Some Death Valley RoadTrip Planning


Taken in January 2008 at a fork in the road outside of Death Valley.

I can not believe it’s been two and a half years since I was last in the desert (other than driving through Osoyoos last summer) and even though our trip is two months away I am in mad planning mode as I map out our trip. For the first time ever I will be driving all the way to California which is somewhat daunting (particularly given our short time frame) but I’ve decided to take the interior route which takes us through the Sierras and around all the big, dodgy I-5 cities.

Here is the route I am looking at (can’t embed Google Maps here or I would) – staying overnight somewhere around Ukiah on the first night, near Battle Mountain on the second night and hoping to make it to the Panamint Springs Resort early evening on the third night. (This is not what most people would call a resort, but it’s the only place worth staying in Death Valley if you want a hot shower and don’t want to pay too much for the privelege).

From there we will have three nights of camping, four days of hiking and then two days to drive home. We’re hoping to do Telescope Peak and also I am thinking I’d like to spend the Sunday night at one of the 4×4-access only hotsprings in the park. I think I’ll dig out my Death Valley travel guide I bought two and a half years ago this weekend and start salivating. Early April also has the potential to be a great wildflower month in the desert (at higher elevations of course).

The only thing I’m not sure about is what driving that part of the interior US will be like in early April? If anyone who reads this blog knows about such things, please let me know if it will be particularly cold and/or snowy in some of the higher elevation areas. I have noticed that almost none of the rec areas are open around eastern Oregon and Nevada until May which means we will probably be rest-stop camping if we can’t find anywhere else to pull into.

Since my first trip to Anza Borego in 2005, I still find myself compulsed to spend time in deserts whenever feasible. Not often enough for my liking, but every couple of years I try to get out there. I’ve had some weird experiences in the desert, taken thousands of photos, had the experience of the world spinning around me under the great constellation of Orion, and once even channeled/hallucinated beyond Carlos Castenada’s wildest imaginings (not under the influence of drugs either). Each time I go, it’s some kind of weird adventure even though I could never imagine living away from my moist rainforest environment. So I’m psyched and a bit nervous as I plan for this trip. Only two months before we hit the road!

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