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Old 08-10-2006, 09:26 PM   #1
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Death Valley

We are contemplating a trip during Thanksgiving week to Death Valley (from Atlanta), and we would love any experience - sites to see, camping recommendations etc. Last year we went to Big Bend NP during the same week and boondocked. We would contemplate the same here or could stay at a campground. Kids and school dictate the amount of time we could spend - perhaps 3-4 days there on-site. Any thoughts much appreciated!
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:46 PM   #2
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Death Valley!!!

That is an excellent time to go! That is like home away from home for us. First of all there are plenty of places to camp, depending on what you want to see and what kind of camping. They do have everything from boondocking to full hook-ups. take your pick.
there are 3 major campgrounds there: Stovepipe Wells, Texas Springs and Mesquite Springs. They all have some facilities if you don't want to use all your water. They do have dumps and in the case of Texas and Stovepipe - restaurants.

As for things to see - I would refer you to the multitudes of web sites that have information on things to see. There is so much that in the 6 or so times we have been there we still have not seen all that we want to see. The Death Valley Natural History Assn. runs the visitors center at Furnace Creek and it is worth stopping by because they have all kinds of info, books and such. They don't have a web site up and running (yet but I am working on it - hint, hint).

O.K. for some Links. I would download and print out this map - http://astronomynv.org/dvsp/docs/devamap.pdf. It is a very detailed map of the area and the more popular attractions.

Here is the national Park service's web site on DV - http://www.nps.gov/deva/

Here is a link to another good site on the park - http://www.death.valley.national-park.com/visit.htm

Current Weather conditions - http://www.wunderground.com/cgi-bin/...ath+valley,+ca

For what it's worth - the Death Valley Morning Report - http://www.nps.gov/deva/Morning.pdf
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:48 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilesrob
We are contemplating a trip during Thanksgiving week to Death Valley (from Atlanta), and we would love any experience - sites to see, camping recommendations etc. Last year we went to Big Bend NP during the same week and boondocked. We would contemplate the same here or could stay at a campground. Kids and school dictate the amount of time we could spend - perhaps 3-4 days there on-site. Any thoughts much appreciated!
We were at Death Valley two years ago for Veterans Day weekend. It is the same time as the Death Valley Rendezvous with about 2000 of our closest RV friends and 50 El Camino Real members. We stayed in the overflow area across the road from the Furnace Creek visitor center. I believe that all campgrounds are no hookups. The weather was fantastic, although some roads were closed because of the recent flash floods. Check the NPS website for current road info. The visitor center will give you all the information about the sights.

Bill
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Old 08-10-2006, 09:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
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I believe that all campgrounds are no hookups.
Actually Stovepipe Wells does have a limited (less than 10) full hook-up slots. Call them for more information and reservations. The rest do not.

That overflow parking is nice and flat. It is actually called Sunset Campground. But if you don't mind leveling a little bit, Texas Springs is a little more scenic. We have camped there (heck we have camped just about everywhere in DV). There is a slight slope but you should be able to level fairly well with the plastic block things.

If you are going bring a pair of binoculars - trust me.
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Old 08-10-2006, 10:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilesrob
We are contemplating a trip during Thanksgiving week to Death Valley (from Atlanta), and we would love any experience - sites to see, camping recommendations etc. Last year we went to Big Bend NP during the same week and boondocked. We would contemplate the same here or could stay at a campground. Kids and school dictate the amount of time we could spend - perhaps 3-4 days there on-site. Any thoughts much appreciated!
Look at "Death Valley 49ers.org--you might find something here you'll like.
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Old 08-10-2006, 11:20 PM   #6
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Take half a day and go to Darwin (an old mine town 30 miles west and just outside the park). Paved road all the way. An old 1940s' Airstream there amid the semi-ghost town. Lots of underground houses and some old cave homes from back in the 30's. If you're really explorers, you'll take the loop around to Darwin Falls--suddenly water from nowhere for maybe a mile of river, with narrows and falls and foliage. Unexpected.

I think also an early 70s Caravel. Take it slow and the residents will warm to you. Get a tour of an underground house. Take pictures!

In Death Valley, Marble Canyon is nice, but it's 7 miles or so of washboard.

Walk out in the dunes, for sure.

If you head for Darwin and consider yourself "exceptional," go into the Saline Valley and experience the clothes optional hot springs. Quite a community there--long time devotees coming and going in the most remote place you'll ever see a UPS truck. Totally blew me away. I mean remote.

Then head west and get on 395. Head north to Mono Lake. Nifty towns all the way. Too much to talk about here. If you get far enough, you'll get to the turnoff to Bodie ghost town. Drop the Airstream early, the last two miles are dirt and a little rough. Not bad for a TV, but I'd only take my AS down it if I was going to park for a night or two.
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Old 08-11-2006, 12:10 AM   #7
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Mesquite Springs is my favorite campground, it's nice to get away from the lights for stargazing.

If your comfortable driving on graded gravel roads, the one way drive down Titus Canyon is a must do. Very cool.

Mark
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Old 08-11-2006, 12:13 AM   #8
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How about Ubehebe and then a trip down to Racetrack and back.

I could tell the story of the flat tire in Hidden Valley - miles from anything!!!
Sure glad we had the spare.
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Old 08-11-2006, 12:35 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buttercup
Quote:
How about Ubehebe and then a trip down to Racetrack and back.
Another must do drive. It's just plain fun to say Ubehebe.

Mark
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Old 08-11-2006, 02:08 AM   #10
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Death Valley trip

Nilesrob, When your trip is over how about a report W/pictures on your "Death Valley Days" adventure? The wife and I are planning just such a trip when the work is done on the "Landshark" so any info would be of great interest to us. Thanks, Ed
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Old 08-11-2006, 04:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Buttercup
How about Ubehebe and then a trip down to Racetrack and back.
....
Ubehebe is easy and worth it, but can you take an Airstream down the road to Racetrack? Should you? Is that still an all day trip at 7 mph?

I broke a wheel--snapped a piece of the rim off--going into Saline Valley from the south.
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Old 08-11-2006, 04:30 AM   #12
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It is a long trip at 7 mph and the road is usually not graded so quite washboarded. There are no real camping places out there. I have camped in the back of a truck but I honestly can not imagine anybody taking that road to racetrack towing an Airstream.
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Old 08-11-2006, 10:45 AM   #13
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Coyote...

Approaching Scotty's Castle on Grapevine Canyon Road , I see this sign that says " Do Not Stop and Feed The Coyote " . I'm thinking "what the h...?" as I come around the next turn, heres a coyote standing in the middle of the road waiting for a handout from passing motorists. He has gotton so successful he's there all the time. I don't know if he is still there, but slow down and Don't Stop.

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Old 08-11-2006, 11:05 AM   #14
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Do not tow anything to the Racetrack!!!!

It is an amazing place to visit but you need a really good 4WD SUV or truck. You will be going about 5 MPH on a rocky, dusty road for about 20 miles to get there.

On that note of warning, we went there in a rented Pontiac Grand AM!!! Oh man, what an adventure.

We made it there, with vehicles passing by us that had tires that were taller than our rental car.

Halfway back, we heard a grinding noise from the back end of the car every time we engaged the brakes. We got out of the car and I could see that there were a million pieces of rocks and pebbles in and around the rotors(?)

It was at this point with my ass up in the air looking underneath the car and scratching my head like an idiot, we were greeted by a real live rattlesnake. It was at this juncture that I was glad I had a will and everything that I have goes to the wife and cats.

Now it's not everyday a city boy gets to see a real snake. So I, the real professional photographer, attempt to take a nice portrait of the thing. Problem was I had my wide angle lens on and and was to lazy to switch to something like a 1000mm lens. And besides, if you get bit, you just have someone manually suck and spit out the venom. Just like in the movies, right?

I had to get pretty close. Then the thing got really got pissed off. Hissing, spitting, tail shaking mad. Just what I needed now, a classic anti-semetic snake to deal with. It sort of reminded me of my uncle Bernie, when he was drinking.

So now the snake is angry, the wife is livid, I did the only thing a self respecting tourist should do: run away!

To hell with the rocks in the brakes. We finally made it to the main road and back to our lodge.

We're pretty sure thaty when we return that car, the person who goes over the vehicle would shut one of the doors and the whole thing would just crumble into a pile of unsalvageable GM parts.

Moral: Do go to the race track, but go there with the right vehicle. And don't disturb any rocks!

PS: I never did get the portrait of that snake.

Jonathan
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