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Old 02-20-2021, 11:28 PM   #1
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getting to Death Valley

we are taking our 19ft AS to Dealth Valley next month We are coming from the SF Bay Area and wondering was is the best route into the park. It looks like 178 from Ridgecrest is a fairly straight route, so assuming that's the best way.

any input is appreciated.

Oh, you have any favorite boondocking spots in DV, let me know also. We are staying at Furnace Creek CG for 2 days, then plan to boondock.
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:55 AM   #2
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FYI -- Here are some older threads/posts, as the roads in are probably pretty much the same:

https://www.google.com/search?q=Deat...=airforums.com

Have a great trip.
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:29 AM   #3
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We love DV. We usually take 99S to 58E to 15E then up 127 toward Tecopa. Then into DV via 127. Tecopa has a very nice hot spring and camp grounds. There is dispersed camping on BLM land near by Tecopa. Get a USGS topo from Menlo Park office or on line. Stove Pipe Wells has good water and $$$ fuel. Not sure if Mesquite Springs camp ground has re-opened yet. It is a favorite no amenities out of the way spot for us. Ohhh, The sky at night! Beautiful!!! Mesquite Springs had good water but check before you go. Scotties Castle and that area was flash flooded out a few years ago also and I don't know if it has re-opened. But very cool spot.

P.S. if you decide to go to the "Race Track" have good tires and 2 good spares. (long story) I was warned by our camp host. "That road to the Race Track has super sharp gravels". I have driven gravel roads all my life! I had decent tires (good tread) on the truck (load range D) and 1 good spare. I went anyway. Got 2 flats before I could get back to camp. Towing service from there comes all the way from Lone Pine and will coast $$$$ even with AAA. We bummed a ride with the camp host next day to a tire repair shop in NV. Now I roll on Michelin load range E, and 2 spares. Sorry, I digress. Just "be prepared" for a great adventure!

-Dennis
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Old 02-21-2021, 07:56 AM   #4
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Your racetrack story is spot on. Driven there twice. Didn't get any flats but substantially shortened the tire life on my SUV. Good sized chunks of rubber (dime ar smaller sized) cut from every tire. Each time we ran into people with flats or a busted oil pan. If they still rent Jeeps at Furnace Creek, that's they way to go.

The only RV boondocking I've seen in Death Valley is up rough gravely washes. You have to camp at least a mile from a road. Those gravel/rock roads are pretty rough. Expect scratches and difficulty turning around.
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:14 AM   #5
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I would not go in via 178 and Ridgecrest/Trona. After Trona the road is unpaved if you go north up the Panamint Valley and is not in good shape in Wildrose Canyon. And even if you do drive through gravel either way you’ll wind up on steep mountain roads. Go the long way around up 127 through Shoshone to Death Valley Junction and then take the easy road down into Furnace Creek.
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Old 02-21-2021, 09:44 AM   #6
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So the consensus is not to take 178 into DV? The images I've been able to pull up from the area show a paved road. The route via 15 to 127 seems to take you a bit farther south. But I trust the group here if they say to avoid 178 past Trona.
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Old 02-21-2021, 10:22 AM   #7
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come over 80 E to Reno, then head so on 395. You'll by Mono Lake, and take in famous ghost town Bodie. Only 30 minutes off 395. Going thru Bishop be sure to stop at
Schaat Bakery for squaw break, lavosh cracker bread and other fab stuff. Keep going and turn east to Bristlecone State Park. Home of the OLDEST trees in the world. There's an easy 2 mile trail taking you past these incredible trees and you can "drycamp" near there.
Continue easterly and hit 95, then head south to Death Valley cutoff. Take plenty of $$$ and keep expectations low for Death Valley.
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:10 AM   #8
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178 might look paved in the Panamint Valley, but unless they did it in the last year or so, it's not. Plus, the road over Towne's Pass (198) is very twisty and steep.
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Old 02-21-2021, 11:33 AM   #9
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That's odd. I drove 178 from 190 south past Trona to Ridgecrest and it was paved the whole way, about 5 years ago. Its a state highway and those roads are expected to be paved.

Check the Caltrans road conditions link below for current info.

"Division of Traffic Operations - Road Information - California Highway Information" https://roads.dot.ca.gov
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Old 02-21-2021, 12:33 PM   #10
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We go to DV every year. Ridgecrest to Trona to Panamint is our preferred route. If you end up on a dirt road to Wildrose Canyon you went straight ahead at the fork instead of bearing left toward Panamint Springs. The road is 100% paved.

The grade out of Panamint is 10% for 10 miles. Pretty good pull but my Duramax handles it well with my 30' AI. Coming out this way? Take your time, use lower gears and trailer brakes.
We love DV. The vistas are beautiful. Be mindful of small pets if you have them. Coyotes have come into my camp with us at the campfire.
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:40 PM   #11
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ok so 178 into the park sounds like the plan. we went up monitor pass which is about 9 perrcent grade. the Jeep GJ handled it fine..
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Old 02-21-2021, 01:46 PM   #12
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Going in from the West to Stovepipe Wells, etc is a steep and windy road --
Going in from the East (thru Death Valley Junction) is less steep and pretty straight -- a nice way in really.
The campground across the street from Furnace Creek (Sunset Campground) is better than boondocking in that area as it is still within the Valley (no commuting to visit)
Lots of spaces and usually not crowded, has flush toilets and outdoor dishwashing stations -- a Dump Site with potable water
full price is $14.00 per night, but with the Golden Pass or whatever you call it, it is only $7 per night!!
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Old 02-21-2021, 02:22 PM   #13
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If Greenflag can handle it in his 30, I think we can do it in our 19
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:03 PM   #14
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Perhaps kscherzi and greenflag have more up-to-date info than I have. Good luck on your trip!
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Old 02-21-2021, 08:07 PM   #15
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Route to Death Valley

Beware route connecting 395 and Furnace Creek. There are two SERIOUS grades, ups and downs, ups and downs. I’m talking 10%+ and the road is narrow and windy.
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Old 02-22-2021, 02:12 PM   #16
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We are not going into the park from that way.. We are driving over Tehachapi pass and out via Trona on 178 to 190 to Furnace Creek. from what I tell, it's paved and doable with a 19ft AS. If I'm wrong, please correct me.
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Old 02-22-2021, 05:16 PM   #17
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5/58/14/178/190 and 5/58/15/127 are almost identical in distance to DVJ. The former will be more scenic but will take longer when towing. I prefer the later these days.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:28 PM   #18
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Coming from the west you'll still have to crest Towne Pass. Its unavoidable. The grade uphill is about 10%, the grade downhill reaches 8% for about 16 miles. Always down, never up, even a little bit. Towne pass is about 5,000 feet, the valley is below sea level.

I badly warped the brake rotors on my minivan towing a popup the first time going down, didn't keep it in a low gear. It was amazing how quicky it got to 60 mph. Towing the Airstream I put the truck in the lowest gear possible, letting it rev at 5,000+ rpm while pumping the brakes, keeping the rig at about 30 mph.
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Old 02-22-2021, 06:34 PM   #19
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why do you prefer the later route (15)?
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Old 02-23-2021, 07:32 AM   #20
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Death Valley is a north/south valley, bounded on both sides by tall steep mountains. The Amargosa Range on the east and the Panamint Range on the west. Route 127 off I-15 enters Death Valley from the south, thus avoiding the worst of the grades. Its an easier tow, but not as scenic.

Either way I suggest gassing up in Ridgecrest (coming from the west), or at the intersection of I-15/127 from the south before heading to Death Valley. Gas is available at Furnace Creek but its quite expensive.
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