addressalign-toparrow-leftarrow-rightbackbellblockcalendarcameraccwcheckchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-small-downchevron-small-leftchevron-small-rightchevron-small-upchevron-upcircle-with-checkcircle-with-crosscircle-with-pluscrossdots-three-verticaleditemptyheartexporteye-with-lineeyefacebookfolderfullheartglobegmailgooglegroupshelp-with-circleimageimagesinstagramlinklocation-pinm-swarmSearchmailmessagesminusmoremuplabelShape 3 + Rectangle 1ShapeoutlookpersonJoin Group on CardStartprice-ribbonShapeShapeShapeShapeImported LayersImported LayersImported Layersshieldstartickettrashtriangle-downtriangle-uptwitteruserwarningyahoo

Death Valley "Road Trip" and hikes (4-5 days)

Time for our 4th annual Death Valley New Years road trip (see reviews/photos from 2009 or 2010 or 2011). This trip has a few short hikes each day, but also plenty of driving each day to get to our destinations (Death Valley is a big place). For most folks this will be a five day trip, but some people may want to leave on the 31st to get home to a party, which is also OK.

Important: Meet on our first hiking day, Saturday, at our campsites in Texas Spring, at 9:00 AM. If you are staying at Furnace Creek, we'll have a sign at the entrance to Texas Spring identifying our campsites, but likely they will be in the upper, far left side, in the campsites[masked] range.

Here's the tentative plan:

  • Thurs Dec 27 (optional): Camp at Red Rock Canyon State Park (about 360 miles, six-seven hours from the Bay Area, and 160 miles short of Death Valley). [Katie and I will definitely make this stop --Lee]
  • Fri Dec 28: Leave the Bay Area early, arriving at Death Valley late afternoon/early evening. People can either camp (Texas Spring) or stay in a hotel ( Furnace Creek Ranch).
  • Sat Dec 29: Morning: Mosaic Canyon (easy hiking, but some "butt-scooting" along slippery rocks). Lunch on the road (can pick up food at Stovepipe Wells). Afternoon: Sand dunes, Devils Cornfield, Historic Stovepipe wells (hike into dunes, others sites are car accessible).
  • Sun Dec 30: Morning: Historic dune at Beatty Junction (brief car stop), followed by drive to Ubehebe Crater, short hike in that area. Lunch on the road. Afternoon: Scottie's Castle (ticketed) Tour, short hike in the area.
  • Mon Dec 31: Morning: Artists Canyon, Ventifact Ridge, Badwater. Lunch on the road. Afternoon: Open. Perhaps a hike up Willow Canyon to see the waterfalls (or maybe a hike down the canyon from the top. Evening: Dinner at Furnace Creek Ranch restaurant for those who desire.
  • Tues Jan 1: Drive home. This group may decide to travel to hot springs on the way home, or other trip-lengthening detours, but that's up to those in each car/carpool (and depends on the amount of snow in the mountains, which can make the duration of this drive essentially impossible to do in a day).

Details:

At nights, we'll be staying in the Furnace Creek area, which has both camping (it will be cold at night) and motel rooms at the Furnace Creek Ranch (Furnace Creek Inn is just down the street for those who want more luxury). Each morning we'll carpool to our hikes--we'll aim for a moderate hiking pace, but leave no one behind--this is a hiking group, so I'll assume everyone understands that this is not just car-touring. I'll be posting some files (camping, park map, etc.) below for people to look at, or you can visit the Death Valley National Park web site.

Map: Here's a Google map showing the camping/hotel area, as well as some hikes we may make: http://tinyurl.com/deathvalleygeologyhike

Hikes: Hikes are always tentative: Road conditions, number of 4WD's available, etc. may change our plans. We may decide on longer hikes, or multiple shorter hikes, driving between them (there are many 1-2 hour hikes in the park). If we have cars with "high clearance," we can get down a few roads that are a bit too bumpy for most cars (I just bought a 4WD that fits four comfortably); but we'll probably [i]not[/i] go down 4-wheel drive roads (unless everyone has 4WD, and even then we'll likely avoid the really rough ones).

Camping: Camp sites hold up to 8 people and 2 cars--some are "pull through" others are "walk-in, tent only". Last two years we stayed in Texas Spring, which is nicer than Furnace Creek--but right near it. Texas Spring has water, sinks, and flush toilets, but no showers. Furnace Creek Ranch offers shower and pool access for $5/day. Camping is first-come, first served (non-reservable), so we'll ask the first person to arrive to reserve two campsites (probably some of us staying at Red Rock Canyon can reserve good spaces--then all campers will reimburse a portion of the fees). If, for some reason, we get there too late and can't get a reservation, Furnace Creek has 135 sites and won't sell out, so we won't be left without a site. Bring a sturdy tent: Last year in a daytime windstorm several tents got blown around.

Motel: If you want to stay in the Furnace Creek Ranch or the FC Inn (a pricier resort, also in the area), make your own reservations now Furnace Creek does sell out! If you want to share a room, leave a comment below stating your desires/preferences. Other alternative: Stovepipe Wells Village is a bit less expensive, and only about 30 miles from Furnace Creek area. Another much less expensive motel option is to stay in Beatty, Nevada. This is about 45 miles away (in 2009 a couple people stayed here), but the roads are mostly straight, but you do pass through a mountain pass. Google Maps estimates the drive at 1 hour 13 minutes, which I suspect is a bit longer than needed.

Food: We'll work out the details on food in early December, but plan on having at least your own lunches that you can take with you on hikes (we may coordinate breakfasts and dinners, for those who are interested-, but everyone is welcome to just bring their own). There is a restaurant at Furnace Creek for those inclined to dine in.

Weather: Cold at nights; may have some rain but not likely too much. http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/weather.htm Regardless, be ready for cold, and be ready for rain.

Cost: Each participant will be responsible for:

  • their own transportation cost, or helping with gas if they carpool
  • camping ($18/site/night) or motel (2 queen=$169/night)
  • entrance fee ($20/car)
  • their own food (some may be shared).
  • $5 contribution from each person for this trip (total, not per day). You must pay to RSVP, and this is non-refundable--so only sign up when you know you can go. This trip doesn't "fill up."

Cell phone reception: Is getting better, although most coverage maps I've seen show a big dead spot in Death Valley. In 2011 most of us could make calls/text messages from Texas Spring/Furnace Creek, but there are no guarantees how good it will be. Hopefully it's improving every year.

Notes:

  • I love Racetrack Playa, but we've done it three years in a row, and will likely skip it this year.
  • Please don't RSVP until you know you can make it. The trip won't fill up, so you don't have to worry about beating others to get a space.
  • I may add other notes here as I think of them

Other links

  • Road conditions (all are fine now, but we'll want to check this before we leave just in case there are any washouts or other closures).
  • Hikes in Death Valley From Trails.com: Rhyolite, Nevada Rhyolite is an eerie-looking ghost town set in the barren desert of western Nevada. In 1904, gold was found in the nearby hills, and Rhyolite boomed and busted in 1910. This famously photographed ghost town is a National Historic Site and has been featured in many western films. Rhyolite makes a great day trip from either Las Vegas or Death Valley National Park, and visitors can tour several remains of the boom days, including the old train depot, bank, jail and the Bottle House, which was fully restored for Paramount Pictures' film "The Air Mail." Read more at Trails.com: Ghosts of Christmas Past: Ghost Towns to Visit this Winter | Trails.com.

Join or login to comment.

  • Lana

    This was the third time to Death Valley for me. Loved the trip: spectacular scenery, good people, camp fires, and hikes!

    January 16, 2013

  • Madhan

    Dear all - thanks for the wonderful 3-4 days spent at the Death Valley Park - special thanks to Rick for tips on putting up the tent, Cynthia for the ride to the Willow waterfalls trailhead and Cynthia, Julie and Lana for the interesting conversations, Katie and Lee for getting the introductions done on the first day.

    Btw, I stayed at the southern edge of the park one more night and on the way back to Vegas (and to Houston), I saved the lives of two bikers/triathletes freezing on a lone / desolate stretch of road - one of them was in bad shape coz of the almost freezing temperature - thus made two new friends in the process ! what better way to ring in the New Year!

    3 · January 7, 2013

  • Cynthia

    The trip was a great intro to Death Valley, hitting most of the park's featured highlights and included at least one moderate hike a day.

    1 · January 6, 2013

  • Cynthia

    I loved the whole trip but especially the hikes into Mosaic Canyon and Willow Waterfalls, the snow flurries at Racetrack/Grandstand, New Year's Eve by the campfire (complete with UFO!) and meeting some REALLY NICE people. Thanks Lee and Katie for all the organizing and also for the tip to drive 40 mph over the washboard roads to Racetrack (Nice and fun drive). I had a sore throat driving home and now (5 days later) am just getting back my voice. Hope to see y'all again soon!

    3 · January 6, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Awesome start of new year...my first trip to Death Valley is ever memorable due to you all and meticulous organization by Lee & Katie....Posted some snaps, enjoy and see you next time....

    2 · January 6, 2013

  • Linell

    Thank you Lee and Katie for a memorable new year trip to such a magnificent place. So many textures and patterns, temperatures and moonlit nights to enjoy. Hope you are both feeling better!

    2 · January 5, 2013

  • Vanessa N

    Awesome sightseeing and great group. Fun times!

    January 3, 2013

  • Lee T.

    As usual, an amazing group of people (they even were able to get themselves around the two days I was down with a bad sore throat!).

    January 2, 2013

  • Lee T.

    Thanks again, everyone, for attending and putting up with my sore throat :-) I had a great time meeting so many of you, and reconnecting with others who have attended before.

    January 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Great trip!

    1 · January 2, 2013

  • gayle

    I had a great time altho I did not hike with ya all, I enjoyed the evenings very much. I guess I will have to go back yet, AGAIN, to see the Crater & Scotty's Castle and collect some fossils (outside the park). Thank you Lee & Katie!! Happy New Year.

    1 · January 2, 2013

  • Maureen T

    really wonderful trip! thanks Lee for all your hard work.

    1 · January 2, 2013

  • Lan

    Mesmerizing Mosaic Canyon, playful sand dunes, breathtaking view from Dante's, memorably steep climb at Ubehebe, surreal snow fall at Racetrack, informative geology hike, lowest Badwater, treasure hunt for waterfall at the end of a "rocky road", gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, silvery moonlight, starry skies (+ UFO), bonfire chats, dish-washing parties, and of course, cheers to a fantastic 2013! Thank you, Everyone!!

    4 · January 1, 2013

  • Rick

    I loved the hiking, the driving, and all the scenery!

    1 · January 1, 2013

  • Digne

    Racetrack and Grandstand were fantastic; climbing out of Ubehebe crater is a once-in-a-lifetime experience; Eureka Mine and abandoned house should be on next year's schedule; New Year's eve dinner and conga line were fun. What happens in DV stays in DV ;-)

    2 · January 1, 2013

  • michael k.

    Fantastic!

    1 · January 1, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Hooray, Julie/Lana/Lan/Prakash are on our way to Death Valley...

    1 · December 28, 2012

  • gayle

    So no plans for pooling dinners? Everyone is on their own I assume?

    December 27, 2012

  • Madhan

    am visiting Death Valley park this weekend - since rsvps are closed, can I join you guys on hiking trips this weekend ?

    December 26, 2012

    • Katie

      Hi again. If you haven't camped much you may want to stay at a hotel. It will be very cold at night (mid 30s) so staying warm is critical. If you decide to try it anyway, I suggest you seek advice at REI; they are very knowledgeable.

      December 27, 2012

    • Madhan

      am planning on getting all material from REI incl a 30F or less sleeping bag etc - have to get the experience at least once

      December 27, 2012

  • Cynthia

    Adventure time!!!! See y'all tomorrow night! Woohoo!!!!!

    December 27, 2012

  • Madhan

    and btw I am in Vegas now - let me know if I can either carpool with someone or I can rent a car and if there is anyone from the Vegas area they may carpool with me

    December 26, 2012

    • Katie

      I think at one point there was someone who was thinking of driving from Vegas, but I'm pretty sure she dropped out. Sorry about that. Hopefully you can rent a car. Most everyone is coming from the San Francisco Bay Area. Good luck!

      December 26, 2012

  • Vanessa N

    Anyone has carpool spot for one person leaving from the Bay?

    December 26, 2012

  • Lan

    The website says there is water at the campsite; does anyone know if the water is potable or just for general use? It would be helpful to know how much drinking water to bring. Thanks!

    December 25, 2012

    • Rick

      December 25, 2012

    • Rick

      Potable Water
      Water is available at all park communities, visitor centers, contact stations and museums. It is available at most campgrounds with some exceptions. See the campground page for more information.

      December 25, 2012

  • Vanessa N

    Anyone got spots for Carpooling from the Bay?

    December 24, 2012

  • linda S

    Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

    Does any of you need a room at Furnace Creek? I have committed to sharing a room with Julie but I may not be able to go. I had hurt my foot three weeks ago and it's not healed completely. I saw my doctor today and he recommends no more than an hour of light hiking a day. I was still going to go just to be there and hike as much as my foot can bear, but I just found out my carpool didn't work out. Please let me know if you can use a room. Julie have to approve the switch and it must be female. You will be paying 1/2 of the share. Thank you.

    December 24, 2012

  • Vanessa N

    Jill! Do you still have spots left in your car for carpooling? Nelson and I are happy to chip in for gas and can Bart to Berkeley for your convenience. :-)

    December 23, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    People staying at the ranch: please add your last name to the Google Doc so we can connect when we arrive. This is my first Death Valley trip. Aside from the information posted on the event page, any tips on things I might forget to pack? (Sunscreen and wine are already in the bag...)

    December 22, 2012

    • linda S

      Flash light, Cliff bars or something similar for snack while hiking (nuts are good too), always good to pack matches and Swiss knife, lip balm with sunscreen (very dry in the desert), layers of light clothing, wind breaker, Gortex covering (flash flooding can happen) and I always have a small towel or bandanas in my back pack.

      December 22, 2012

    • michael k.

      Don't forget to bring firewood for the campfires at night!

      December 23, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    I am very much interested in joining you all:) any place in camp sites?

    December 9, 2012

    • Lee T.

      Hi Gayle. Katie (my wife) is helping out with organizing. I just sent you a link via email to the Google document.

      December 21, 2012

    • gayle

      Thanks Lee. I thought maybe we had a new organizer, it's been a while since i've been in touch. hope to see you soon.... Gayle thx again for organizing, you all do a great job!

      December 21, 2012

  • Lana

    I would like it if we went to Racetrack Playa as I have never been there before. Anybody else?

    September 10, 2012

    • gayle

      I want to go to the racetrack as well. I do not hve a 4-wd, however....

      December 21, 2012

    • Lee T.

      The drive to Racetrack doesn't require a 4WD, although it is washboard and one short section is fairly rocky. I have done it in just a Saturn wagon.

      December 21, 2012

  • Gordon

    If anybody is interested in splitting from the main group and doing some longer and more difficult hikes, let me know. (Lee is OK with this.) I will be doing this and am looking at possible hikes, but where I go will depend on whether I am hiking solo or with other people. (Canyon hikes that involve climbing waterfalls sound like a bad idea if I am alone.)

    December 12, 2012

    • Payal

      Sure I'm always up for a long hike.

      December 20, 2012

    • gayle

      I have never been to the racetrack if your interested in that. I don't know if it is a hike or a drive or both...Gayle

      December 21, 2012

  • Lee T.

    Carpoolers: Everyone who signed up should have received an email with a link to a Google document with more information, including the a section with more details about carpooling--you can leave more specific information about your carpool desires there, as well as better contact information (e.g. phone number) that may make creating carpools easier.

    November 26, 2012

    • A former member
      A former member

      Lee, I did not receive the link as well, could you please send it to me again, and I need a spot as well in camp if available....

      December 9, 2012

    • gayle

      I did not receive a link to a Google doc either? Gayle

      December 21, 2012

  • Alana S.

    Anyone arriving Thursday night? or Friday morning? I'm hoping to drive up to Zabriskie point and do some photography on Friday, maybe some hiking from there.

    1 · December 21, 2012

  • sarah

    is anyone coming from la? i would love to go but will be with family in LA and dont want to come back up to go back down?

    November 18, 2012

    • linda S

      will you be driving from L.A.? If so, I will fly to L.A. then carpool with you from L.A. to DV and back to Bay Area. Please let me know ASAP so I can purchase tickets. Thanks.

      December 10, 2012

    • sarah

      no, i would need a ride from LA. but it looks like i won't be able to make the trip after all. thanks anyway.

      December 10, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Plans have changed and I now have room for two riders. Leaving early Friday from Oakland.
    [masked]

    December 8, 2012

  • Lana

    Lee, Dah, what do I do with the goggle document after I add my info?

    December 6, 2012

    • Lana

      I see, it updates on the site.

      December 6, 2012

    • Katie

      Lana - once you enter something on a google doc it automatically saves.

      December 6, 2012

  • Gordon

    Lee, on the map you link to you mention Titus Canyon as a possibility. I definitely want to do that - my vehicle has high clearance although not 4 wheel drive. Not too worried, the one time I've been on that road it was in a boat of a sedan.

    December 5, 2012

    • Lee T.

      Gordon, I don't think we'll do Titus Canyon this year. I added many destinations on the map, as I use it every year. Check the description above for our planned itinerary (we did it last year--the road had been closed for a couple years--and it was a great trip).

      December 6, 2012

  • Pilar

    I would like to join but before RSVP I want to make sure I'll get a ride. I'm in east bay (Hayward) and will share expenses. If someone is driving and have a spot open please let me know. I'll really appreciate it. Thanks!

    October 25, 2012

    • Payal

      Hi Pilar, I can give you a ride. I'll leave on Fri from SF and can swing by to collect you. Email me...

      December 6, 2012

  • Payal

    Does anyone want to share an already reserved room at any of the non-camping lodging? I really want to go on this trip but Stovepipe and both Furnace Creek Inn and Ranch are full. I'd love to share a room with one or more people if anyone has a spot in their room.

    December 6, 2012

  • Alana S.

    I'm confused--is our first hiking day Friday the 28th as it says on the top of this page--or is it Saturday the 29th as it says on the Google page? I'd like to hike on the 28th if anyone else will be there.

    November 26, 2012

    • Lee T.

      Alana, since most people are coming from the SF area with a LONG drive, the first day of organized hikes is the 29th. If others arrive early on the 28th, you're welcome to create your own hikes, although I'd avoid taking the ones we'll do the next days :-)

      November 26, 2012

  • Alana S.

    Looks like I'll be arriving on Thursday night. Anyone else wanting to camp there and share a site? I haven't reserved one yet. Also, I'll be driving in from Las Vegas on Thursday. Ride sharing, anyone?

    November 26, 2012

    • Lee T.

      Alana, if you can, grab a site in the lower section with a couple next to it. If the lower section looks booked up, you may want to grab three in the upper section (I found the best ones are on the far left as you enter the upper section--there are usually several next to each other). If you pay for three sites on Thursday, we'll split the cost with all those who camp--this way we're all close to each other for campfires, etc.

      November 26, 2012

    • Lee T.

      PS. The campsites at Texas Spring are not reservable in advance, just when you get there.

      November 26, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Am in city, looking for carpool too

    November 26, 2012

  • Vanessa N

    Will a carpool list be available to better plan for this trip soon?

    November 21, 2012

  • Gordon

    I might leave on the 26th and go to Eureka Valley for a couple of nights before the main trip. Anyone interested in carpooling? I could take one or two people who don't mind a dry camp near the most spectacular dunes in California.

    November 20, 2012

  • Cynthia

    Hi! I'm up for adventure on my first trip to Death Valley. I'd like to carpool and can leave Friday morning (maybe Thursday) from San Ramon or Concord. Please email [masked] if you're interested in carpooling. Cheers!

    November 16, 2012

  • Louise

    Can someone tell me what level the hiking will be? Typical length of hikes and elevation change, if any. First time in DV. Thanks Louise

    October 20, 2012

    • Lee T.

      Hi Louise. Hikes tend to be 2-5 miles. Usually one in morning and one in afternoon, although attendance is flexible. Some people decide just to do a morning hike on some days.

      1 · October 20, 2012

    • Digne

      The hikes are fine. The key to enjoying them is getting a good nights sleep.

      1 · October 22, 2012

  • Lana

    Yes I would be interested in a ride, except, is that what you really look like? I live in Oakland.

    October 20, 2012

  • Louise

    I'd like to sign up for one of those seats in the 4WD and go to Racetrack. Never been.

    October 19, 2012

  • Digne

    One of the few times of the year I go swimming is when I go to Death Valley over New Years ;)

    September 29, 2012

  • Raj

    just commenting as fyi..very likely to join this trip..subject to wifey 's leave and tantrums :)

    September 6, 2012

    • Katie

      Rajan - I think you need to bring "wifey" with you! I'd like to meet her.

      1 · September 6, 2012

    • Raj

      Yes definitely Katie...It is she only who might have issues with her leaves..i am ready to roll in Death Valley :)

      September 6, 2012

  • Rick

    I've participated in geology field trips to Death Valley about 4 times since 1999 and would love to join you guys on this one. I would be driving down from Santa Rosa. Is there anyone I could carpool with or who would like to carpool with me who's one the way?

    September 3, 2012

22 went

Your organizer's refund policy for Death Valley "Road Trip" and hikes (4-5 days)

Refunds are not offered for this Meetup.

People in this
Meetup are also in:

Sign up

Meetup members, Log in

By clicking "Sign up" or "Sign up using Facebook", you confirm that you accept our Terms of Service & Privacy Policy