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Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

St. Louis, MO
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Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

DH (58), me (51), and DS (17) will be staying in Las Vegas for two nights and then staying at the Furnace Creek Ranch in Death Valley for two nights in mid March.

Here is my first attempt at an intinary. I welcome suggestions. A note about us: we don't have to see that much -- would rather spend more time outside walking around vs. being in our car for long periods of time (just in case that might influence what you would suggest for us). We like family friendly walks and moderate hikes, but are not hard core hikers. We do all have hiking boots, etc. DS is into photography too.

We'll leave Las Vegas around noon:

First thoughts for that partial day are to head over to Scotty's castle and take the one hour ranger guided walking tour there. Then I was thinking we'd head to Stone Pipe Village and see the Sand Dunes. After that we'd check in at the Furnace Creek Ranch and relax for the evening swimming / maybe a little tennis or an interpretive ranger program if one is offered.

Next we have our one and only full day at the park:

Thoughts:

1) Stop at the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center (see little movie etc.)

2) Do a little drive stopping at Devil's Golf Course, Badwater, then do Artist's Drive, finishing up at Zasbraske Point.

3) Next do a family friendly hike. I was thinking of heading back over to the Stone Pipe Village area and doing a moderate Mosaic Canyon hike. I hear it's about 2.5 miles with long narrow walls and some shade.

After that we'd return to our resort // maybe participate in a ranger program if there is something in the evening / relax at our resort.

Next Day -- All we'll do is get up, check out, and drive back to Las Vegas for a late afternoon flight home.

I welcome your thoughts, opinons, suggestions

Encinitas...
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1. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

If you want to see Scottys Castle on day 1, you should get out of Vegas way before noon.

Depending on your route thats about 3-31/2 hours from Vegas. You could come in thru Beatty (about 21/4 hours from Vegas) see Rhyolite ghost town, the drive over to the castle.

You could head further up 95 to Scottys Junction and come in the back way to the castle.Not as scenic.

If you leave at noon, an alternative is maybe head thru Pahrump and see Dantes View and Zabriskie Point on that day on the way to Furnace Creek, Then the next day, when you have a full day, head up to the castle and the crater.

St. Louis, MO
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2. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

Thanks. I didn't realize that the castle was so far away from Las Vegas. These parks are so huge, and it's easy for me to think things are a lot closer to each other than they are.

Encinitas...
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3. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

This might help you a little with the routes and distance from Vegas.

nps.gov/deva/…20Vegas.pdf

St. Louis, MO
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4. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

Thank you for the link.

What I'm thinking is still go see Scotty's castle on that first day, but leave Las Vegas at 9 a.m. instead of noon. That would keep the one our tour there and our hike on different days, give us a little more time in Death Valley, but not up the number of nights we stay.

Also, give the pretty general attractions we're doing, do you think a regular compact rental car would be fine or should I spend the extra money to rent an SUV (not to go off road, but just because a high clearance vehicle would be better for in the park.) Let me know your thoughts. // I know in Sedona just to get to trail heads I like to rent an SUV.

San Francisco
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5. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

If you want to see Rhyolite, you can make it a side trip after the Castle even if you don't enter the park on Hwy 95. As dez said, 95 is less scenic. It's 100 miles from Las Vegas to Beatty, and the longer you spend on 95, the more of the scenic landscapes inside DV you miss.

Rhyolite is a detour of about 35 miles as you go back down the Castle Highway toward Furnace Creek (total of about 70 added miles--and if you think you'll need gas, continue east 5 more miles to Beatty where you'll probably pay a dollar less than at Furnace Creek).

Mid-March is a peak visitor season, so go to the Castle first, in case you have to wait to get on a tour. Tours run until 5:00 p.m. and the grounds are open until 6:00, but you don't want to drive all that way and be just in time to miss the last tour. If your trip is after DST starts, sunset will be close to 7:00 p.m. so you'll have time to do other things in the early evening.

Another place you can go after the Castle and before Rhyolite (or to fill in time if you end up having to wait an hour or more for a Castle tour) is Ubehebe Crater, a volcanic crater a few miles west of the Castle Road. The turnoff is marked and the road is paved.

Everything you mentioned that you want to see is accessible with a regular car. A few side roads are graded gravel or hard clay (Devil's Golf Course, 20 Mule Team Canyon, Mosaic Canyon, the west end of Titus Canyon, and a couple others), but they are maintained regularly. Any car driven carefully will be fine; just take it easy to avoid flat tires.

Sunset anywhere in DV is gorgeous. If you're in Rhyolite, enjoy it there, and you can tell your friends you saw the sun go down and night fall in a ghost town! If you are back in the Furnace Creek area by then, Zabriskie Point is nearby and faces west toward the Panamint range for a beautiful view. If you just happen to be out and about, stop and enjoy it wherever you are; there are no bad views or boring sunsets in Death Valley. :)

San Francisco
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6. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

Mosaic Canyon is a great hike for people in any condition. The road to it is graded gravel, a little over 2 miles long. Any car is fine; just go easy to protect your tires. The hike is what I call ad lib, any length you want it to be. It can be a relaxing stroll, an easy hike, or a moderate climb. The canyon is named for the broken rock surfaces (breccia in geologist-speak) that look like mosaics, and there are polished white walls resembling marble. Both of these features come from water erosion; rain that falls high up in canyons rushes down and carves the rock into unique and interesting shapes and textures.

You can keep going up until you get to the top of Tucki Mountain. There’s a lot of interesting stuff up there, including old mines and mining camp remains as well as rock formations. I’ve been up there but not by climbing up Mosaic Canyon.

Mosaic Canyon runs north-south, unlike most canyons which run off the main body of Death Valley and are therefore east-west. This means Mosaic Canyon gets direct sun into it for only a few hours a day, and has more shade in the morning and afternoon. It also means that the best lighting is in the 3-4 hours before and 3-4 hours after the sun is at its peak. There have been times I’ve been there in late afternoon and it actually felt cold because the sun was far down below the canyon rim. OTOH, it’s pleasant on a hot day, and the “marble” walls always feel cool.

St. Louis, MO
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7. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

Thanks for the all tips Frisco_roadrunner. We'll definately see the castle first, consider the crater/more scenic drive/ghost town. Glad to hear a compact car will be fine. Your posts have me really excited about the mini visit we'll be doing here. Sound too like Mosaic Canyon will be a good choice for us hike wise / really sounds interesting.

8. Re: Attempt 1 at Mini Death Valley Trip itinary - your thoughts?

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