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Old 02-10-2016, 11:33 PM   #1
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Dispersed camping in Death Valley

Those of you tracking the wildflower season will know that things are happening much earlier than expected in Death Valley this year. We scrambled to get out there and it's magnificent! Because we were arriving late I reserved a camp spot in Furnace Creek at the Fiddler's campground. One can't reserve the NP campground less than 3 days in advance and we wanted to avoid the Sunset parking lot. Well, Fiddlers is also a parking lot with no generator restrictions. So it met all our criteria: awful location, noisy for dinner, and noise for breakfast! Criteria for running away that is!

Fortunately DV allows dispersed camping anywhere 2mi from paved road and 1mi from west end road. We located a nice spot and drove bunch of miles over graded dirt roads to land in the spot below. Nirvana!

Sadly as we were backing in we noticed that our fresh water tank is leaking. Not the ideal situation in the desert >50mi from the closest water source! That explained why we found the tank more empty than expected in the morning when leaving Fiddler's. No exterior damage is visible, so something must have cracked inside. Darn, sounds like work for me as soon as we get home! For now we have 3 5gal canisters full of water plus a bucket and a tub. Probably no shower tomorrow or the day after, sigh, life is hard :-).
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Old 02-18-2016, 11:29 PM   #2
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We're currently at the Shoshone, RV park just southeast of DVNP. We miss your desert solitude but enjoy the warm springs pool and local hiking trails in the Amargosa nature preserve The flowers are out in DVNP, probably best around the Bad Water area, from what we were told, so we headed out there this morning. But to any easterners used to showy displays, the desert flowers are often small and perhaps best observed on-foot.

Two roads are washed out, and may remain so for the season: Scotty's Castle and the lower Badwater Road (HY 178) but you can get through via the Greenwater Valley/Furnace Creek road.
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Old 03-09-2016, 02:32 PM   #3
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i am planning to go this Friday - any tips on dispersed places i should aim for? i hear that people are jampacked and LATIMES said that their might not be any availability at any of the campgrounds (which i find unlikely)
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Old 03-09-2016, 03:35 PM   #4
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Be sure to pack a big dose of luck :-)
Also beware that it might be pretty darn windy given that another storm is going through.
I think you need to be prepared to find "whatever" to stay the first night and then plan to scout other options, which may not become available until sunday evening (if you're staying more than 2 nights). I have a hard time believing that you find nothing at all in furnace creek but it may be quite packed and noisy. I would keep "the pads" as my alternative. We checked it out and would have gone there if we hadn't found the spot at the south end. Given that flowers have moved north as far as I can tell, the pads is probably a better option than the south end in any case. You won't have any problem getting in there with your 28', the access road was wide open when we went.
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Old 03-09-2016, 08:53 PM   #5
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What a beautiful spot! I'm envious, except for your water leak.


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Old 03-09-2016, 10:11 PM   #6
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We just left there today. Texas Springs was full every night. Our spot was taken before we had even left! By another Airstream no less. We found the best wildflower viewing at mm 25 on Badwater Rd. We also drove up to the Charcoal Kilns and was snowed on.
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Old 03-10-2016, 01:50 PM   #7
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ModernVista, Did I read "dispersed camping" correctly? When you're away from the front country, it is allowed so long as you stay close to the road.

http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/backcamp.htm
You might try the Greenwater Valley Road/Furnace Wash Road south of Dante's View. The scenery isn't the most interesting, but the road is pretty good. We drove it south to state HY 178 which is posted as closed due to a washout, but we took it from the junction w/ Furnace Wash Road and HY 127 (through Shoshone) with no problem. We saw only a couple of vehicles.

Another interesting place is the Harry Wade Road at the southern border of the park, off of state HY127 between Baker and Shoshone. The road is graded but pretty washboarded-- we'd take the AS in there if we drove nice and slow. You can't camp at Saratoga Spring (well worth a visit) but there is dispersed camping along the road in and on a reasonable jeep road (closed partway through) just north of it. We saw very few vehicles and people in this area.
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Old 03-10-2016, 02:59 PM   #8
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L 'n J -

regarding 'dispersed' - yeah, i'm totally up for it. if we found a good campsite (lucked out) i would do that, but would prefer to camp blm-style if we can find a good spot otherwise.

thanks for the tips!! i am doing my research now, so the timing is perfect!

chris
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Old 03-11-2016, 03:34 PM   #9
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We just went for an outing in our truck around the southeastern part of Death Valley NP today, and saw two (count 'em: two) other vehicles the entire trip inside the park. The key is to get away from the popular front county areas.

We started south of Shoshone on HY 127, and turned right on Furnace Creek Wash Road. This is BLM land just south of the park. It is a graded and graveled road through BLM land, and we saw probably 8 or 10 widely dispersed RVs-- including a pair of Airstreams. Further north, there were no campers, and we did a short hike in the Ibex Wilderness Area just south of the park. From HY 127 HY 178 to Badwater is closed due to a washout, but coming up the way we did, you can jog on 178 for 1.2 miles east, then continue north on Furnace Wash Road into the park heading north. You can't camp within a mile of HY 178, but after that, the road is available for dispersed camping. There are some "hardened campsites" along the way.

We then went east on the Deadman Pass road. We wouldn't take our AS on it past the first little bit, but it is entirely passable for a high clearance vehicle. The pass is at 3300 feet, so there were nice wildflowers up there, even though they're fading lower down. This took us back to highway 127 and back to Shoshone, where we're staying at the RV park.

We are thinking of going back to the Furnace Wash Road for some boondocking after we leave Shoshone.
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Old 03-11-2016, 04:11 PM   #10
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Maybe we should mention, this Furnace Wash road is not the same as the Furnace Creek area in the park (campgrounds, resorts.) But quite a ways south of it. I suppose it's the same drainage system further down, though.

Also, hopefully anyone who is new to desert boondocking in a remote dispersed campsite will take some good safety precautions, like extra water, maps, telling someone where you're going & when you plan to be back, a big first-aid kit, and so on. You can't count on cell phone service in some of these places. Among the vehicles we haven't seen in the out-of-the-way BLM lands in and around Death Valley and its more remote sections are park rangers ready to get someone out of an emergency or vehicle break-down.

But the scenery is just breathtaking. So happy to be here.
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Old 03-15-2016, 05:01 PM   #11
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We just got back! it was lovely - my wife 'caught' a lot of photos of flowers. We missed the super-bloom (too late in lower elevations and too early for mid-elevations) but lots of flowers nonetheless.
the first night we camped in Sunset as we landed fairly late, but nights 2+3 we took your advice and dispersed camped 1.1 miles from dante's view road on green-water. We found some sites further along, but as we were doing the north end of the park we decided to remain close to the road to reduce 'back and forth' - i'll upload some photos!

thanks for the excellent advice!
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Old 03-23-2016, 03:55 PM   #12
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How great! Death Valley in February/March is sure growing on us, so long as we can visit its vast expanses without lots of people. We just dispersed-camped east of the park (west of Tecopa, south of Shoshone) in Furnace Creek Wash on BLM land. Plenty of wide-open space there.
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