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Old 02-15-2020, 04:37 PM   #1
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Death Valley from the West

Hi all,

I'm planning a trip to Death Valley next week, and I'm getting some mixed info on routes.

CoPilot GPS tells me to take US 395 to Ca 190 East, but park info says vehicles towing trailers may consider entering the park from the East.

I'm not concerned about a steep grade at that elevation. My only concern is if the road might be too narrow for my MH and toad which is about 48-50'.

I'm guessing the NPS info goes back to the days when carburated engines struggled at that elevation. I know the old Dodge 440 we had would have struggled towing, but the V10 is not a concern for me.

It's a long way around, so I want to ask someone who has BTDT.
Your experience is much appreciated.
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Old 02-15-2020, 07:08 PM   #2
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We did it with our 35' Georgetown towing our CRV. Scared the cr@p out of me. That hill is steep and very windy. I stopped at a pull out and disconnected the car and my wife followed be the rest of the way down.
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Old 02-15-2020, 07:41 PM   #3
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Old 02-15-2020, 07:50 PM   #4
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CoPilot GPS tells me to take US 395 to Ca 190 East, but park info says vehicles towing trailers may consider entering the park from the East.
.
Are you towing? Usually when the park service puts out and advisory like that, it's a concern over turning radius. You might consider calling the park and seeking their advice.
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:16 PM   #5
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Using Google maps, I determined that there isn't anything too tight or steep if we go in through Ridgecrest on 178, then left on Paramount Valley Rd to 190. I saw double dumps captured in the photos.
The road seems to be in good condition. It'll just be a slower trip if it has a lot of dips. My poor car is like a sail on the back of the MH when on roads like that
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Old 02-15-2020, 08:22 PM   #6
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I'll add that I wouldn't trust CoPilot GPS once off Interstates. It wants to take me on a road from our house intersecting the main highway, but it's not a road I consider safe for any RV you care about.

I made sure to enter the right parameters about total length, total combined length etc. I've heard mixed reviews about it.

I think I'll invest in a dedicated truck or RV GPS.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by n1acguy View Post
I'm planning a trip to Death Valley next week, and I'm getting some mixed info on routes.

CoPilot GPS tells me to take US 395 to Ca 190 East, but park info says vehicles towing trailers may consider entering the park from the East.

I'm not concerned about a steep grade at that elevation. My only concern is if the road might be too narrow for my MH and toad which is about 48-50'.
BTDT . . .
First, are you coming from the North or the South on 395?
From 395 to Panamint Springs on Route 190 would be a looong, steady climb, up over the pass, and then a drop down a very twisty, steep, road to Panamint Springs (where it hits Route 178). The uphill climb will be a long slog, but certainly doable - it's that downhill run into Panamint Springs that will leave pucker marks on the seat . . . It's a perfect road for a motorcycle run, but I wouldn't want to be wrestling a 48'-50' rig through there. Going up (East to West) would be bad enough, but coming down would be some white-knuckling (as one other poster mentioned, they unhooked the tow vehicle and drove it down separately, which would certainly help).
If you're coming from the South, one route to consider would be to take Route 178 before Ridgecrest up to Panamint Springs, then stop in at the café there and drive your toad up to the top of the hill (there's a rest stop right at the top of the hill that, if you're lucky, you'll see a couple of the military jets come zooming through the valley right at eye level - literally Star Wars type stuff!!). Route 178 has some hills and twisties, but nothing as bad as coming down 190 - and it's a lot less traffic, really gives you a sense of Death Valley.
Only you know your personal pucker-tolerance, but I wouldn't bring a 48-50' rig down that road!
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:03 PM   #8
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P.S. If you do decide to come up Route 178, stop by Ballarat - you can check out the shack that Captain America and Billy stashed their bikes in in Easy Rider . . . It's literally a shack and that's it, but if you're fan of the movie, kinda cool.
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:11 PM   #9
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P.P.S. Sorry, missed your later post - Sounds like you're coming from the South, so your thought of taking 178 is spot on - it's not a bad road last time I was through. You can actually take Trona Road just North of Red Mountain, saves you a lot of time going all the way up to Ridgecrest (unless, of course, you have a burning desire to experience Ridgecrest!!). It's a lonely road, but that's one of the cool things about Death Valley.
BTW, are you staying at the Stovepipe RV place or Furnace Creek?
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Old 02-15-2020, 09:59 PM   #10
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Looks like we'll stay at Stovepipe Wells since Furnace Creek seems to be full.
Apple maps has me taking a route similar to what you suggest with a jog up 395, but I was thinking of taking 14 up to Ridgecrest to stay on a major highway a bit longer, and Ridgecrest has fuel options. Also the 178 seems to be a larger highway than some of the side roads

I have to go across Ca 166 to 58 , so a jog up the 14 isn't adding too many miles.

I'll cross check the Apple maps route with Google maps. I just don't want to follow a car route and get stuck.
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Old 02-16-2020, 01:57 AM   #11
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All the roads mentioned are solid roads (I wouldn't have any issues driving my coach on any of them). I'm also a big believer in 55-60 MPH on a deserted two lane highway is better than 75 on an Interstate any day of the week (hence the Trona Road suggestion). That said, by all means fuel up in Ridgecrest as it's slim pickin's out in Death Valley.
Enjoy the trip - unhitch at the Panamint Springs café (just west of the intersection of 178 and 190) and take the toad up the hill to the rest stop and see if they're doing any flying through the canyon! I think they may have cut back after the fatal crash last year, but you may get lucky . . .
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:14 PM   #12
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Looks like we'll stay at Stovepipe Wells since Furnace Creek seems to be full.
Apple maps has me taking a route similar to what you suggest with a jog up 395, but I was thinking of taking 14 up to Ridgecrest to stay on a major highway a bit longer, and Ridgecrest has fuel options. Also the 178 seems to be a larger highway than some of the side roads

I have to go across Ca 166 to 58 , so a jog up the 14 isn't adding too many miles.

I'll cross check the Apple maps route with Google maps. I just don't want to follow a car route and get stuck.
Please let me know your experience as I am planning on going to Death Valley in Late April. I am not sure of the best time of year to go. Also, if you would where you stayed during your trip. I have a 40 ft. fifth wheel and a 22 ft truck.

Hope you have a great trip.
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:31 PM   #13
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DV from the West

Yes, it is a long steep grade and windy and more narrow than an interstate. But wide enough to get by. I watched my temp rise but it turned out a mechanic had put a fuse in the wrong holder and my diesel emission system had the heat exchangers turned off. In short - ant way into DVNP is good! But forget Glower Gultch
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Old 02-16-2020, 02:47 PM   #14
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DV

We did this run last October
We went East and the windy road was pretty windy with a lot of traffic going West. There are a couple turns where our 28' was on the yellow line and had just enough room so we did not drag on the guard rail.
The grade was a good one, the engine oil was 240d and the transmission oil was 270d, I called my Ford dealer and he said don't worry until 275d on the engine oil. We were chasing our son that has a 2016 F250 diesel crew cab and 28' and we have a 2017 F250 diesel crew cab, both doing ~60 MPH and the turbo was pushing 40%+
So if you take your time up with the 48-50' you will make it, but your V12 will sound like NASCAR
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:22 PM   #15
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We have driven into/out of DV from both possible directions from the west with a 1t truck and heavy slide in camper. Nether direction gave us any problems. Been on a lot worse roads with our current F-150 and Trailer. Will also be going to Furnace Creek in April. Will take the 395 and then the 178 going there and likely the route thru Olancha on the way home just to make the scenery different.
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:24 PM   #16
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Please let me know your experience as I am planning on going to Death Valley in Late April. I am not sure of the best time of year to go. Also, if you would where you stayed during your trip. I have a 40 ft. fifth wheel and a 22 ft truck.

Hope you have a great trip.
Late April is going to be HOT. Even the first week of April is typically in the 80s
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Old 02-16-2020, 03:25 PM   #17
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Yes, it is a good road, I was just saying with a long trailer he will need to take his time thru the curves and up the hill
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:05 PM   #18
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I'll be going up 178. February is the best time of year. Projected weather is mid 70s during the day and high 40s at night.
I picked this coming week because of the moon cycle (new moon). I have never seen the Milky way as distinctive as the view from the desert. Even at the top of the Hawaii Big Island at the telescopes, it isn't as distinctive. Probably because so many other visible stars obscure it.
Stovepipe wells seems to be available most of the time, but you may not get full hookups, so be prepared to use your gen as needed, but another advantage of going this time of year, is that you won't need it much. The campground is mostly a parking lot, but that's OK because we'll be exploring the Park most of the time. If you plan far enough ahead, Furnace creek is nicer, but small sites that are very close.
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:08 PM   #19
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All the roads mentioned are solid roads (I wouldn't have any issues driving my coach on any of them). I'm also a big believer in 55-60 MPH on a deserted two lane highway is better than 75 on an Interstate any day of the week (hence the Trona Road suggestion). That said, by all means fuel up in Ridgecrest as it's slim pickin's out in Death Valley.
Enjoy the trip - unhitch at the Panamint Springs café (just west of the intersection of 178 and 190) and take the toad up the hill to the rest stop and see if they're doing any flying through the canyon! I think they may have cut back after the fatal crash last year, but you may get lucky . . .
Thanks for all of your info on this route.
I much prefer a route off the beaten path with less traffic, as long as the road conditions are good.

I appreciate you sharing your experience.
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:10 PM   #20
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Thanks to all who replied. Most of you convinced me not to take 190 east from 395
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