We headed out of Bakersfield on our journey to Death Valley. Our original planned route had been through the Kern Valley but the recent snow had resulted in a ‘snow chains’ requirement for the valley.
Therefore we took an alternative route along Interstate 58 which itself had been restricted usage due to snowfall the day before but was now fully re-opened.
Views of the Tehachapi Mountains along I58
A train passes alongside the road.
There was still some snow evidence at the side of the road but the roads were completely clear – we were very grateful of this as we were now in the RV not our own 4x4 car.
A small hillside windfarm.
Eventually we descent the mountains to the town of Mojave and the high desert, where we head north on Highways 14 and 365.
This route takes us past Red Rock Canyon State Park.
Once north of Mojave the roads were very quiet.
David captured this image from the passenger seat – the view ahead and behind.
The South end of the Sequoia National Park.
More views of Sequoia National Park. The entrances to this park from Hwy 395 were all closed due to snow but we still got good views of the edge of the park on the way north on the highway. Tucked in here somewhere (we didn’t figure out which one) was the peak of Mt Whitney, which at over 14,505ft is the highest point in the contiguous United States and is only two miles from us here in the town of Lone Pine, yet an elevation over 10,000ft higher.
We stopped in the town of Lone Pine to re-fuel and got these views of the Inyo Mountains to the East.
After completing my loan application to enable us to afford to fill up the RV at the gas station (heaven only knows how much this would cost in the UK) I wasn’t sure I still had a seat when returning to the van…
Err, no I didn’t. This actually turned out to be Mojos favourite seat, given the opportunity.
Once again there were virtually no other cars on the road, we were grateful we didn’t breakdown as we also didn’t have cellphone coverage for…….the next 3 days !
We climb up over the Argus Range, which in an RV is either slow or noisy (doing the job in 2nd gear with the engine working at about 4,000rpm). Your choice.
Views from the Argus Range across to the Panamint Range on the opposite side of the valley.
Views across the Panamint Valley.
Sections of the road cut through the rock.
There were a few sharp bends with steep drops.
And plenty of narrow sections, in an RV we were pleased the roads were quiet.
However, what goes up must come down.
Looking across the Panamint Valley
Once crossing the Panamint Valley we start the ascent over the Panamint Range.
Eventually we cross Towne Pass at 4,956ft.
Then we start our descent into Death Valley.
Views from Stovepipe Wells Village where we stopped to check out the RV Park and purchase a parks pass.
More views around the park.
We decided to stay at the Furnace Creek Ranch which has a few RV spaces amongst it’s staff accommodation.
The village of Furnace Creek is 190ft below sea level.
Views from Furnace Creek Ranch.
We visited the Visitors Centre and used their Wifi to keep in touch.
More views around the park.
Mojo posing in Death Valley.
We spot a coyote…….at some distance by the time we have the camera ready. It is in the centre of the photo, below left of the white building.
Despite being in an RV, David still turns out tenderloin steak & salad.
Unfortunately the remainder of our stay in Death Valley was cloudy and daytime temperatures were only around 12c, well below the average for this time of year.
We visited Badwater, which is the lowest place in the contiguous United States at 282ft below sea level. It is also only 76 miles from Mt Whitney we had passed previously, and the highest point.
The salt flats at Badwater.
Reflections in the pool at Badwater.
Salt crystals forming.
We took a hike at Golden Canyon. Some of this site was used in the filming of the original Star Wars movie.
If you are a Star Wars geek like me (David that is) you will remember this scenery from when R2D2 is captured by the Jawas and also when Luke Skywalker first meets Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Judland wastes of Tatooine after being attacked by the sand people. See the clips below for a reminder.
Our space at the Furnace Creek Ranch RV park was shared with many RVs and trailers lived in by staff at the resort. This one was well decked out ready for Christmas.
That evening, Furnace Creek Ranch became fully decorated for the holiday season.
After our stay in Death Valley, we head across the Mojave desert to the metro Palm Springs suburb of La Quinta.