Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page > Death Valley in early April 2012. How many nights?
Notices

Death Valley in early April 2012. How many nights?

Reply

Jul 17th, 2011, 09:18 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Death Valley in early April 2012. How many nights?

We'd be driving from the S.F. Bay Area. We'd like enough time to get a good overview of the different parts of the park. Moderate hiking is probable,

I know enough about the park that many of the interesting areas are located quite a distance from each other. Would three nights be enough to give us a good feel for the place while still giving us some good exploring time in areas where there are hiknig opportunities?

Furnace Creek has availability for our dates, both at the Inn or the Ranch.

Thanks.
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 10:10 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,861
Since you are driving all the way from the Bay Area, you won't have a chance to see/do much of anything day 1. I'd do 3 nights (but 4 would be great).
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 10:13 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 59,861
Meant to add - that drive will take at least 10 hours so 4 nights would be good so you don't have 2 10+ hour drives 3 days apart.
janisj is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 11:42 AM
  #4
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
You're right janis, that is a long drive. Google puts it at 8 and half hours and with stops, that's about 10 hours easy. Too bad there isn't an interesting or pleasant place to stop, spend the night and break the road trip up. I don't think Kettleman City qualifies.

It is also too bad 120 over Tioga Pass won't be open as a drive down the Eastern Sierra on 395 would be preferable to 5 down through the Central Valley. Thanks for responding.
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 02:38 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
We weren't expecting much at DV, but were pleasantly suprised. I think two full days there is probably enough depending on how much hiking you want to do. So yeah, probably three nights in your case. Titus Canyon drive is a thriller if you are in a high clearance vehicle. I wanted to attempt the Racetrack Playa area to see the sliding rocks, but I was in a rental and didn't want to risk it. We did Titus, Scotty's Castle, Artist Point, Badwater, had a meal at The Inn(very good), Devils Golf Course, Zabiski Point,hike to the natural bridge, a couple of other drives-- all in our two days there. If you like it a little more relaxed you might consider three.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 03:22 PM
  #6
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Thanks spiro about the timing. LOL about the high clearance vehicle road. We will most likely be in low clearance sports car. Not exactly an off road vehicle. We will have to stick to the more accessible roads I am afraid.

What time of year did you go?

I haven't done much research on the national park's website yet, but I am thinking two full days will be plenty. We have the time to add another night though, so what we might do is either on the way down or the way back make a stop at the coast to break the drive up a bit. Maybe Cambria or Pismo and just take 101. It is 6 hours from Furnace Creek to Cambria and 3 and half hours from Cambria to home or visa versa.
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 04:35 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,188
You could easily spend 3 - 4 days exploring the park and doing short hikes. The weather starts getting into the 100's by mid-April so early April should be good. The last time we went to Death Valley was early April and had great weather. We spent 5 nights and had 4 full days. We thought we would have some relaxing time, but we kept finding more things to do!

We're also from the Bay Area but did this as part of a two week trip RV trip that included a wedding in S. California a night near the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve which is in full bloom around this time each year! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antelop..._Poppy_Reserve

Utahtea
utahtea is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 06:23 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
We were there over New Years Eve/Day.

We stayed at the ranch, but I would probably opt for the inn next time. But the ranch was fine. Pretty typical park lodging.

http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...0IatW7FqybsWFs
Above is our photos from about 3 years ago. The first few picture are of Red Rock Canyon between Vegas and DV. Every two pictures are identical(sorry about that). Just look at every other pic.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 06:29 PM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
Just about half of the photos are duplicates about halfway through
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 07:19 PM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Thanks Utahtea! I value your opinion.

It is good to know that there will be plenty to do however long we decide to stay there. I didn't know it got that hot there so early!

I've heard of the poppy reserve, but have never been there. It looks amazing.

We just got back from Italy where we got in a little late on the poppy bloom in a place called the Piano Grande in the Sibillini National Park in the Umbrian region. It is a huge meadow that blooms in red poppies in late May, early June. It was a latish bloom this year and we did get to see some, but it wasn't the blanket of color that everyone hopes to see. It was gorgeous nonetheless, as high meadows usually are.
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 17th, 2011, 07:29 PM
  #11
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Wow spirobulldog! Those are amazing photos. Thanks for sharing the link.

The inn is a little on the pricey side, but it is probably worth the extra $$$.
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2011, 11:52 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,229
Hi, Iamq - Death Valley was one of our yearly hiking vacations for many, many years. It's DH's favorite but the last trip was 2009. We live a bit north of you and it does take about 10-11 hours to get there, depending on stops. Sometimes it takes 9 1/2. Early April is good for DV but you never know. Sometimes by Aoril 10 the heat can climb. Sometimes we drive it all in one shot but it's a killer. We've stayed overnight in the following places to break up the drive: Ridgecrest, Lone Pine, Lee Vining, Mojave. I didn't like staying in Mojave; it's windy and bleak. The fastest route from the Bay Area is through Bakerfield and then we stay in Ridgecrest, get up early and drive into the park the next day. We really like Lone Pine for an overnight on the way there, but coming from Bakersfield, it is a little jog out of the way. Sometimes we go over 88 to Monitor Pass and down 395, a very scenic route which takes longer and is dependent on snow levels and road clearings.

We usually go for 5 nights or longer. I think 4 would be the minimum for all that driving. If you are a teacher and going on Spring Break (as I used to do), you will find DV to be an incredibly relaxing place. We have stayed in every accomodation (even the rustic cabins and camping) but prefer staying at Furnace Creek Ranch. We ask for a room in the back overlooking the golf course, as this is a quieter area and we love to have a glass of wine in the evening or morning coffee from our balcony and watch the abundant wildlife. You will see coyotes come to the spring for a drink. The Inn is beautiful and has an amazing view. If you don't mind the cost, go for it. At the very least go there to have a drink and look around or have dinner there. The Ranch is a basic motel room but comfy enough and near a couple of restaurants (don't expect much) and a store. (They sell the delicious date bread that is made at the Inn). The Ranch is closer to the Visitor Center.

I have many favorite hikes and places to explore that I'll gladly share with you.
elnap29 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2011, 12:08 PM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Thanks elnap. It seems that we have much in common!

Thanks for the inside scoop on room location at the Ranch. In the end, that is where we will probably opt to stay as the prices are more in line with what I'd like to pay on this trip.

I will take a look at a map with regard to Ridgecrest and Lone Pine. Are there destinations within the park that are within striking distance of it?

I would love information on hikes and places to explore.

There is a good chance we might go in latish February instead of in April. That has not been decided yet.

Thanks again.
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2011, 01:29 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 451
What would the weather be like in DV in late Jan?

Thanks, Margo
Margo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2011, 02:15 PM
  #15
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Hi Margo,

I don't know the answer to your question, but this link on nps site for Death Valley explains the seasons pretty well.

http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/seasons.htm

Historical weather info:

http://www.meoweather.com/history/Un...0Junction.html
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2011, 02:45 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,229
Iamq, once you decide on the month of travel, we can recommend stops/hikes/places of interest, as some might be weather and season dependent. For example, if you go in February, you most likely will travel south by way of Bakersfield. You could still choose to overnight in Ridgecrest or Lone Pine, though, and choose your entrance accordingly. I find Owens Lake fascinating, but coming in through Trona and a slight detour to Ballarat is interesting also. We have some off-the-beaten path slot canyons we love also, but going there would be season-dependent. There are so many "don't miss" places, and many people drive right by some quick and obvious ones.

Titus Canyon is amazing, and our old Datsun and VW managed it just fine in the old, old days (slowly and carefully, while getting out of the car to move a few fallen boulders) but in 1996 we got a high-clearance, front-wheel drive vehicle - which made it easy. These days there is no way I'd try the Prius. Instead, you can park your car in the parking lot at the EXIT and hike into Titus Canyon as far is you like. That same parking lot has the trailhead for the next canyon over, Fall Canyon - also a very nice hike.

In the meantime, do add Salt Creek as a must-stop on your way in. Just a short drive on a gravel road to a boardwalk where you will see the pupfish which have adapted to survive in very shallow water that changes in temp from extreme heat to extreme cold.

There is so much to see and do there. Each trip we have certain things we always do, and then we always try to add a few new places. DH has been going there 1 -2 times/year since he was 13 and we haven't run out of new adventures in DV yet.
elnap29 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 1st, 2011, 02:57 PM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,229
Margo, I've never been in January (well, maybe over the Christmas school break into the first few days of January). In late December we had sunny, comfortable days, but in the late afternoons a freezing wind would kick up, blowing off the snowy peaks high above. In those days we camped, so cooking meals outside was tricky - and cold. The tent was warm for sleeping, though. If you have a camper or stay in the motel you'd probably be fine. I've heard people complain about the wind (it can kick up sand) but have not experienced it like that. After a few years of going in December, we switched to March or early April for more predictable, comfortable weather.
elnap29 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 2nd, 2011, 05:13 PM
  #18
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Hi Elnap,

I am ready to reserve a room at the Ranch for 4 nights, the first week in April. In your post above, you mentioned a particular room location. Is that a standard or a deluxe room? The standard rooms are in a two story building and the deluxe rooms are in the one story building that apparently faces the pool. The deluxe is $20 more a night. Any suggestions?

Anyone is welcome to chime in here if they have stayed at the Ranch and have any input on room category. There are the cabins too, which are considerably less $$ than the motel units.

Thanks
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 2nd, 2011, 08:55 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,229
We usually go with the standard. When our kids were little, I was envious of friends who stayed in the Deluxe rooms but would not choose them now. The rooms are a bit larger, I think, and open onto a large grassy area near the pool. For us it would be too active of an area - lots going on like volleyball, etc. Great with kids. Or if you enjoy watching all the activity. We usually ask for a quiet room, upstairs, overlooking the golf course. I can't remember the letter name of the building but try to get a room that does not face directly west (too hot to use the balcony in the late afternoon). Some people prefer the lower floor so they have a patio instead.

We've stayed in the rustic cabins, too. It looks like they've improved them considerably since we stayed there. The cabins even have TV now. They are fine. But not for everyone. They are closer to the road, but at night there is little traffic. They are also closer to the office, the market and the restaurants. No kitchens in them. Just bedroom and bathroom, usually duplex style. You park your car near your door.
elnap29 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Aug 3rd, 2011, 08:08 AM
  #20
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 8,798
Thanks elnap!

That information makes it easier to decide which room to reserve. We like being on the second floor and in quieter locations as well. That served us well when we stayed in Zion.

I think we'll pass on the cabins, however, saving some $$ is attractive. We'll see.

At this point, I think we are going to make the drive straight through into the park on day one. We'll leave early and will be counter to most of the commute traffic through the Bay Area, so we should make reasonable time, especially once we hit 5.

Do you recommend staying on 178 and taking that all the way to 190 or going up 395 to 190?

We'll make the drive home in two days though stopping on the coast for some cool sea air.

Thanks!
iamq is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:41 PM.