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Old 01-03-2005, 07:41 PM   #1
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Death Valley Road Report

Hey all,

Well, my Denali has been fully road tested now with my roadtrip to Death Valley. With 6-9% grades being constant both up and down 28 miles over the Panamint Mountains, then down to below sea level in Death Valley before climbing up to Daylight Pass at 4,316 ft and over the 8% grade of the Funeral mountains, I feel my truck has been tested. Wow, what a day! The 6.0 Vortec was fantastic pulling my beloved aluminum load. Just fantastic! Really impressed with that engine. Never got too warm in temp gauge. Tranny got a little warm near top of Daylight Pass but needle really hardly moved. Going down 8% grades for 20 miles really made me feel that big load pushing me down. But the low second gear worked well with occasional hard braking. Wow, it is a long way down into Death Valley, the lowest point in North America. Feels like you are desending into the depths of the Earth, which I was. My rig handled it all far better than my expectations. I now have NO DOUBT that my Denali can handle my AS on any highway in America. My final test will be the high altitude grade of the Eisenhower Tunnel. That will be this summer.

Anyway, Death Valley SHOULD be on everyone's list. It is a place like no other in the world. The views in every direction wherever you go is AWESOME. Really. Breathtaking wherever you gaze. Won't even try to explain the specialness of this place. It must be seen to understand. Put it on your list of places to see!

A few pics to illustrate my point. Notice the long road I climbed up in third pic all the way from the valley floor.
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Old 01-04-2005, 01:11 AM   #2
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Nice!

Looks like a great place to visit.
When was this trip? temps? I hear it's mostly closed in teh summer due to very high temps?
When is the bast time to go? Let's!
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Old 01-04-2005, 10:03 AM   #3
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Big Dee--If you really want a HOOT go there in Nov.to the Death Valley 49er's encampment. We were there this past Nov. and besides the views and park it's self the encampment was great fun. There was several AS there, mostly vintage units that were traveling together. You can get info on the encampment from their web site www.deathvalley49ers.org or the Nat park service web page. The park service web page has a "morning report" which gives daily weather and roar conditions. I agree , this is a really neat place. Planning on a return trip this year--Pieman
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Old 01-04-2005, 11:17 AM   #4
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Death Valley is a special place, but you should know what you are getting into before you go. Not everyone enjoys it.

1. Death Valley is large. About the size of Delaware. From the little used south entrance to the north end must be about a three hour drive.

2. The valley is the lowest point in North or South America at 282 feet below sea level. It also contains peaks in excess of 11,000 feet.

3. Weather is extraordinarily variable and can be extreme. Temperatures to 120 deg (and more!), sandstorms, blizzards, and oddly enough, flooding can be encountered.

4. Dining and lodging facilities are limited. The nearest real city is Las Vegas, about 180 miles away.

5. The headquarters station at Furnace Creek has many interesting exhibits, there are some really good drives, and Scotty's Castle is a favorite, but virtually everything else pretty much requires you to get out and see it on your own. Some roads cannot accomodate a trailer. For that matter, some roads require 4 x 4. Movie theaters, good grocery stores, pizza, and just about anything else are all two, three hours away.

6. It is hot in the summer. Really hot. The park does not close for that reason. European tourists like to come then so they can brag about how hot it was. It may get quite cool in the evening, however.

7. I like to go in January/February. Shirtsleeves at Stovepipe Wells, three feet of snow in Wildrose canyon just 20 miles away. I suspect everyone has their favorite season. Wildflowers bloom in March/April.

8. If you think it is fun to drive over Town pass with an RV, you should try it on a bicycle! Wow!

Mark
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Old 01-04-2005, 04:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uwe
Looks like a great place to visit.
When was this trip? temps? I hear it's mostly closed in teh summer due to very high temps?
When is the bast time to go? Let's!
Uwe,

The park is not closed in summer but only European tour busses are crazy enough to go there. It is the hottest, driest point in North America. Even fall is too brutal. It is defintely a winter/spring destination. I use to go in Spring for the wildflowers but I only get a week off in Spring now (not enough). So this year I tried my Christmas break of two weeks. Perfect amount of time. It gets cold at night, though, in the desert.

Uwe, if you like Baja, then you will love Death Valley. Both deserts are awesome. You live close. I can't believe you havent been there yet. You will be blown away. The peace and quiet of DV is like no place else. No light or noise pollution whatsoever. It's PURE! The landforms are a geologist's wonderland. You must go Uwe, then you will understand. And I bet you'll start making DV trips yearly as well as Baja.
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Old 01-04-2005, 05:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by j54mark
Death Valley is a special place, but you should know what you are getting into before you go. Not everyone enjoys it.

1. Death Valley is large. About the size of Delaware. From the little used south entrance to the north end must be about a three hour drive.

2. The valley is the lowest point in North or South America at 282 feet below sea level. It also contains peaks in excess of 11,000 feet.

3. Weather is extraordinarily variable and can be extreme. Temperatures to 120 deg (and more!), sandstorms, blizzards, and oddly enough, flooding can be encountered.

4. Dining and lodging facilities are limited. The nearest real city is Las Vegas, about 180 miles away.

5. The headquarters station at Furnace Creek has many interesting exhibits, there are some really good drives, and Scotty's Castle is a favorite, but virtually everything else pretty much requires you to get out and see it on your own. Some roads cannot accomodate a trailer. For that matter, some roads require 4 x 4. Movie theaters, good grocery stores, pizza, and just about anything else are all two, three hours away.

6. It is hot in the summer. Really hot. The park does not close for that reason. European tourists like to come then so they can brag about how hot it was. It may get quite cool in the evening, however.

7. I like to go in January/February. Shirtsleeves at Stovepipe Wells, three feet of snow in Wildrose canyon just 20 miles away. I suspect everyone has their favorite season. Wildflowers bloom in March/April.

8. If you think it is fun to drive over Town pass with an RV, you should try it on a bicycle! Wow!

Mark
Mark,

I agree! Everything you said is right on. Anyone planning on a trip to DV must do their homework. This is vital.

Any rig attempting DV should be in top, excellent condition. I had my truck serviced before going which included a very important coolant system service (radiator flush). DV is famous as the most brutal automoblie proving/testing grounds in North America. The environment is incredibly brutal on vehicles.

All supplies must be bought before entering the park. You should have everything you need for the entire trip before entering. Coming from the west, Ridgecrest is my last supply point.

Never go off pavement with a trailer. The dirt roads are numerous but are tough with washboards and large bolders. Two miles can seem like ten. But after unhooking the trailer, it's time to play exporler.

Wow, what an idea to ride bikes down Town Pass. 20 miles of 8% downgrades with the most awesome views. What fun! Sounds like a plan next time.
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Old 01-04-2005, 06:00 PM   #7
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Wow, what an idea to ride bikes down Town Pass. 20 miles of 8% downgrades with the most awesome views. What fun! Sounds like a plan next time.
Well, I rode up too. In fact from Stovepipe wells to Lone Pine.

DO NOT TRY THIS UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. You can exceed 60 mph on the descents and there are no airbags. You must not only have good brakes, but also know when and how to use them. And when not to use them. It is quite common for a road bike to have induced shimmy at those kinds of speeds which can become uncontrollable unless you know how. A mountain bike would be somewhat more docile.

Mark
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Old 01-08-2005, 12:52 PM   #8
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Go in July or August and you will find the European tourists and most of the major auto companys and suppliers testing there. Used to go every year for confirmation of GCWR, brake and A/C testing. Highest temp I have seen there was 127f at about 3pm. A great place to look at the stars is the top of Daylight pass at midnight. If your there in July or August the auto companys usually stay in Beatty NV or Lone Pine CA. A lot of the spy photos you see in the automotive press are taken in Death Valley.
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Old 09-21-2006, 04:54 PM   #9
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Beyond the comments and suggestions made in this string (hugely helpful, thank you), any other thoughts appreciated. We are headed (from the east) to Death Valley this November (via Las Wages) and will spend Thanksgiving out there.

I expect we will probably spend 4-5 days there in Death Valley before heading back east. We have never been, so this is a first to Death Valley. We will be travelling with 4 wheel drive Excursion, a 34' AS, a 12 year old son, and a 15 pound turkey to fry on Thanksgiving!
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:09 PM   #10
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Shameless Plug...

I don't know if this helps or not (and quite frankly this is a cheap shameless plug) but you might take a look at the Death Valley Natural History Associations new web site. My wife and I are lifetime members and I have been piecing together a new site for them as they have not had a real working site for some time.
I am still populating the site with the content the association is providing me. There are some articles about some of the activities they are involvev in. It is always worth it to stop in the visitors center near Furnace Creek and check out the bookstore.

It may be of some help...
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:19 PM   #11
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I don't know if this helps or not (and quite frankly this is a cheap shameless plug) but you might take a look at the Death Valley Natural History Associations new web site. My wife and I are lifetime members and I have been piecing together a new site for them as they have not had a real working site for some time.
I am still populating the site with the content the association is providing me. There are some articles about some of the activities they are involvev in. It is always worth it to stop in the visitors center near Furnace Creek and check out the bookstore.

It may be of some help...
Well, it may be a shameless plug, but it is pretty interesting information - good call! In fact, there were several books on the web site I would have purchased, but I haven't been able to figure out how to buy them online.
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Old 09-21-2006, 09:34 PM   #12
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We live in Southern California and I had never been to DV until the fantastic flowers bloomed last year.....I ended up going 3 times last year and once this year and there is still much to see. You must get out of your car and hike some of the trails. Go first to the Visitors Center and get a schedule of the Ranger hikes and talks and go on each one. Their Rangers are some of the most enthusiastic and knowledgable Rangers in the world about their region. They all love DV and it shows. There is also a short slide show that is interesting. I am looking forward to my first trip there with an AS. I also think the route in from the southeast may not be as difficult as going over the Panamint Mts. The Rangers recommend coming after the 49ers are there until the end of May. I am a mountain person but am now hooked on DV. Have a great trip. Oh, yes, the cheapest gas is in Beatty, NV if you go to Rhyolite.
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Old 09-21-2006, 11:16 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nilesrob
Well, it may be a shameless plug, but it is pretty interesting information - good call! In fact, there were several books on the web site I would have purchased, but I haven't been able to figure out how to buy them online.
Sorry, the DVNHA is not quite ready to do online sales. But I am working on it with them. That catalog of items is an online store so if I can get them interested I can push it that one step further. As for the books, they are all available online at Amazon or other large online book sellers like that.

Better still, call the 1-800 number... ( 800.478.8564) and order the books from them. The proceeds go towards completing other association projects. So you could be helping the home team. (another shameless plug).
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Old 09-22-2006, 04:16 PM   #14
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Thanksgiving in DV...Hmmm.

You may not be the only A/S there.
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