Death Valley and Joshua Tree in January

Old Nov 18th, 2022, 04:58 PM
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Death Valley and Joshua Tree in January

I am visiting friends in Encinitas, CA for New Years Eve. My husband and I are in our early 60's and always wanted to see the US via a Camper van. We have NEVER traveled in a camper van (or RV) so we are renting one for 5 days just to see if we will enjoy it. We will be traveling the first week of January. We are looking at doing the following and any help would be appreciated. Visit the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library then drive up to Death Valley National Park. Then head to Joshua Tree National Park.

Any recommendations what to see in Death Valley and/or Joshua Tree in January? Any stops we should do along way? Have you taken a camper van and where was the best place to stay overnight. Any advice for a first time traveler in Camper van?







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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 05:19 PM
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Death Valley is great that time of year unless there is rain. Stop in the VC and get a map. There is lots to see and the park is huge. The main road has lots to see if you are just doing a drive through and a few short loops off it. If your RV is fairly small ( less than 25 feet) you will be able to go most places, but if it is larger, some of the areas off the main paved road will not be permitted.

I think Scotty,s Castle May still be closed due to flood damage a while ago. For a fairly easy hike, go to Marble Canyon.

Get gas before you head in, keep water and snacks with you, options for food are limited at that time of year. We were there last December and there was snow in the mountains on both sides, but just rain down in the valley.

Enjoy the adventure.
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 07:53 PM
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It would probably be too cold for me to sleep in an RV in Death Valley and Joshua Tree in January. I admit I'm a bit of a wimp, but overnight temps could easily be in the low 40s/upper 30s.
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Old Nov 18th, 2022, 08:41 PM
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OK -- you are looking forward to this RV adventure . . . but me personally, I wouldn't do it. The dessert gets very cold at night and as mentioned the size of RV makes a big difference where you can drive.

If it was my trip -- which isn't isn't of course -- I'd not rent an RV and instead do this in a regular car, possibly a 4WD, and stay in hotels.

If you were old hands at RVing, then sure, but for a first time -- I wouldn't choose this trip to try one out.
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Old Nov 19th, 2022, 07:41 AM
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I agree with Jean and janisj on this one. I do remember my first and only night spent in Death Valley. I was a teenager at the time and I slept on a picnic table with a sheet over me (summertime low overnight was 90). My parents had a 20' camping trailer and lots of experience by that time. My more recent trips to DV have been day trips from Las Vegas or Barstow. I don't want to ever spend another night in Death Valley.
I have never been to Joshua Tree NP but can tell you that you can see all the Joshua trees you want in the Mojave National Preserve. There are some impressive sand dunes in the Preserve as well.
On my last trip to DV I was driving the one way Artist loop and near the end I encountered a group of motorcyclists. One of them had put his cycle into a drainage structure and the bike was upside down and he was injured and in need of an ambulance. There is little or no cell phone service in the park so I drove many miles to the VC and informed them of the situation.
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 12:26 AM
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You should note that Joshua Tree National Park campground can accommodate RVs up to 35 feet in length. The campground provides toilets and tables, but you will need to bring everything else with you, such as enough food and water. You will need to bring fuel for a fire, as the climate is very dry and you will need to be extra careful when building a fire. Each campsite can accommodate up to 6 people for $20 per night.
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Old Dec 1st, 2022, 12:03 AM
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I would not drive a camper van to the Reagan Library. You have to go through LA and the Library is on a hill. You should check to see if they even allow camper vans in their parking lot. Plus from Encinitas it is in the opposite direction of the other sites you want to visit. I would just focus on Joshua Tree and Death Valley with the camper van. As others have mentioned, bring lots of water and make sure you have enough gas.
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 11:44 AM
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An update! The camper van we rented was 19 feet so we were able to go into Reagan Library without an issue. The week we went to California they had a lot of rain. 7 of the 8 days had rain! We watched the news and thankfully not much rain in Death Valley or Joshua Tree. Listened to the advice so we had enough gas, food and wood! We stayed at Furnace Creek campground for 2 days. The temperature at night was in the 40's so was really nice sleeping weather. There were a few restaurants in Furnace Creek open so that was nice. Death Valley was absolutely gorgeous and amazing in January - even with cloudy skies. We then drove to Joshua Tree for our only sunny day. Joshua Tree was nice but nothing compared to Death Valley.

Thank you all for your input and advice!
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 03:26 PM
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Thanks for reporting back. Sounds like you had a good time even with the weather.

IME you were lucky with the night time temps. When I've visited the desert in mid winter its been a lot colder.
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Old Jan 14th, 2023, 10:23 PM
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Thanks for reporting back!
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Old Jan 15th, 2023, 04:10 PM
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Dat Valley is awesome. Glad you enjoyed the park. Thanks for reporting. What areas did tou hike?
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