.  GPS doesn’t know about deep sand! 

  Watch the weather reports carefully – if headed for Saline Valley, check weather and road reports!   Steele works but is serious 4×4.

PLEASE BE CAREFUL where you go!! The weather can change in an instant and get very cold and windy up high, even in summer! Hail, thunderstorms, lightning have been happening. Watch out!!

Be sensible! Don’t get stuck. If it looks bad ahead, turn around while you still can. It’ll be there when you come back. DON’T CROSS RUNNING WATER!! DON’T GET STUCK IN SNOW!!!! road or trail. It’s bigger than you are! If you get stuck, STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE!! It’s fairly easy to spot a vehicle from the air, but almost impossible to spot a person. Tell someone, anyone, where you are going and when you expect to be back – !!

 CURRENT ROAD CONDITIONS per NPS.3/20/17 (notes are mine- )  Remember, you can always rent a Farbee’s Jeep. Thunderstorms can happen at any minute and change all this!    Fares will also know about backcountry roads from reports from their renters… 
Aguereberry Point –  high clearance.
Artist’s Drive – OPEN, brand new pavement
Badwater Road – OPEN to Harry Wade Road OPEN to Shoshone.
Big Pine Road /Death Valley Road=  recently fixed, but watch for washout dips;    it’s paved to Eureka Valley; 10 miles of dirt down to the dunes,  75 miles total to Ubehebe, 130 miles to gas at Stovepipe Wells.  OPEN to through traffic!
Bonnie Clare RoadHwy 267 to Scotty’s Castle from NV- CLOSED, WASHED OUT until at least summer 2019
 Charcoal Kilns -Emigrant Road – OPEN to Mahogany Flat!! and graded.
Cottonwood/Marble Canyons OPEN TO THE MOUTH.  graded up the fan but serious 4×4, high-clearance in the canyons!  Wonderful petroglyphs, but you can hike to them from the top of the fan.
Dante’s View Road –  wonderful views! Best in morning light;  No RV’s or trailers beyond the parking lot so designated – steep and tight turns.  Can be VERY windy up there!!   SNOW – wait till it melts off the road
Devil’s Golf Course -OPEN– great views from the center of the valley!  amazing at night.
Echo Canyon – open, 4×4 due to soft places
Emigrant Canyon roadOPEN! Emigrant Station to Wildrose Station to the Charcoal Kilns.
Eureka Valley to Sand Dunes – washes across road, recently graded!   Do not go beyond campground either direction without 4×4, serious deep sands!!
Green water Valley Road  OPEN,  to   Shoshone; 
Harry Wade Roa-OPEN.  Watch the Amargosa river crossing! VERY SOFT SANDS!!  4×4 best
Hunter Mountain Road – open, but still mud and ice at the spring.   4×4 necessary due to ice and snow!;  narrow in places, muddy spring on outside camber, snow not removed!
Keane Wonder Mine Road – CLOSED until further notice; road and mining area closed to all entry due to safety hazards.
Lippencott Saline to Racetrack – OPEN, but Racetrack road to Ubehebe Crater VERY ROUGH.   this is a NARROW twisty steep road.  very narrow!!!!! no duties, short bed best.  4×4 best, good tires a must!!
Mosaic Canyon -OPEN, road quite rough washboard for city cars, take it easy.
Mustard Canyon Road -OPENcontinue past the wagons at Harmony Borax into yellow Sulfur hills. fun thing.
Panamint Valley Road OPEN Trona to Hwy 190, open and paved all the way. 
Racetrack Valley Road -OPEN BUT VERY ROUGH!!  watch for washouts and rocks = washboardrocky– and heavy-duty tires recommended; Playa is damp) but DO NOT walk on muddy places and leave footprints.  This road EATS tires!  Have a “real” spare, not a donut! Best 4×4 and/or high clearance.  (think Farabee jeep)  It’s a tires issue.
Saline Valley Road North Pass –  mostly OK, still some ruts. . Bat road still washy at the beginning, but has been human-dragged farther up the hill.     See http://forum.salinepreservation.org/ Saline Valley Road (South Pass) – “OPEN!!” washboard bad   Have 2 spares!!
Saline Valley Road bottom –  Just so ya know… Airing down and using 4×4 helps some, but it’s still hard on suspensions!   Speed causes washboards! Saline – Chicken Strip – ? probably has deep ruts across it like Bat Road?   for careful pilots used to rough uphill landings, tail-dragger best. No reports on whether it’s been helped or not – fly over it first! Saline Valley Bat Road to the Warm Springs road, still some deep dips and loose sand, near beginning, take it easy.
Scotty’s Castle Road -CLOSED at Ubehebe intersection, the CASTLE IS CLOSED and closed to NV.  No through traffic  till 2019.
Steele Pass Road –DIFFICULTbefore Steel Pass and down to the springs; washed out again badly;  Dedecker Canyon-it’s usual narrow self at steps, 4×4 and high clearance and spotter always needed.  But there are HUGE washouts on both sides of the pass and it’s rocky but there are tracks to follow.   See http://forum.salinepreservation.org/?forum=162656
Skidoo?    can be rough as in washboard.  Watch for ice, it’s high up there!
Titus Canyon Road -OPEN-  CALL!!  till the next rain  rough!;  “use caution”, but that always applies! High clearance a must, front wheel drive at least;   but not good for “city” car tires or flatland drivers!!.  Not for timid drivers – road hangs on side of hills, with one difficult up and two difficult down stretches! Deep gravel at the end.   You can rent a Farabee Jeep!  (though jeep not necessary, just clearance and good tires- but still need to not be a timid driver!)
Twenty Mule Team Canyon Road –open – a lovely drive through colorful Colemanite mud hills! One way eastward, no washboards.  The road washed out completely
Ubehebe Crater Road -OPEN, Ubehebe Crater new parking area; no bathroom, but nice walls. Always windy up there.
West Side Road -OPEN.  Now access to side canyons, can exit from Striped Butte Valley, recently graded (= sharp rocks now but lots of  washboard)
Warm Springs Canyon off West Side Road -open – take it easy! graded first 2 miles, then high clearance or 4×4 to Geo cabin
Mengle Pass really took a beating – 4×4, lockers, lifters, etc.  and good luck; walk it first. It’s really, REALLY BAD!  Even worse than before after the storms – on the west side of the pass.  Will have SNOW now
Goler – steps filled in – 2wd to Barker Ranch from Panamint Valley!  (but the ranch house burned, only rock walls left)
Wildrose /Emigrant Canyon Road – OPEN  -OK to Charcoal Kilns.  gate locked.    Telescope Peak is snow-covered down to below the kilns!, big cornice on last ridge. Snow in places on the trail.    it freezes every night.  7 + 2 mile hike X2,no water along the way, will be cold and windy!
Lower Wildrose CLOSED TO THROUGH TRAFFIC   don’t event think about trying to sneak through!! … here’s the scoop – Inyo County’s part of the road is a real mess!!  Inyo Co. is finally working on it – STAY OUT!!   CHP and Rangers do give $700 tickets – be warned.  
Father Crowley Point is open. Go enjoy the rejuvenated overlook! even a new bathroom!! Nice railing gets you safely able to look down into Rainbow Canyon
Darwin Falls Road – rough due to washouts, etc.  high clearance needed, rocky to parking place. Hiking trail to Darwin Falls -not all trail! some scrambling.  Your feet will get wet!

Mesquite Campground is OPEN!  Cooler than the Valley and great place to camp in summer;  might be warmer than Furnace creek in winter as cold air sinks down to there.  .Emigrant now closed, snow!

DV DOESN’T REPORT ON THESE ROADS, but there are comments on the chat boards. 

Panamint Valley 4×4 roads – the Panamint Valley road is OPEN and paved.
The high roads will be SNOWED IN. 

Pleasant, etc. – need 4×4 to get to the cabins. ROAD Closed at Chicken Rock to any large vehicles,, but BLM has a plan to replace the bridge with a retaining wall!  Looking for help.  OK for quads and bikes- too skinny and dangerous.   The Bridge has a load limit and vehicles 50” or less.  In any case, no Hummers up there! So you can’t do a loop in anything big. Surprise Canyon;  high clearance to the end at Wicht’s Camp. Trail –  the waterfall is pretty much across the whole canyon, so wading IS necessary!  the waterfall near the beginning is a real hazard!  Panamint City – 6 mile hike. You will get your feet wet scrambling up the several slippery waterfalls.  Plenty of water at the 2 springs, but not so much at P City South park – rough, but open;  may be damaged; Pleasant – rough, very rough, but open;  may be damaged;

Goler Wash –OPEN and now nice to Barker.    Mengle Pass absolutely needs 4×4, high clearance, lockers, and spotters.  It’s serious!!  It got hit on the bad corner just before the pass!! Remember that Barker Ranch burned in 09;  no traces of MansonMengle Pass is a “rock crawl” – seriously big boulders and seriously deep holes.  Definitely 4×4 and very high clearance.  And with the Westside road closed, you have to come back out Goler!  

Panamint Valley – OPEN   Watch for burros, especially near slate range. Indian Ranch Road has been graded from Ballarat to Indian Ranch.

Hwy 136 – Lone Pine to Hwy 190 intersection (past Keeler) -OPEN.

THUNDERSTORMS AND SNOW  CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME!! With budget cuts, roads aren’t going to get graded very often, so they’re pretty washboardy! When they do get graded, it brings up the sharp rocks, so you still need to be careful!!

Racetrack is wet again, for now!! – DO NOT walk out if it’s wet to take photos of the rocks because you will leave tracks in the mud, especially where you fall down! Don’t take the rocks!!!!! you think they’re going to keep moving in your yard? geezz!  Look at this photo.  Those tracks will set in the mud and be there forever. and they will stop the further movement of that rock.  Don’t be STUPID!  Stay off!   These tracks will be there forever! 🙁

GASP!! IS IT SAFE TO DRIVE THROUGH DEATH VALLEY IN THE SUMMER? Sure – just be ready. Be sure your vehicle is in good condition (like the hoses, a/c, etc.) Rental vehicles are usually new, so they should be OK! Be sure the radiator is working well, full, etc. Check engine oil levels as that can also affect how hot the car runs!! SLOW DOWN GOING UPHILL. Be sure YOU are in good condition. Be sure you have LOTS OF WATER both to drink and to spray all over you. (yes, spray – get one of those fan-sprayer thingies, or any ole sprayer, and use it as you drive through!!!!). Don’t forget to put some salt in you along with the water – you lose both when you sweat. Chips or any salty snack work. If something happens to you or the vehicle – STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE!! It provides shade. Try 911 on cell phone, even if you don’t have regular cell service – but for emergencies it seems to work!! If your phone has GPS, turn it ON. However, the place is far from abandoned – someone will come along sooner or later and help you!! Just DON’T even think about walking anywhere for help. You won’t make it. Stay put at your vehicle or wherever and make help signals which can be seen from the air. !!!! Summer 2005- 2 folk DIED from the heat – they were out hiking in 115F sun, ran out of water, died. !! STAY IN THE SHADE AND WAIT. BE sure someone knows where you are going.!! Make sure your location can be seen from the air. Summer 2004 – 2 folks died in Flash Floods! if it’s raining, head for HIGH ground and stay there until the water goes away! As the speed of the water squares, the load it can carry cubes; i.e. a river going from 1 mph to 2 mph can now carry 8 times the load!! Your vehicle hasn’t got a chance, nor have you. Get to HIGH ground (you can see past flood lines in all the washes!) and STAY there! the lady that survived this past flood was stranded for 40 minutes, then it went away. Actually, same cautions apply in winter. Stay with your vehicle and stay warm. Heard of “hypothermia”? It can kill you if you try to walk out. Stuck in the snow? Make signals and STAY PUT – someone will find you, especially if you left word where you were going! Note: if your car is overheating, slow down, turn off the A/C obviously, and turn on the heater – yes, the HEAT – it’ll help cool the cooling fluids.

So how steep are the hills? What are the roads like??

Hwy 190 from Lone Pine/Olancha to Stovepipe goes over 2 major hills;

1) steep drop past Darwin City, from Father Crowley point down into Darwin wash drops 600 ft in 1.6 miles = 7.1% grade; is twisty with sharp corners besides, total drop is 2280 feet, 4.7% grade. Very hard on RV’s, going up or down!

2) Panamint Valley to Townes Pass climbs 2800 ft in 7.2 miles, all nice constant radius turns, but relentless 7.6% grade with one section of 9.3%. At least it’s not narrow and twisty, but still very hard on RV’s, going up or down.

Townes Pass down to Emigrant Station drops 2800 feet in 7.5 miles, 7% grade, with dips and a few sharp corners near the top. RV’s or trailers over 25 ft. not allowed because of the tight turns and narrow road just above Wildrose.

If you’re pulling a trailer or driving an RV with a wimpy engine, think twice about going this way – it’s a lot easier on your vehicle to go around to Baker and come in the east side. It’s longer, but your brakes and engine will be happier!! See maps.

PLEASE REMEMBER TO GEAR DOWN WHEN GOING DOWN, ESPECIALLY WITH AUTOMATIC TRANSMISSION VEHICLES!!. See that “L,” or “1, 2” on the gear shift below “D? “You paid for um, USE um!!!! If you’re always having to use the brakes, you’re not in a low enough gear. Your brakes won’t last for all three of these hills!! You can easily build up speeds that your brakes won’t handle!

Watch your temperature gauge going up those hills, especially RV’s!! If it’s approaching RED, slow down!! Gear down. Turn off the A/C!!! Try turning on the HEAT – yes, heat – it’ll help cool the cooling fluids. If that doesn’t work, STOP. If you stop to let the car cool off at some of the lovely overlooks, leave the engine running and the car pointed into the wind so the radiator can cool the fluids. Spray water on the radiator – but don’t take that cap off!! Be sure you have enough water in the vehicle for both you (1 gal per person per day) and your car!(3+ gal more)!  New modern (rental) vehicles shouldn’t have an issue with A/C or the hills except in mid-summer, but keep an eye on the temp gauge anyway.

You can avoid the Darwin/Panamint hill deal by going through Ridgecrest but there’s still the Townes Pass hills.

From the east – Hwy 190 from Death Valley Junction is 3000 feet, but fairly even 3.2% grade in and out. This is the easiest way in and out of the valley for RV’s and trailers- get there from Baker or from Beatty 95 road to 363 to DV Junct.  NO HILLS this way! 

Also on the east – Daylight Pass to Beatty – 4.7% on east side, 6.3% on west side of pass but a bit twisty.

Jubilee and Salsberry Passes from Shoshone – 5.5% and 4.9% and wiggly and dippy and skinny road but resurfaced in 2007.

DRIVE CAREFULLY!! These roads are mostly just paved wagon roads – there are dips, sharp corners, and the roads within the park haven’t been upgraded since Model T days – i.e. curves aren’t always banked properly, turns aren’t constant radius except on upgraded Townes Pass west, and they’re skinnier than you’re used to. Follow posted speed signs – they MEAN it!! And yes, the park roads are patrolled by California Highway Patrol. USE LOWER GEARS GOING DOWN ALL HILLS. “D” for automatic cars works fine in flat places, but not climbing up and down these mountains! Stay alert!! Motor vehicle accidents cause way more injuries and deaths in Death Valley than the elements!!

See “Backcountry Roads” for info about the many popular dirt roads in DV region.

Thunderstorms happen and close roads quickly.  Now it can snow at any time!  Clear down to Townes pass!!

Scotty's Castle
Death Valley Ranch (otherwise known as “Scotty’s Castle”) even if it wasn’t his… a most interesting story!! as is Scotty….
October 19, 2015 –  MUD!!!  The castle got hit by a severe rain storm and mud flowed down onto the Castle grounds – first time ever since 1923!  There’s 3-4 ft. of mud in the courtyard by the old garage/motel/restroom area, mud has almost filled the swimming pool, and mud lots of other places on the grounds.  The newly reconstructed road to the Castle has been cut 5-8 ft. deep in several places and will take a while to fix.  so CLOSED –  the grounds will remain CLOSED until 2019!!!  Much infrastructure needs fixing, and major road repairs needed to prevent this from happening again!   No tours, no nothing.  SORRY!!  Very sorry!!
The grounds and Castle all closed, and closed beyond the castle. 
5/5/16 report from DVNHA
Scotty’s Castle was the other area of the park most severely affected by October’s storms. A contract to connect a temporary waterline from the spring to the historic structures’ fire suppression system is in progress. Southern California Edison has replaced power poles and repairs of the electrical distribution system at Scotty’s Castle should start soon. There is still a lot more work to be done, including redesigning and reconstructing 8 miles of road, replacing portions of the sewer system, permanent water line replacement, and repairs to multiple historic structures. Water entered the annex wing of Scotty’s Castle and two other historic structures again during a storm on April 27, highlighting the need for repairs. Park officials hope to have Scotty’s Castle fully repaired and reopened by 2019.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *

So who was this Death Valley Scotty person?  Who is Albert Johnson?  What effect did Bessie have on the house?  Why isn’t the pool finished?  What’s a Pelton Wheel?  How did Johnson heat water? Learn all this interesting bits of history as you take the tour!  It’s amazing, and fun!

Wondering about Scotty’s Castle? View this short show about the castle and listed to the wonderful organ music – then head on up there! 2 Tours available, plus Lower Vine Ranch (Scotty’s real home) tours Jan – April;  (more photos scattered on Pretty Places in DV photo page)

Scotty’s Castle is a highlight and delight to visit but alas, not until probably 2019,

It is an hour north of Furnace Creek, and at 3000 feet in Grapevine Canyon, and is a pleasant temperature any time of the year! 50 minute tours of this Spanish style home built in the late 1920’s by Albert Johnson are given from 10:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. every day of the year. Tours are limited to 19 people each. Tours are 50 minutes and cost $15 for adults, ($7.50 if you have a yearly Access Pass) $7.50 for kids and $7.50 for seniors with Golden Age/Access Passports. There is an stair-climber lift available for those who can’t do stairs- ask ahead of time! Rangers dress in period costumes, and your guide may even look like Death Valley Scotty himself!!

Living History Tour

• 50-60 minutes

• Daily, year-round

• mid-April through October, tours are hourly 10-3

• November through mid-April, tours are offered more frequently. First tour at 10:00am and last tour at 3:00pm.

• Each tour is limited to 19 persons.

• Reservations are only accepted for groups of 15 or more.

• A wheelchair lift can be used to assist one person per tour

Park rangers dressed in 1930s living history costumes answer questions about Scotty and the Johnsons as they lead visitors through Scotty’s Castle. The tour visits opulently furnished rooms with intricate iron-work and carved wood features, colorful tiles, and custom-designed furniture. Nearly everything on display is original to the Castle, including the clothing hanging in the closets. Hear a song played automatically on the original 1,121-pipe theater organ.

Underground Tours-  60 minutes Daily: November through mid-April •11:20, 1:10, 2;40 • Each tour is limited to 15 persons.

• Reservations only accepted for groups of 15 or more.

• Not ADA accessible, several sections of stairs.

• Ask about a combination price if also taking a house tour.

This tour travels through the basement, power generating facility, and the walking-sized tunnels that connect buildings underground. Stacks of tiles hint at the Johnsons’ unrealized plans for more construction at Scotty’s Castle. The tour focuses on topics such as the 1920s construction techniques and advanced technology. Many things at Scotty’s Castle were powered by hydroelectric power, even though Death Valley only receives an average of two inches of rain per year.

Combined tours – do both the upstairs history tour and the downstairs basement “underground” tours if timing is right – combined tour prices are $25 adults, (12.50 with pass)  $12.50 seniors and Golden Age/Access, $12.50 for kids.  Kids under 6 free, but not really recommended for them.  I suggest doing the upstairs tour first – so that when you go into the basement you’ll understand what’s above you…. the basement is amazing!!

Lower Vine Ranch Tour

• 21⁄2 hours

• 2-mile round-trip hike

• Mid-January through early April

• Wednesdays at 2:00, Saturdays at 10:00 and 2:00

• Each tour limited to 15 persons.

• Reservations strongly encouraged. Call 760-786-2392 ext. 0.

• Not ADA accessible, involves walking on uneven surfaces.

A visit to Lower Vine Ranch reveals the more private side of the famous Death Valley Scotty. Lower Vine was Scotty’s true home for over twenty years. Much simpler than Scotty’s Castle, the cabin at Lower Vine never had electricity and has only three rooms. Other features at the site include the garage, blacksmith shed, grain shed, mule corral, spring, and the outdoor bathtub. Lower Vine Ranch is closed to all public access except for these ranger-guided hikes.

Adults $20 ($10 with pass) Seniors $10 with pass, Youth $10.

Self guided walking trails around the grounds and canyons, wonderful grassy lawn for picnics, Museum and bookstore, Snack bar, but NO Gasoline. The grounds are open from 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call them at 760-786-2392.

The Cook House has been restored and is open for visits!  Displays, castle info, etc.  Imagine the cooking that went on here for all the Castle guests. There’s an underground tunnel from here to the Castle kitchen!!

This place is NOT like Hearst CastleIt is NOT a castle at all! This is a Spanish/Moorish style home, not a museum, albeit a rather fancy, but comfortable, home. The guy that built it had lots of money and good architects. And it didn’t ever belong to Scotty, though he had a room there! His ranch is on the other side of the hill. It’s well worth seeing! = Lower vine tour.

See DV’s page about Scotty’s Castle .

Grounds open 8 a.m.-4 p.m in winder, way less in summer.  Visitor Center open 9:45 – 4:30 – where you buy tickets if you didn’t reserve them ahead of time.  The gas station is CLOSED and gone.  VC has -snacks (sandwiches, chips, no grill), gift shop, etc. Open every day! Enjoy a picnic on the nice lawn under the trees, wade in the warm fresh water creeklet, hike Tie Canyon… From January to April, Wed and Sat, they give “Lower Vine Ranch Tours”, where Scotty really lived. reservation required – see under Scotty’s Castle info above.

NO GAS at Scotty’s Castle, ever again. -Plan ahead!!- especially if you’re thinking Racetrack and into Saline or out to Big Pine and Eureka Valley. Fill up at Stovepipe! Olancha has gas.

Is it a tourist trap??  NO NO NO!  It’s a lovely Spanish-style home in a lovely location about as far away from anything else as you can get!  See why the Johnsons and Scotty loved the Death Valley Ranch so much!!

Campground Information

Campgrounds in Death Valley area are in their “winter” mode now, meaning most campgrounds are open, higher ones subject to snow closure.  Reservations now required for Furnace Creek CG – www.recreation.gov, or 1-877-444-6777.  Site map available on line, CG has just undergone refurbishing – bathrooms good, new sites, new numbers.  New fee – $22/night, 14 night limit.

RV hookups available at Stovepipe Wells through the motel, $33.30/night; .  and at the Ranch, also $33/night,  and at Panamint Springs.  Panamint Springs now has “tent cabins” for rent, $35/50 for 2 cots, $50/65 for 4 cots, $10 if you need sleeping bag stuff.  Contact them.  Much info on the nps.gov/deva web site!!

Camping Reservation info Reservation system – USFS, NPS, BLM sites all done under same system now,  recreation.gov, 1-(877) 444-6777 7a.m. to 7 p.m. PST, and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. PDT (March-Oct). It’s a “6 month rolling calendar” system.  No reservations needed for summer camping at Furnace Creek CG. .

National Park campground reservation system is easy on-line; they will accept reservations for Furnace Creek Campground for October through April.(only CG reservable in DV) for the next 6 months on a “rolling calendar system”, ie. from the last date of your reservation request. 1 877/444-6777 or http://recreation.gov Yosemite is 1-877-444-6777 and same URL, starting on 15th of each month. National Forest and Recreation campgrounds may be reserved at National Recreation Reservation Service 8 months in advance, 1 877 444-6777, 7-7 p.m. PST at http://recreation.gov California State Parks may be viewed at Reserve America and camp sites reserved 7 months ahead at 1 800 444-7275 between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. PST http://www.ReserveAmerica.com

Campground Information:

  1. Furnace Creek -196 ft. 127 sites; (38 sites reserved for tents only, walk-in) $18 per site during winter season, $12 summer. Most have some shade under Mesquite trees, all have tables and raised charcoal grills. 19 RV hookups (extra $12) (but there is a dump station near the entrance now), but “hard sides” definitely welcome in “regular” sites. Reservations required during camping season Oct. 15 through April 15, these sites are reservable up to 5 months ahead  recreation.gov   2 Group Sites available as well, $25.  (Educational Groups can also ask for a “fee waiver” of entrance fees, but you pay camping fees). Open all summer usually, only $12, first-come basis. Showers available at the Ranch pool complex.    19 RV hookup sites $30. (new!)

  2. Texas Spring-  sea level 92 sites, some with a few Mesquites for shade; $14 per site, Texas Springs is restricted to mostly tents from March 17 to April 18. No generators at all.  Showers at the Furnace Creek Ranch pool complex – check in at the Motel’s registration desk. The spring is flowing again, so there are little creeks on both sides of the otherwise barren campground, but no generators, no “city lights” up here. CLOSED IN SUMMER

  3. Watch carefully where you put your tent! – Not a good idea to use Texas Springs CG in the rain  or high winds- it turns into a quagmire. Rivers also run in the tent area at Stovepipe- look around and choose high ground!  When it rains, it pours!

  4. Sunset- -190 ft. Oct-Apr huge flat “parking lot” area, $12 per night. Can hold zillions of “hard sides.” Periodic toilets, but no tables.  It’s just a parking lot.   Generator hours 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Dump available  

  5. Stovepipe Wells – sea level; . . 200 sites, $12 per night. There are 25 walk-in tent sites in the sand at the north end of the campground. The rest is “just parking lot”.  Generator hours 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. There are 16 RV sites, $33.30 per night with hookups, first-come, first-served, but register through Stovepipe Wells Motel. Showers at the Stovepipe Motel across the street – check in at registration desk.  There is now cell reception… 

  6. Emigrant 2100 ft. (just uphill of the restroom) 10 sites, free; no fires, tents only.  May be closed due to water issue = no restroom..

  7. Mesquite Spring 1800 ft. all year 30 sites, $12 per night. Nice place, individual sites with tables. Sorta in a wash area. No shade in camps. Open all summer, a bit cooler than in the valley.  OPEN!

  8. Wildrose 4100 ft. all year (usually- does get snow in winter) 30 sites,, no shade; tables; free; spring water when it’s not frozen. Parking lot type area. (actually, the old maintenance area) Downright cold in winter, and might get isolated by snow storms – watch out!

  9. Thorndike 7500 ft. CLOSED – SNOW. May-Nov (snow permitting) 8 sites, free; NO WATER. road was open, but it keeps snowing!

  10. Mahogany Flat 8200 ft.CLOSED – SNOW  May-Nov (snow permitting) 10 sites, free NO WATER. road open, but it keeps snowing!!

  11. Eureka Sand Dunes 3000 ft. cement picnic tables, pit toilet; check road! NO water, no shade, no neighbors.

    **RV hookups and dumps – at Furnace Creek Ranch, Xanterra, $37;- dump, at Stovepipe Wells $33, at Panamint Springs $30, and at Furnace Creek Campground, $30.

   12 •Panamint Springs Resort – (1700 ft) shaded tent and RV camping, some with hookups, showers even! across the street from the Restaurant,  Tables in some spots. Now little cabins and yurts.  Register at the gas station.  Horse area

**Primitive camping IS allowed in the back country off the dirt roads- but stop by the Visitor Center or Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station to obtain a free Backcountry Permit. Get map and info at DV official page You must be 2 miles beyond developed areas, maintained roads, or day use areas and must be more than 200 yards from any water source. No camping on Titus Canyon Rd, West Side Rd, Wildrose Rd, Skidoo Rd, Aguereberry Pt Rd, first 8 miles of Cottonwood Canyon Rd, Racetrack Road from Teakettle Junction to Homestake Camp, nor at any historic site like Inyo Mine, Lost Burro Mine, Ubehebe Lead Mine, nor on the valley floor from Ashford Mill to 2 miles north of Stovepipe Wells. Does this leave any place for backcountry camping? TONS!! See the list of 4×4 roads! Overnight group size 15 people and no more than 6 vehicles. If you have a large group and want advice on where to camp and a special use permit, contact the Chief Ranger at 760-786-3200.

  1. Ask the Rangers for the current regulations about minimum impact camping.

Camping? Stinky?? SHOWERS are available at both Stovepipe Wells Motel and Furnace Creek Ranch pools – but pay ($5) and check in at the Motel’s registration desk and get directions (and soap) to the shower facilities…. also gives you access to their lovely warm spring-fed pools! Panamint Springs resort also has nice showers in the campground for a fee.

Backcountry Camping – see above just after the list of developed campgrounds. Yes, you can camp in the backcountry, with certain provisions. Click here for the NPS map of backcountry roads and where you can camp. Get one at the VC. Please get a Backcountry Permit before you go from the Rangers. Death Valley does not have maintained trails (except the ones listed above) or established backcountry campgrounds. There is a pretty complete set of 7.5 minute topo maps for sale at the visitor center. Don’t go wandering off without one!! See DV page info

Think about where you’re walking and where you’re camping. Pick surfaces that aren’t easily disturbed so that there will be no trace that you were ever there. Walking in the water of the canyons disturbs the stream itself. Don’t make more trails – spread out and “leave no trace”.

“The more popular backcountry use becomes, the more important backcountry ethics become.” Take care of this wonderful place!! Enjoy!!!

Off-road Driving: is PROHIBITED. The desert environment is extremely fragile and it takes very long for it to recover from vehicle damage. There are plenty of fun roads to explore – one up just about every canyon. Stay on established roads and don’t be tempted to wander off into the wild desert.

Panamint Valley is mostly BLM land and primitive camping is allowed there too.  Have a fire permit.

Amargosa Opera House

Death Valley Junction and the Amargosa Opera House and Amargosa Hotel,

call before you go – 760 852-4441 for status of hotel, cafe, etc.   The Amargosa River sometimes runs  right through town and over Stateliness road, closing it when it rains!   It’s open even in summer, just a bit warm.

Marta died Jan, 2017.  See much info here –  https://www.facebook.com/amargosaoperahouseandhotel/?hc_ref=NEWSFEED

Looks like there will be programs this fall and winter, 2016-17, but check the web page and CALL, since Marta died..

http://www.amargosa-opera-house.com/schedule.htm

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amargosa-Opera-House/319131878759

Marta was retired from doing shows to concentrate on her painting.  Her last show was February 12, 2012.  Info here – http://www.amargosa-opera-house.com/schedule.htm   Marta injured her back several years ago and she can no longer get up “on point” -and she’s 91.  She says she’ll be there to work on painting and giving tours…. but her health is pretty frail.   the end of a most astonishing 45 year career??  Alas, Marta died this fall.

  Several rooms (some painted by Marta) are available in the hotel,  Sign says Tours of Opera House given, but no data- ask at the Hotel desk.    Her book and several videos of her past performances are on sale at the Hotel and on-line.  Her website has a bunch of great photos!! The Hotel is open all year. Call 760 852-4111 or book on-line for reservations.  Prices start at $65/night and can be done on-line.  Looks like they’re renting 16 rooms.  Marta has painted each room differently. A most unique experience!!  See http://www.amargosa-opera-house.com/index.htm Call over there for updates.

    The Hotel/Opera House was built 1923-1925 by the Pacific Coast Borax Company as part of a company town along the railroad.  It had the company offices, store, dorm, 23 hotel rooms, dining room, etc.  A recreation hall at the NE end of the complex was used as a community center for dances, church services, movies, funerals, and meetings.  Marta found it in 1967, and decided to stay and put on a dance show for….. would anyone come??  Not many did at first, so she started painting an audience on the walls of the big hall – and kept painting and painting.  She has painted most of the hotel rooms in a different theme.   The place is now rather famous and the crowds DO come – so be sure to make a reservation if you want to see a show. Marta is a trained ballerina and danced at the Radio City Music Hall and on Broadway.  She’s a talented artist, but also a most inventive seamstress – she creates her own costumes and completely organizes each show.  It was a joy to see her dance “on point” when she could- she started all this in 1968- and finished in 2012. The Opera House at Death Valley Junction is 30 minutes from Furnace Creek area.

You could stay at the Longstreet Hotel and Casino, just 7 miles up the road…They have a restaurant, B, L, D.

Commercial Tours, jeep rentals

Commercial Tours of DV

Want to go on the backroads?  Now you can go with professional drivers in a “pink jeep”, or rent your own 4×4 in DV. See below! No need to rent jeeps in Vegas – come to DV in your standard car, see the “tourist sights” which are all on good roads, and then if you have time, rent a jeep or a ride to go elsewhere.  http://www.farabeesjeeprentals.com; however – remember the wisdom – 4×4 is for getting you through rough spots; if you get stuck in 4×4, you’re REALLY stuck! Don’t do something that doesn’t look like you can get out of it! STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.   Farabees now does DV tours.  See their webpage.

Another commercial outfit that will give you a day tour of DV from Las Vegas in a “pink jeep”, or if you click on “Death Valley- in park” will pick you up at your motel in the park and take you to the Racetrack or Titus Canyon (when open) in their pink sturdy vehicles. Pink Jeep tours http://pinkjeeptours.com/las-vegas/tour/death-valley-national-park-ca/ They also do a lot of other parks in the SW. Ain’t cheap, but it’s one way to do this…

Pink Jeep Tours offers off-road trips to the Racetrack Playa and Ubehebe Crater ($165 per person for six hours), the Charcoal Kilns, Aguereberry Point and Mosaic Canyon ($129 for four hours) and Titus Canyon ($119, three hours). Reservations must be booked online at http://www.pinkjeep.com or (888) 900-4480.  Pink Jeep also conducts other off-road Death Valley tours to the Charcoal Kilns, Aguereberry Point and Mosaic Canyon, as well as Titus Canyon.  Check current rates and whether the places you want to go are open or closed due to snow or washouts – happens on a regular basis!   CLOSED IN SUMMER.

http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-deathvalley-20100321,1,1793530.story

other Commercial Tours from Las Vegas  Both of these Van tour outfits visit a couple of places in DV- but not the dunes, not Scotty’s Castle, not Badwater… so check what they do visit and see if it’s what you want, or should you rent your own vehicle and drive over.  The Pink Jeeps know the valley well, and have regular tours – see above.

See http://www.actiontours.com/ATV_final/death-valley-tours-death-valley.html don’t know anything about these folks other than what’s on their web page, but it is a way to get to DV from Las Vegas if you don’t want to drive yourself. They use vans. Several other tour locations as well – Valley of Fire is a very special place too! 11 hr. tour $189, kids $95. 888 288-5200

Another One, http://www.alllasvegastours.com/Body.asp?tour=LAS-O0013&page=TourDetails&pref=01&aid=lty1027 also van tour, about same price, 11 hrs. Check their website.

And a private person,  Jim Mattern, will take you just about anywhere in the desert in his 4×4 rig- Joshua Tree, DV, etc.  See http://deathvalleyjim.com

Rent and drive your own Jeep Rubicon in DV!! (but closed in the summer)  Farabee Jeep Rentals actually lets you rent a 2 door or 4 door automatic Jeep Colorado or Rubicon to drive yourself on some of the backcountry roads!! Takes $$ and be 25 yrs. old, but WOW. They’re  doing well, expanding their fleet of jeeps – but be sure to look at the website and maybe call um. They’re located between the Visitor Center and the Gas Station  on Hwy 190. http://www.deathvalleyjeeprentals.com/index.html A reservation will be absolutely necessary as they don’t have too many vehicles to rent out! They’ll know if Titus and Racetrack are open…   CLOSED IN THE SUMMER.

Farabee’s Jeep Rentals in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, (760) 786-9872, http://www.deathvalleyjeeprentals.com. Rates are $175 and $195 for a 24-hour period for a two- or four-door Jeep

Farabee’s  Jeeps come with automatic transmission, air conditioning, 3.8-liter V6 engine and a 2-inch suspension lift. More than enough, he says, to tackle the Racetrack and the narrows of Titus Canyon, the road to the Eureka Sand Dunes and the mines of Warm Spring Canyon, and the Needle’s Eye arch in Echo Canyon.

A complimentary satellite tracker can signal for help when things go wrong. The “Help” button generates an e-mail with latitude and longitude coordinates, which Farabee will use to dispatch assistance. For more serious emergencies (“They’ve got to be bleeding a lot”), pressing “911” will initiate a response from park rangers.

Rental cars, SUV’s, etc. cuz you flew to Las Vegas or LA or….

Rental vehicles: Do you need an SUV to explore DV? No, absolutely not, IF you are only staying on the paved roads and a few short graded dirt roads! Rental vehicles are new cars with working A/C, new belts and hoses, etc. You shouldn’t have any of the troubles described above….. Check the tires – do they look sturdy enough?? Is there a spare? Is it a donut? arg!! So, for ordinary visits to the park, you should rent a vehicle that gets good mileage and holds you and all your stuff. Stock up on water and nibbles. Check the rental agreement – most companies don’t want you driving on ANY dirt roads – and to get to some of the special places in DV, it’ll be necessary to go on up to 3 miles of dirt roads – but they are all graded and if you drive reasonably, you’ll be fine. Note: this means you should NOT consider taking a rental vehicle to The Racetrack, or to Saline Valley!!  You don’t need to – rent one from Farabees!

Renting a SUV to explore back roads: Best – rent in DV Farabee Jeeps– they’re at the Gas Station now. (new!) And they have proper tires and you may drive them on the dirt roads!! Elsewhere- 1) they’re hard to get – Las Vegas seems to have some (can you take it to CA??) 2) Check that they really have 4×4 – i.e. is there a front differential and appropriate gear shifts inside?? Often there is not!! 3) Check the rental agreement – do they allow you to drive on dirt roads???? I know, it’s silly to rent a 4×4 and then not let you drive on dirt, but that’s what most companies do!! 4) Be sure it has good tires and a “real” spare, not a donut, and ALL the necessary tools to change said tire!!!! Be sure you know where they are, and how to release the spare. 5) Do your driving skills match the vehicle?? Serious off-road driving is a bit different than graded dirt roads or Interstates… obviously! Don’t get in over your head. One rule of having a 4×4 vehicle is to not use the 4×4 until you get stuck in 2×4, then let the 4×4 get you out of trouble. If you get stuck in 4×4, you’re pretty darn stuck!! Remember that your cell phone won’t be able to call AAA, and anyway, they’re a LONG way off and VERY expensive, to say nothing of damage to the vehicle! 4×4 does not make up for lack of skill or common sense. 🙂 Cell phones might work for calling 911….. especially if they’re the newer kind with GPS capability. Turn it on!!   Just rent a Farabee Jeep!

How to get to Death Valley from several directions

11/4/15   the Panamint Valley Road- Trona to Hwy 190 is OPEN!! but there’s still 1.7 mi of gravel; 40 mph Lower Wildrose – Panamint Valley to Wildrose – still CLOSED.  Severely washed out again.   Access via Emigrant Canyon

So can you even get to DV??  Yes, so far going through Ridgecrest and Trona on 178 or from Olancha on 190 still works.  From Las Vegas, check on 95 through Beatty .   160/Pahrump/Bell Vista road is open to Death Valley Junction.  Also take 95 to Amargosa Valley Farm Road to DV Junction and come in that way, but the Amargosa River is running across several roads, like Stateline.

Keep checking on road conditions – they change nightly with each storm!!

The bottom of Death Valley is only two hours from Ridgecrest, CA ! The Park is open all year and Fall, Winter, and Spring are all ideal months to visit the valley bottom while there are cooler places up higher for summer visits. The Maturango Museum is also the home of the Death Valley Tourist Center and has some guide books and maps of Death Valley and the Park’s Visitor Guide Newspaper which has all the hours of operation of facilities, campground lists, accommodations, maps, and everything else necessary to plan your visit to the Park.  Let us help you plan your trip!! Open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 100 E. Las Flores Ave, at China Lake Blvd., about in the center of the main drag. (760) 375-6900

Town, Towne, Townes’, Towne’s or what?? – It’s TOWNES. Hardly any map nor the sign at the pass has the name of the major pass spelled correctly, but according to LeRoy and Jean Johnson, Death Valley Historians of note, the pass was named for Pachal Townes, a member of the 49er group – so the proper, correct spelling should be Townes Pass. So now YOU know…

Travel Information- to get there from Ridgecrest-

The fastest way to reach Death Valley from Southern California is to come to Ridgecrest, stop by the Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave, (in the center of town, sorta) to get your information and books, and continue through Trona on Highway 178 east. North of Searles Lake Valley when you reach the top of the Slate Range Pass, be sure to pause a moment to enjoy a spectacular view north to the Panamint Valley and Telescope Peak, the high point of the Panamint Mountains on the east side of this valley. You will be able to see Telescope Peak from many angles as you travel.

Ten miles after you pass the road east to Ballarat, an interesting “ghost town,” you will have the choice to go on to Death Valley either of two ways normally, but Wildrose is closed at this time. They both are the same distance and take about the same amount of time, but Townes Pass is all paved and an easier drive. You must go this way if you are a HUGE rig…Turn left at the signed junction and head for Highway 190. When you reach the T intersection at Hwy 190, turn east (right), pass Panamint Lake and head up the steep pull to the pass at 4956 ft. Watch the temperature gauge of your vehicle, especially if you are pulling a trailer or driving a large motor home. There are several pullouts to let things cool down – brakes on your way down, for example…Then you sail down steeply into Death Valley (use low gears!!). If you need water or gas or something to eat, Panamint Springs resort is a couple of miles west of this intersection.

The lower Wildrose Road is CLOSED, badly washed out and may be some time before it opens again.  But you can access the upper part from Emigrant Canyon and then follow these directions:

If you have time, from emigrant Junction, go up the Emigrant Canyon Road to the Wildrose Junct.  Turn left.  The pavement ends, but the gravel road takes you to a row of 10 charcoal kilns which provided charcoal for the lead and silver mines back across the Panamint Valley. They are in good shape and fun to photograph. The road is open this far most of the year, snow permitting. Thorndike Camp is just above the kilns. Beyond here, the road gets rough and steep. High clearance and FWD highly recommended. It is a steep mile to Mahogany Flat and the small campground at 8100 ft. This is the beginning of the seven mile trail up Telescope Peak. This hike is a riot of colorful flowers in June and July. It is a great place to see desert big horn sheep and Mule deer. The view in all directions from the 11,049 ft. peak is as spectacular as the name implies. There are bristlecone pines on the trail near the peak. No water along the trail.

The road up Emigrant Canyon is the old stage and freight wagon road. It wiggles around sharp curves. Imagine trying to manage a 20 mule team! All you could to hear were the lead mule’s bells. You had to trust her! Then more wiggles up to Nemo Pass at 5500 ft. Harrisburg Flats. If you have time, take the side road out to Pete Aguereberry’s Eureka mine (yes, you may explore it and his house), and to Aguereberry Point, a spectacular view of the middle of Death Valley! A bit farther north, a dirt road takes off for nine miles to the town site of Skidoo, and if you venture a bit farther west, you’ll find the dilapidated ten stamp mill.  Fun exploring.

The Emigrant road winds into Emigrant Canyon and some more interesting geology – great fault displays-, a modernish (1950’s) gold mine, and new road repairs for an attempt to keep the stream from taking the road out so often…

Townes Pass (Hwy 190)- at the 2000 ft. level is Emigrant Station, the only shade for miles around, with water and a restroom in the little building on the west side of the road. The ranger station is long closed, but there is a pay phone there! (cuz there’s no cell service) Ranger Stan Jones wrote “Ghost Riders in the Sky” sitting on the porch of the Emigrant Ranger Station, looking over that expanse of Death Valley below him, and wild storm clouds above. It’s six miles downhill to sea level at Stovepipe Wells village. Without many long stops, you can reach Stovepipe in two hours from Ridgecrest, about 100 miles.

To get there from other than Ridgecrest:

We’d love to have you come through our town and stop at our Museum on your way to or from Death Valley. Perhaps your trip can be a loop using one of these other ways to get there too…

From the north – from Highway 395 in Lone Pine, first stop at the Interagency Visitor Center (open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) located just south of the Lone Pine Airport at the intersection with Highway 136. The Visitor Center has maps and books about Death Valley and helpful people who can answer your questions about road and weather conditions, facilities, etc. Continue east on Highway 136 around the east side of Owens Lake and the town of Keeler, to where it meets Highway 190, and continue straight ahead on Highway 190 over the hump at Darwin, down steeply to the Panamint Valley through the throat of a volcano!! – and up (through the other side of the volcano!) and over Townes Pass to Death Valley. Two major up/down passes. Take it easy!! Darwin/Panamint is actually steeper and wigglier by far than Townes Pass!! If you don’t like this idea, go to Ridgecrest and come on in via Trona on Hwy 178 – then you only have to deal with Townes Pass. Or go around to Baker to avoid passes entirely. San Francisco to Death Valley via Tioga Pass and Hwy 395 = 550 miles; via I-5 and Bakersfield, Ridgecrest = 524 miles and several hours shorter.

From the south, LA basin area – take Interstate 15 north to Highway 127 at Baker. Gas up in Baker, also food and motels. Then head north on Hwy 127.  Shoshone has gas (Charles Brown General Store, Lotto tickets, etc.) 760-852-4242, food (Red Buggy Cafe and Crowbar Lounge 760-852-9908, ), a cute little museum (760-852-4414), and Park info (760-852-4308) and tons of info from Death Valley Chamber of Commerce 760 852-4524. Stop by China Ranch and buy dates!

OR Take Hwy 14 or 395 to Ridgecrest!  see below.  Avoids traffic on Int 15.

At Shoshone you may take Hwy 178 west and come in over spectacular Salisbury and Jubilee Pass (when it’s not raining – this always closes!) through Badwater and get views of the entire valley as you come- but it’s wiggly and fairly narrow and slower,

or continue north on 127 to the Amargosa area. From Death Valley Junction the road is milder and if you’re hauling a trailer from LA, this is definitely a better way to go – you can avoid any really steep passes (Except Cajon- and it’s not all that steep).  If you have a BIG RV or a long wide 5th wheel, go to Death Valley Junction and take the Hwy 190 down to Furnace Creek – that road is in good shape and is wider… Los Angeles to Death Valley via Baker (or Lone Pine) is 310 miles; via Ridgecrest and Trona, 285 miles.

From LAX, you can buck the Vegas traffic on Hwy 15 and escape to 395 to Red Mountain to Trona Cutoff to Trona, to Panamint Valley. OR you can come on into Ridgecrest, only 1/2 hr. beyond Red Mountain.   Unless you’re driving something huge, don’t go to Baker – way farther, and way more Las Vegas traffic!

OR – you can take 405 north to 14 to Ridgecrest, stay the night, and get a fresh start to Trona and Panamint Valley.

The least best way from LAX would be to go I-15 to Baker and north on 127. That’s a LONG drive and horrid traffic. If you’re headed our way from LA area, the FASTEST way to Death Valley is through Ridgecrest, then Hwy 178 through beautiful downtown Trona and into Panamint Valley.  Turn left at the sign and go on up to Hwy 190. It takes an hour longer to get to DV if you decide to keep on going up Hwy 395 to Olancha and across 190, and even longer if you continue on to Lone Pine. Pretty, but the fastest, most efficient way to DV is through Ridgecrest. 🙂

From the east – from Tonopah. Hwy 95 through Nevada to Beatty (info at the Museum), and take Hwy 374 west to the Sand Dunes, or from Hwy 95 take Hwy 267 west to Scotty’s Castle.

**If you’re coming from Las Vegas – don’t even consider going via I-15 and Baker!- that’s the LONG way!

It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to get to the Valley from Las Vegas and there are several roads which work. Have fun exploring!! You have 2 choices; if you’re on the Strip or north of it, *Take Hwy 95 from LV to Beatty, then come to the valley via 374. When you get to the fork downhill from Daylight Pass – if you want to go to Furnace Creek, head left: if you want to go to Scotty’s Castle, continue straight down Mud Canyon. 140 miles to FC.  Through Beatty, then Hwy 374 into the park. = 140 miles. Allow 3 hrs.

OR – if you’re coming from McCarren – the quickest way is Hwy 160, Blue Diamond, through Pahrump (head south on I-15); West on Hwy 160, nice drive up and over the hill to Pahrump Valley.  At Pahrump go through on main road all the way through town and then some 3 miles more!, then watch for signs for left turn to Bell Vista Rd, (brown sign, DVNP, and a huge Cell Phone tower) and DV via Ash Meadows. (Don’t take the first DV sign you see in town – that’s Hwy 178 to Shoshone- much longer) Bell Vista Rd takes you through Ash Meadows and right to DV Junction at the Opera House. Turn right one block, then left to Hwy 190. Boom, you’re there. 2.25 hrs., 120 mi. to Furnace Creek Visitor Center if all goes well. For variety, go to DV one way, return to LV the other. 🙂

Another route out of Vegas and Pahrump is via Hwy 178 to Shoshone and in Hwy 178 via Badwater. 153 miles, 3.5 hrs. Bottom Line- Hwy 160/Pahrump/Belle Vista Rd/Ash Meadows/DV Junct is fastest

If you’re driving an RV from Vegas, head out on Hwy 95 toward Beatty.  Pass Mercury, etc.  When you get to the Amargosa Valley, watch for Hwy 363 at the Area 51/Brothel/Fort/Rest Area junction – turn west and go to Death Valley Junction;  turn right into the Park – takes you right to Furnace Creek.  NO HILLS.  Best way if driving RV or pulling a heavy trailer.

Or, if you like adventure and dirt roads, come in the north end off Hwy 395 via Big Pine, Hwy 168 toward Westgard Pass, but turn southeast at the base of the hill and take the paved road through Eureka Valley and be sure to visit the beautiful Eureka sand dunes!! They are the tallest in California. 10 mile dirt road south to the dunes. Primitive camping there in a small campground (toilet, no water). The main road is paved, sorta, to the mine on the top of the hill. It’s dirt, graded sometimes, from the mine east of Eureka on down into the north end of Death Valley near Ubehebe Crater and Scotty’s Castle. Do call the Ranger station to see if this part is OK. It’s 75 miles betweenBig Pine and Scotty’s.  NO GAS AT SCOTTY’S CASTLE.  So it’s another 50 miles to gas at Stovepipe! If you are into 4×4 travel, go out the south west end through Goler Wash and Warm Springs Valley.

See “backcountry roads” section.

Sometimes it takes 4×4 , always at least an SUV type with strong tires, to do Saline Valley, now a part of the Park. Visit the very inviting, clothing-optional warm springs but check with Rangers and the Road Info page about road conditions first! They change with every storm… Sometimes BOTH roads close due to washouts or snow. Never is just a plain ole passenger car a good idea – the roads are often NOT good. Tons of washboard. Both passes are rough when they’re good, not for a “citified” car- clearance is an issue.  Plan accordingly! -you might be there longer than you thought. No facilities (well, there is a toilet, open-air shower)- bring all food, water, and etc. with you. Primitive camping at the springs, or just about anywhere. It’s the middle of nowhere- a VERY DEEP beautiful (if you’re a geologist) valley. See more above under “roads.”

Backcountry Roads in DV

See these links and get up to date info, especially Facebook Death Valley Road Conditions.  Ask at Farabee Jeep- they’ll have reports!

Road conditions and closures as of 3/20/17

Road Advisories:
• Scotty’s Castle Road: Open from CA-190 to Ubehebe Road. Closed to the Castle (Bonnie Claire) and NV-95.
• Lower Wildrose Road: Closed between Wildrose Campground and Panamint Valley. Emigrant Canyon Road is open with some debris on the road. 
• Upper Wildrose Road: snow melted for now at Charcoal Kilns.  Closed beyond the Kilns.
• Titus Canyon: OPEN, recently graded
• Dante’s View: OPEN
Other Closures:
none right now….

Road Outside Death Valley:
• Sierra Passes – CA120 (Tioga Pass), CA108 (Sonora Pass), CA4 (Ebbetts Pass), CA 89 (Monitor Pass) are all CLOSED.

BE SURE TO TELL SOMEONE WHERE YOU’RE GOING AND WHEN YOU EXPECT TO BE BACK!!!

Don’t want to take your vehicle on these roads – Racetrack and Titus?  Rent a Farabee’s Jeep.  New, Jeep Rubicons, with backcountry tires, well equipped.  The are now located between the Visitor Center and the Gas Station (no longer at the Inn).

20 Mule Team in DV

Bobby Tanner of Bishop brought his 20 black mules to DV, and  Rio Tinto brought their REAL Borax wagons to DV.  Great show!!         Nov. 3-4, 2012; grand reopening of refurbished Visitor Center, etc.

they’re off!

start here  working pairs

start here- takes 2 large horse trailers to haul 20 mules and stuff;  they’re loaded in working pairs

rig in pairs   it takes a committee

and they get rigged in working pairs- takes a committee!

interesting hitch  wheeler mules

interesting hitch , hand-made tack;      the last pair are the “wheel mules” – mules, not horses!

  almost there   can we go now?

can we go now?   It takes at least an hour to hitch up 20 miles!!

20 mules!   brake men in wagons

20 mules!   finally, and a wagon with 2 drivers – the back man runs the brakes, such as they are

  
  real Borax wagons from Boron, Rio Tinto Minerals
                                                    real Borax wagons from Boron, Rio Tinto Minerals
  
   
at Harmony Borax   return from Harmony
at Harmony Borax works – this is where the wagons were loaded, then went 160 miles in 10 days to Mojave!
on airport road   pulling the chain out

on airport road turning a sharp corner – have to pull the chains out

how come we stopped?   on Hwy 190

how come we stopped?

on Hwy 190   turning corner by VC

on Hwy 190 going up to Harmony Borax Works, then coming back to the Visitor Center

Winter Photos, DV with snow!
Alabama Hills and Mt. Whitney   Snowy Sierra Nevada

Alabama Hills and Mt. Whitney and farther north, Mt.Williamson

Panamint Valley, sand dunes, Indian Hill   Marble Mountains, Panamint Valley

Panamint Valley, sand dunes, Indian Hill and Marble Mountains with Panamint Lake North

Lake Manly, DV   sunset on Lake Manly Lake Manly, DV  If it rains enough, the salt flats get covered with water; 2005, the lake is back!
Badwater, Telescope Pk  Telescope Pk in Lake Manly

Badwater, Telescope Pk, 11,049 ft

Eureka Sand Dunes, Last Chance Range   low winter light on dunes

Eureka Sand Dunes, 800 ft tall! Last Chance Range;   Mesquite Sand Dunes, low winter light

Joshua Trees   road to Saline Valley, North Pass

Joshua Trees on the Eureka Valley road which goes over North Pass, 8200 ft.

Telescope from Ashford Mill

Telescope from Ashford Mill

rubber ducky   goes swimming in Lake Manly

rubber ducky enjoys a swim in Lake Manly;  people also used kayaks to paddle around  2005

Amargosa River flows into DV   Lake Manly - kayakable

Amargosa River flows into DV from north of Beatty, through Amargosa Canyon and

Lake Manly   Lake Manly

Lake Manly forms.  Several miles wide, knee deep; 2005 and 1998 when we had good rains

 Telescope Pk<br />Badwater ponds   Telescope Pk<br />Badwater ponds

Telescope Pk reflected in the permanent ponds at Badwater; need morning light

Telescope Pk in clouds <br />from Panamint Valley   Panamint Valley Lake

Panamint Valley –  Telescope Pk in clouds                                            Panamint dry lake north

Spring Wildflowers
Mr Ranger, where are the flowers???    Flowers happen when 1) it rains enough 2) the rains come at the right time 3) the weather is warm enough.    They don’t happen every year.  Sometimes, 2005, they are fabulous!!   The seeds can sit and wait – they’ve adapted to feast or famine when it comes to water.
Spring 2016. SUPERBLOOM!!  El Nino and winter storms have dropped water about every 2 weeks and the flowers are already out!! It’s already as good as 2005, so we’re looking at maybe the show of the century this spring!!  Desert Gold was solid down below Badwater to Ashford mill already and showing signs of being great all over the valley. !!  Get over there!!!!!!!!
see http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/ca_dv.html  for updates in DV and other parks.
2017 –  POOH.  Not enough rain hit the valley!!  less than .5″.  So – no flower shows at all except maybe in the far, far south end.
Go south – Amboy Crater, Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree NP, Anza Borrego State Park.  but not DV.  alas.
Panamint Daisy<br />(rare) Wildrose Canyon  Velcro bush, Mala Mujer  Mojave Aster

Panamint Daisy   (rare) Wildrose Canyon    Velcro bush, Mala Mujer                     Mojave Aster

Chickory  Desert Dandelion

Chickory                                                                  Desert Dandelion                  Gravel Ghost, Tobacco Plant,   Parachute Plant

           5 Spot

                      5 Spot

Palo Verde tree  Desert Mallow  Ephedra - Mormon Tea

Palo Verde tree                                               Desert Mallow                                               Ephedra – Mormon Tea

Beaver Tail  Beaver Tail Cactus

Beaver Tail  Cactus

Cholla cactus   Cholla

    Cholla Cactus – DO NOT TOUCH!!                         but you can carefully “tickle” the stamens and make them move!

Sand Verbena   Sand Verbena

Sand Verbena makes sweet-smelling lavender mats on loose sands

Desert Holley   Paintbrush  Brown-eyed Primrose

Desert Holley, female plant with seeds;    Desert Paintbrush, root hemiparasite;    Brown-eyed Primrose

Delphinium   Joshua tree

Delphinium                                                                                   Joshua Tree in bloom (Lily family!)

 Phacelia  Phacelia  Phacelia

     Three different Phacelias
    Desert Gold
          When it rains enough at the right times, Death Valley gets covered with Desert Gold!  2005, and 1998
Could very well do this again Spring 2016!!!!

Desert Gold  Desert Gold  Desert Gold

Desert Gold

Pretty Places to Visit
    a selection of my favorite places in Death Valley
Raven   furry ears

Raven  (no crows in  DV)                                       Burros (Donkeys) from mining days

Emigrant Canyon   Emigrant Canyon fault

Emigrant Canyon  layer of ash, tuff                  purple earthquake fault

20 Mule Team road   20 Mule Team road

20 Mule Team road

Scotty’s real home<br />Lower Vine Ranch

Scotty’s real home at Lower Vine Ranch

Ubehebe Crater  Ubehebe Crater

Ubehebe Crater, the Basket     steam volcanic explosion 800? yrs ago

(sign now gone)

(sign now gone)

Old Dinah - used to haul borax

Old Dinah – used to haul borax

“brontosaurus”, a lava formation

“brontosaurus”, a lava formation

Badwater

Badwater

old volcanics

old volcanics

Desolation Canyon

Desolation Canyon

Golden Canyon   Golden Canyon  Golden Canyon

Golden Canyon

Artist’s Drive   Artist’s Drive

Artist’s Drive

Furnace Creek Inn

Furnace Creek Inn

Devil’s Golf Course   Devil’s Golf Course

Devil’s Golf Course

Ashford Mill

Ashford Mill

Crankshaft Junction

Crankshaft Junction

Scotty’s Castle  Pelton Wheel, Scotty’s Castle

Scotty’s Castle                                                     Pelton Wheel, Scotty’s Castle

tallest sand dune   sunset on dunes

tallest sand dune in the Mesquite Dunes

Kit Fox Hills

Kit Fox Hills

wall of windows, Emigrant Canyon

wall of windows, Emigrant Canyon

Artist’s Palate  Artist’s Palate

Artist’s Palate

Harmony Borax Works<br />original set of 20 mule team wagons

Harmony Borax Works    original set of 20 mule team wagons

Dante’s View, Lake Manly

Dante’s View, Lake Manly

Xanterra’s PV array

Xanterra’s PV array

sunset

sunset

lenticulars = lots of wind   the winds do blow!

lenticulars = lots of wind                                      the winds do blow!

Audubon warbler, Scotty’s Castle

Audubon warbler, Scotty’s Castle

Devil’s Hole

Devil’s Hole

pupfish, Salt Creek

pupfish, Salt Creek

pupfish

pupfish

Scotty’s Music Room  Scotty’s Castle Organ

Scotty’s Music Room                                        Scotty’s Castle Welty Theater Organ

tiles for the swimming pool

tiles for the swimming pool

busy birds

busy birds

Commercial Tours

Commercial Tours of DV

Want to go on the backroads?  Now you can go with professional drivers in a “pink jeep”, or rent your own 4×4 in DV. See below! No need to rent jeeps in Vegas – come to DV in your standard car, see the “tourist sights” which are all on good roads, and then if you have time, rent a jeep or a ride to go elsewhere.  http://www.farabeesjeeprentals.com; however – remember the wisdom – 4×4 is for getting you through rough spots; if you get stuck in 4×4, you’re REALLY stuck! Don’t do something that doesn’t look like you can get out of it! STAY WITH YOUR VEHICLE IF YOU HAVE A PROBLEM.   Farabees now does DV tours.  See their webpage.

Another commercial outfit that will give you a day tour of DV from Las Vegas in a “pink jeep”, or if you click on “Death Valley- in park” will pick you up at your motel in the park and take you to the Racetrack or Titus Canyon (when open) in their pink sturdy vehicles. Pink Jeep tours http://pinkjeeptours.com/las-vegas/tour/death-valley-national-park-ca/ They also do a lot of other parks in the SW. Ain’t cheap, but it’s one way to do this…

Pink Jeep Tours offers off-road trips to the Racetrack Playa and Ubehebe Crater ($165 per person for six hours), the Charcoal Kilns, Aguereberry Point and Mosaic Canyon ($129 for four hours) and Titus Canyon ($119, three hours). Reservations must be booked online at http://www.pinkjeep.com or (888) 900-4480.  Pink Jeep also conducts other off-road Death Valley tours to the Charcoal Kilns, Aguereberry Point and Mosaic Canyon, as well as Titus Canyon.  Check current rates and whether the places you want to go are open or closed due to snow or washouts – happens on a regular basis!   CLOSED IN SUMMER.

http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-deathvalley-20100321,1,1793530.story

other Commercial Tours from Las Vegas  Both of these Van tour outfits visit a couple of places in DV- but not the dunes, not Scotty’s Castle, not Badwater… so check what they do visit and see if it’s what you want, or should you rent your own vehicle and drive over.  The Pink Jeeps know the valley well, and have regular tours – see above.

See http://www.actiontours.com/ATV_final/death-valley-tours-death-valley.html don’t know anything about these folks other than what’s on their web page, but it is a way to get to DV from Las Vegas if you don’t want to drive yourself. They use vans. Several other tour locations as well – Valley of Fire is a very special place too! 11 hr. tour $189, kids $95. 888 288-5200

Another One, http://www.alllasvegastours.com/Body.asp?tour=LAS-O0013&page=TourDetails&pref=01&aid=lty1027 also van tour, about same price, 11 hrs. Check their website.

And a private person,  Jim Mattern, will take you just about anywhere in the desert in his 4×4 rig- Joshua Tree, DV, etc.  See http://deathvalleyjim.com

Rent and drive your own Rubicon in DV!! (but closed in the summer)  Farabee Jeep Rentals actually lets you rent a 2 door or 4 door automatic Jeep Colorado or Rubicon to drive yourself on some of the backcountry roads!! Takes $$ and be 25 yrs. old, but WOW. They’re  doing well, expanding their fleet of jeeps – but be sure to look at the website and maybe call um. They’re located at the old garage across the street from the Furnace Creek Inn, just above the Badwater turnoff, on Hwy 190. http://www.deathvalleyjeeprentals.com/index.html A reservation will be absolutely necessary as they don’t have too many vehicles to rent out! They’ll know if Titus and Racetrack are open…   CLOSED IN THE SUMMER.

Farabee’s Jeep Rentals, across from the Furnace Creek Inn in Furnace Creek, Death Valley, (760) 786-9872, http://www.deathvalleyjeeprentals.com. Rates are $175 and $195 for a 24-hour period for a two- or four-door Jeep

Farabee’s  Jeeps come with automatic transmission, air conditioning, 3.8-liter V6 engine and a 2-inch suspension lift. More than enough, he says, to tackle the Racetrack and the narrows of Titus Canyon, the road to the Eureka Sand Dunes and the mines of Warm Spring Canyon, and the Needle’s Eye arch in Echo Canyon.

A complimentary satellite tracker can signal for help when things go wrong. The “Help” button generates an e-mail with latitude and longitude coordinates, which Farabee will use to dispatch assistance. For more serious emergencies (“They’ve got to be bleeding a lot”), pressing “911” will initiate a response from park rangers.

Rental cars, SUV’s, etc. cuz you flew to Las Vegas or LA or….

Rental vehicles: Do you need an SUV to explore DV? No, absolutely not, IF you are only staying on the paved roads and a few short graded dirt roads! Rental vehicles are new cars with working A/C, new belts and hoses, etc. You shouldn’t have any of the troubles described above….. Check the tires – do they look sturdy enough?? Is there a spare? Is it a donut? arg!! So, for ordinary visits to the park, you should rent a vehicle that gets good mileage and holds you and all your stuff. Stock up on water and nibbles. Check the rental agreement – most companies don’t want you driving on ANY dirt roads – and to get to some of the special places in DV, it’ll be necessary to go on up to 3 miles of dirt roads – but they are all graded and if you drive reasonably, you’ll be fine. Note: this means you should NOT consider taking a rental street vehicle to The Racetrack, or to Saline Valley!!  You don’t need to – rent one from Farabees!

Renting a SUV to explore back roads: Best – rent in DV Farabee Jeeps– they’re at the garage opposite the Furnace Creek Inn. (new!) And they have proper tires and you may drive them on the dirt roads!! Elsewhere- 1) they’re hard to get – Las Vegas seems to have some (can you take it to CA??) 2) Check that they really have 4×4 – i.e. is there a front differential and appropriate gear shifts inside?? Often there is not!! 3) Check the rental agreement – do they allow you to drive on dirt roads???? I know, it’s silly to rent a 4×4 and then not let you drive on dirt, but that’s what most companies do!! 4) Be sure it has good tires and a “real” spare, not a donut, and ALL the necessary tools to change said tire!!!! Be sure you know where they are, and how to release the spare. 5) Do your driving skills match the vehicle?? Serious off-road driving is a bit different than graded dirt roads or Interstates… obviously! Don’t get in over your head. One rule of having a 4×4 vehicle is to not use the 4×4 until you get stuck in 2×4, then let the 4×4 get you out of trouble. If you get stuck in 4×4, you’re pretty darn stuck!! Remember that your cell phone won’t be able to call AAA, and anyway, they’re a LONG way off and VERY expensive, to say nothing of damage to the vehicle! 4×4 does not make up for lack of skill or common sense. 🙂 Cell phones might work for calling 911….. especially if they’re the newer kind with GPS capability. Turn it on!!   Just rent a Farabee Jeep!

Staying Inside - with a real bed!

Camping really not your style?  scared of snakes, scorpions, bugs, boogey men, dark nights?

Yes, it is possible to stay inside” – rooms available in the park and in adjacent cities

Rooms/Reservations: prices are very season-dependent!

Resort Concessionaire news, golf stuff, specials, Inn info, etc. Click here.

Furnace Creek Ranch and Inn Xanterra reservations 1-800-236-7916 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mountain Time (Denver)   Rates are incredibly seasonal, and are per room, 1-2 people. See their website for rates and reservations. Starts at $395.  Discounts for Seniors over 60.  You can make reservations on-line easily up to 13 months in advance (which you’ll need for special dates like Christmas and New Years – wonderful times in DV!

  1. to contact the Furnace Creek Ranch directly 760-786-2345 and FAX to 760-786-2514; 224 rooms, 3 restaurants, saloon.  Rates are on the reservation site; $179 motel rooms, “deluxe rooms are single story opening to the grassy area; 28 little (old) but nicely refreshed cabins- shower only, Queen bed, TV, WiFi.   A bit lower in the nice warm summer. Lovely natural warm spring-fed pool, golf course nearby, store, tennis, stables, etc.  Lots of grass, kids’ playground.  Backs up to the golf course.   RV  sites with full hookups- $37

  2. 120 miles from Las Vegas or Ridgecrest.

  3. The Ranch is the former Greenland Ranch, started by Harmony Borax Works in 1880’s to raise alfalfa for the 20 mule teams hauling borax.  Later it provided cheaper accommodations for tourists than the Inn.  Now the cute little cabins are employee housing and more modern motel units are available for rent.  They may have RV sites available, ask….

  4. Xanterra has installed a large Photovoltaic solar plant west and north of the pool.  Pays 1/3 of their electric bill!

  5. to contact the Furnace Creek Inn (the fancy one on the hill) directly 760-786-2361 Room rates October to May $395-495, depends on your view, plus meals- rates are very season-dependent, and sometimes they have “deals”- like Golf packages. Discounts for Seniors over 60 – see web page.   The Inn is an experience!  The rooms aren’t that special, but the grounds and ambience are.  Magnificent garden, and naturally heated spring fed swimming pool to die for – no chlorine because the water changes once a day anyway.  Lovely in the evening – watch the bats come get a drink.  Poolside bar, of course.  Just an amazing experience!

  6. OR – you could stay elsewhere and eat at the Inn – lunch isn’t formal, dinner a little more so – “no denim”…. 5  Star, elegant menu and service.  Sunday Brunch is absolutely famous – Sundays 11-2 Mid Oct – Mother’s Day.  You can’t eat it all!!  Be sure to wander the garden area and peek at the pool if you’re not staying here.  Secret – there’s a tunnelfrom the parking lot which takes you to the elevator (you want 3rd floor) or keep going and it opens out to the garden area.

  7. The Inn was built by the Borax Company and DV Railroad to attract tourists clear back in the 1920’s.  Folks came to Death Valley Junction on the train, then by wagon or limo (think those long touring cars used in Yellowstone NP) to the Inn.  The CCC boys worked on it in the 30’s.  It’s old but still an elegant lady.  Can’t beat the setting!

  1. **Calling from a Foreign Country: Reservations at 303-297-2757 and FAX to 303-297-3175.  (or book on-line)

  1. Stovepipe Wells 82 room which have undergone  major renovations you’ll love, store, warm pool.  Also books the RV sites across the street- full hookups, $32.75/night. 760-786-2387 or 888 786-2387. Cheapest patio rooms $100+; better ones $126-156+; really fancy (Color TV, refrig. etc.) $152-182+, depends on season. Central DV Valley location, quiet at night; 44 miles from Scotty’s Castle, 2.5 hrs. from Las Vegas. Near the dunes. Gas station and store across the street. Can call directly – 760 786-2387. Operated by the Ortega Family. GREAT POOL. Restaurant has a very different menu than it did before.  This complex is MUCH quieter (and way smaller) than the Ranch.  Wander out away from the few lights at night to enjoy all the stars and listen for coyotes, or watch nighthawks catch moths by the lights.  Wander farther and enjoy the silence!!  Wireless WiFi coming.  Read their webpage for more info.  They have dimmed their lighting at night so you can enjoy the stars better.  yeah!  *Dec and Jan sale – 20% off room rates. 

  1. Panamint Springs Resort (in the Panamint Valley, not Death Valley proper, but still in the Park, and an hour from Furnace Creek), 15 rooms (cabins, actually) ($80-169+) dining room; you can reserve your room on-line! and e-mail to Panamint@starband.net They also have RV sites and camping spots and showers under Tamarisk trees. $15/site; 12 RV sites, full hookups, $30, dry $15; 775-482-7680 Mail goes to P.O. Box 395, Ridgecrest, CA 93556. Roadrunner lives on the porch. !!  Definitely “rustic”, caters to 4×4 crowd more than Lexus.  Definitely remote.  They do have WiFi! No pool.

    NOT in the park, but nearby on your way to there…(and cheaper…)  Look at a map so you can see what you’re doing before you choose one of these interesting locations….

         east side of Death Valley

  1. Amargosa Hotel and Opera House, at Death Valley Junction, east of the park, 30 min. from Furnace Creek; 14 rooms, each decorated by Marta; 760-852-4441 (open all year) No gas; meals available maybe at the Lila C cafe at the hotel; open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.   Gas available at Longstreet.  Problems though… call and see what’s up….

  2. Longstreet Casino – 7 miles north of Death Valley Junction;  modern motel rooms, restaurant, 50 RV spots with hookups, , nice pool, nice grounds, and a big black & white cow in front (yes, you have to ask…).  Nice place.  Gas station across the street.    775 372-1777/ 800 508-9493 e-mail to longstreetinn@aol.com

  3. Motel 6 in Beatty. On Hwy 95 north. 775 553-9090 /800 466-8356; 70 rooms, $56+

  4. Phoenix Inn and RV park (shows as Atomic Inn)  of Beatty 800 845-7401 and 775 553-2250

  5. Stagecoach Hotel Casino in Beatty, NV 775-553-2419/ 800 424-4946; rooms $60-90., new, near Motel 6

  6. the Exchange Club closed for meals, but motel rooms available. 775 553-2333  (Burro Inn is no more)

  7. Death Valley Inn and RV park – a large,new motel & RV park complex  651 South on Hwy 95 in Beatty. (775) 553-9400

  8. El Portal MotelRt. 374, Beatty, NV 775 553-2912 Older (60’s) motel units- clean and quiet, on main street.

  9. Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, Tecopa, CA – right next to Inyo County baths; rooms, 43 RV spots, some with hookups, campground, etc. Fees for using the pools and campground now.  (no rooms, just RV)

  10. Shoshone Inn motel, kitchens, pool, laundry, HBO; 760-852-4335

  11. Shoshone Trailer Park full hookups, laundry, pool; $10-15 760-852-4569

        west side of Death Valley

  1. and of course all the motels and services in Ridgecrest, CA (2 hrs)(we have most of the chain motels and hotels, plus a lot of independent (read older) motels; and Lone Pine (2 hrs),

  1. north – Tonopah NV,

  2. south -Pahrump, Baker, Tecopa, Tecopa Hot Springs, Shoshone, etc.

  3. Here’s an interesting alternative – stay in a teepee at China Ranch – http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-tecopa-20100314,1,7668571.story   http://www.discovercynthias.com/

Whether the Weather; Seasons make a difference!

Seasons do make a   difference!       What’s the Weather??   How hot is hot?  Whada mean it’s COLD?!

   
The following is my creation - if you have corrections or updates, please get to me @ jwest0554@gmail.com<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Janet Westbrook, Professor of Biology, emeritus, Naturalist; updated 12/12/2012<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Seasons, Weather!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Weather is a most important factor when you want to explore Death Valley. Each season is different and it pays to be ready. One of the definitions of "desert" is "extremes." Death Valley isn't always hot!! FC set a cold record at 24°F. It was 27° 12/7/13.Check out weather links various places in here... 
Winter can bring snow on the passes and the roads north, west, and south might be closed for a period of time. Carry chains! Did you look at the snow pictures from winter 2000 yet?? Winter will bring freezing and below freezing temperatures to the valley bottom! It's hard to imagine that you would need a down parka in Death Valley, but a warm jacket is a most necessary item for nights in December and January. Days can be in the 70's, but nights drop to freezing! All those mountains send their cold air to the lowest point - that's where YOU are.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Spring and summer can bring sudden downpours. It doesn't rain very much in Death Valley, but when it does, it usually comes all at once. This will cause even the paved roads to wash out, sometimes closing them for some period. There are times when the valley is isolated and you can't get in or out for short periods. The dirt roads are especially vulnerable to washouts. If you plan to travel on one of the dirt roads, be sure to check with rangers for the weather forecast and road conditions! It can also be very windy in the winter and spring. Sometimes during infrequent storms blowing sand and dust can obscure your vision, especially in the Sand Dunes area on Hwy 190. Drive with caution, or stay put until the winds slow down or the wind changes directions and driving conditions improve. 
Fall and Spring have the nicest temperatures - days are nice and warm, in the 80's, nights cool, in the 40's or 50's. However, storms can blow in with little notice and change "nice" to “threatening!” Always be prepared for all kinds of weather conditions. 
October and April-May are always "What the???" months for weather - hot one day, freezing the next.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Winter (Nov - March) is always a surprise to many - it gets below freezing at the bottom of the valley in mid-December to late January!! Cold air sinks, yes? Well, this is one heck of a deep valley, and there’s lots of cold air! Days might get up to 60°F, but nights will be right down at 30°F or less. Bring your down parka!!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Winter is also when the desert gets a lot of precipitation - even SNOW in higher places. If we get a lot of precipitation, then the pleistocene lakes fill! It’s possible in wet years to kayak on Lake Manly at Badwater, or even run the Amargosa River from Hwy 127 into the valley. !! Doesn’t happen often, but it can happen!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> <br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Might want to check these out; take an average.... or just believe http://www.nps.gov/deva/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageID=439529
http://www.intellicast.com/Local/Weather.aspx?location=USCA0286 I've found it to be pretty accurate; can get a 10 day guess 
http://content.usatoday.com/weather/CityForecast.htm?txtSearchCriteria=92328, USA Today weather - enter zip 92328
See NOAA weather- http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?zoneid=CAZ522, 
See http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/hnx/getprodversion.php?pil=zfp&sid=vef&version=0 usually pretty accurate, nice links to other places, automated rain gauges, etc. scroll down to Death Valley info
Weather Channel weather - usually OK.
of course, these are all guesses past about "tomorrow" - things change so fast around here!....<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> 
Summer is hot, very hot on the valley bottom. Daytime temperatures often go over 120 degrees and it usually doesn't cool off below 100 at night in July and August. Summer killed 2 people in 2001. (they did stupid things like go walking without water) Because it’s a very deep valley, the hot air has nowhere to go at night - so it doesn’t go...it just gets hotter the next day. (reverse of winter when the cold air can’t warm up). This is a land of extremes!!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> In 1996, June had 4 days above 120, all but 4 days of July were over 120 and 4 days hit 125, and half of August was over 120. On the other hand, early June 09 and 2011 were unbelieveably COOL, and rain at times! Go figure...<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />  How HOT is it?? This from Ranger Charlie on 8/5/1998 (and it's hotter this summer, 2007!!) 
July average is usually 115; 1998 (the last very hot year before 2006) it was 119F, 48.3C; 
30 days at 110F, 43.3C and above 
24 days at 115F, 46.1C or above 
11 days at 120F, 48.8C or above; high of 129F, 53.8C on July 17, and 127F, 52.8C on the 16th, 128F, 53.3C on the 18th of July. Now that's HOT!! 
The summer of 1999 is one of the "coolest" on record - it's relative, but it really wasn't over 120 much at all- maybe 3 days! The Summer of 2001 was one of the hottest on record!! Record temp of 134F on 6/1/2000 in the shade at Furnace Creek. 
Yet the Valley and most of the tourist facilities are open. Foreign tourists abound in the summer. Some come because it is so hot... Be sure to carry enough water so you can deal with the heat, and have extra water in case your car needs cooling down as well!! Wear a hat, use an umbrella, or do something to keep the sun off your body!! Stay indoors during the day, venture out at night, like the desert animals do! Telescope Peak is always cool in the summer, and the green lawn and trees at Scotty's Castle remain in the 90's even when the valley floor is baking.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Just to give you an idea - these are from the Visitor's Guide that you get when you pay your entrance fee: remember that averages are averages - the desert is a land of extremes!!! 
Jan 65F(18C) high, 39(4) low; Feb. 72F(22)high, 46(18C) low; March 80(27) high, 53(12C) low; and very windy; April 90(32C)/ 62(17C); May 99(37) high with several days over 100, 71(22C) low; June 109 (43C) high, 80(27C) low; July 115(46C) high, but see above, 88(31C) low - nights just don't cool off, and it's sort of humid, for a desert - blah!; August 113(45C), 85(29C) low, and blah!; September 106(41), 75(24C); October 92(33), 62(16C)- lovely!; November 76(24C), 48(9); December 65(19C), 39(4C) low and very short days - it gets cold FAST!! Can freeze. Can snow. Does snow at Scotty's.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> THE DESERT IS A LAND OF EXTREMES!! It's too hot or too cold, too wet- it floods, or too dry; stark, or covered with flowers! "Everything in the desert either stings, sticks, or stinks...."<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> SNOW?? You gotta be kidding?? Well, not usually in the valley bottom, but it sure does snow on the higher passes and peaks! There's nothing prettier than snowy Telescope Peak reflected in Badwater's pond... and during the winter (November through end of March), snow storms can come rumbling through... see snow pictures from winter 2001- 2003 and Nov. and Dec. 2004, and 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 did the same thing. Chains were required on Townes Pass a couple of times!! It gets COLD in the valley bottom during winter! Short days, cold air sinks. COLD as in near or below freezing!! Think down parkas! - yes, in DV. :-) snow happens when it's not supposed to - quite a snowstorm April 15, 2007 !!!! Always happens in March.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> - page of pictures of snow and full lakes in DV!! Taken 1/12 and 1/16/05. Nothing short of amazing! :-) 2/13/10- Cottonball marsh has a lot of surface water, and Lake Manly is ankle deep and covers most of the way across the valley. !!!! Love El Nino years.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Crazy weather!! It's a DESERT! Days hot now mid-day, even really hot sometimes, cooler at night; daylight savings helps.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> You must use sunscreen, (LOTS of UV, not good for your skin), wear a hat (cute ones for sale everywhere- stores and VC), and CARRY AND DRINK WATER. (and salt!!)<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> It's safe if you are VERY CAREFUL- take layers of clothing (think long sleeves to keep sun OFF), drink lots of water! AND EAT SALTY THINGS!! Be sure to wear a hat during the day- using an umbrella for shade works great! - and carry AND DRINK water wherever you go!! It's DRY, DRY!! (even in rain storms! especially in wind!!) DRINK your water!!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> The SNAKES are out when the thermometer says 60-90, whether day or night.-which means they're out for a bit after sunset on the paved roads to stay warm. - If you see lizards, the snakes won't be far behind. Watch out. Not all of um are poisonous - only the fat ones. Skinny snakes here are NOT poisonous. Snakes like weather from 60F to 90F- Leave them alone and they'll leave you alone!! This is their home!! They won't be near really inhabited places like Furnace Creek.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Are you flexible? Check out the moon's schedule and be here for a FULL MOON. Get out away from the 'city' lights and enjoy!!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> My favorite is the October full moon- sleep up on the Eureka dunes! April would work too... winter full moons are especially brilliant. Go for a walk on the dunes under the moon and don't use your flashlight - let your eyes adjust! Check again in the morning and see who did what last night! It’s amazing how many critters there are that come out only at night!<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Daily road and weather conditions by phone 786-3200 - 1 - 4<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Rains come and go, quickly usually. Snow happens till April! Chains could be required on Townes Pass!! (3 times in 2011 and 2013) When there are black clouds in the sky, PLEASE BE CAREFUL where you park, where you walk, where you go - remember that a) it doesn't have to be raining where you are to get a flash flood - the rain can be way, way away and still get downhill to you!! and b) cars don't swim well, not even VW's! You might well get stranded out away from your bed- roads DO wash out so you can't use um at all! If there is water running across the road, DON'T cross it. Just wait. If there is HEAVY rain, and it's forecast to do this, pull over and just wait. It won't last for long, it's pretty spectacular to watch, and you don't want to be washed off the road into who knows where (like a snake-filled ditch! There, did that get you??!!)<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> If questions, call before you go - 760-786-3200 (8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) Just cause it's windy in Ridgecrest or Las Vegas doesn't mean it's windy in Death Valley- unless a front is passing through, then you get to watch geology in action! ASK!! Look UP. Black sky and lightning = rain somewhere!! Go get HIGH and stay put.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /> Changes happen QUICKLY in the desert! Keep your eyes on the sky, STOP WHEN IT GETS DANGEROUS!! Storms in the desert move quickly - so it’ll pass on by, with winds, then be nice again.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />

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Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, Pupfish

http://www.fws.gov/refuge/ash_meadows/ This amazing place is in the Amargosa Valley, the next valley east of Death Valley.  The Amargosa River flows through it, mostly underground except when it flash floods.  There are many earthquake faults which have resulted in warm clear waters coming up and forming amazing warm pools – and all the pools have Pupfish in them!! The new Visitor Center is well worth a visit, even in summer!  It’s a short walk to Crystal Pool and Point of Rocks pool. Longstreet Spring

Crystal Spring and Point of Rocks springs are your best chance to see Pupfish!

Visitor Activities

Seasons

Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge is a biodiversity hotspot and a haven for rare plants and animals; an incredible story of survival for an ancient species of fish.  Experience the last remaining oasis in the Mojave Desert, ponder the mysteries of the famous Devils Hole, stroll along beautiful boardwalks and walk in the footsteps of ancient peoples and pioneers. Devils Hole, Death Valley Natl Park;  fenced, no public access, but lots of info in the Visitor Center!

Devils HoleDevils Hole is a fascinating place although the height of the viewing platform doesn’t allow for an up-close and personal experience.  It has been a part of, and managed by, Death Valley National Park since 1952 although its located within the refuge boundaries  This water filled cavern is home to the smallest and rarest pupfish in the world, the Devils Hole pupfish.  The water maintains a temperature of 93° (F) all year-round.  Professional scuba divers from Death Valley National Park have mapped the depth to 500 feet but the bottom has never been found.   Three scuba divers broke through the fence in 1965 and two went missing.  There were 44 rescue divers that spent 3 days searching for them but no trace was ever found.  The most fascinating fact about Devils Hole is that within minutes of an earthquake somewhere in the world waves as high as 6 feet tall have occurred in Devils Hole. 

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