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Old 10-04-2018, 05:55 PM   #1
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Inquiry - Which Death Valley Roads to Avoid 190?

Good Day - We will be driving from Dayton OR to Mesa AZ in late October. We will be coming down through Klamath Falls - Carson City - Lone Pine(???) through Death Valley(???) - Las Vegas to Val Vista Village in Mesa.

My setup is a diesel 2008 F450 (6.4L w/ 4.88LS) SD Crew Cab DRD pulling a 2015 378V TH 5er that weighs ~18K. Together we are ~28K and 58' in length.

The ??? is where I am asking for advice. The trip as currently designed will be taking us down 395 which as I understand is a beautiful scenic route. After Carson City I am considering continuing down 395 to Lone Pine then cutting over through Death Valley(DV) to Las Vegas(LV). People have told me that on RT 190 from Lone Pine to LV has one pass of 8-9% grades for 8-10 miles! Sounds like too much white knuckling for a pleasure trip.

I am considering heading east after Lee Vining RT 120 to RT 6 to RT 95 on down to LV. Anybody have experience around this area?

TYIA
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Old 10-04-2018, 06:36 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by lemieuxray View Post
Good Day - We will be driving from Dayton OR to Mesa AZ in late October. We will be coming down through Klamath Falls - Carson City - Lone Pine(???) through Death Valley(???) - Las Vegas to Val Vista Village in Mesa.

My setup is a diesel 2008 F450 (6.4L w/ 4.88LS) SD Crew Cab DRD pulling a 2015 378V TH 5er that weighs ~18K. Together we are ~28K and 58' in length.

The ??? is where I am asking for advice. The trip as currently designed will be taking us down 395 which as I understand is a beautiful scenic route. After Carson City I am considering continuing down 395 to Lone Pine then cutting over through Death Valley(DV) to Las Vegas(LV). People have told me that on RT 190 from Lone Pine to LV has one pass of 8-9% grades for 8-10 miles! Sounds like too much white knuckling for a pleasure trip.

I am considering heading east after Lee Vining RT 120 to RT 6 to RT 95 on down to LV. Anybody have experience around this area?

TYIA

Be sure to check the weather this time of year....Had snow flurries last night in the High Sierra, Lake Tahoe area
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Old 10-04-2018, 06:42 PM   #3
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See for yourself, the first 25 minutes is 190 into DV from the West. Climb to almost 5000ft then down to sea level (IIRC you don't get below sea level on 190 until after the Beatty turnoff), then another 4k+ up across Daylight Pass.

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Old 10-04-2018, 06:54 PM   #4
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We took 190 east bound with our 2004 35' Georgetown with the CRV behind it and never have been more scared in my life. It was steep and curvey and scared the cr@p out of me. About half way down, we found a wide spot and disconnected the car to complete the descent.

You have a pretty robust setup and may do well on it, but you couldn't get me to go that route again.
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Old 10-04-2018, 08:34 PM   #5
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Cool, thanks
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Old 10-04-2018, 11:54 PM   #6
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Going down 395 from Reno takes you through Mammoth Lakes. The area gets a lot of snow between late October into April. Also, Chain Law is currently in effect in Nevada and remains until the end of April, so you should have a set with you. The trip from Reno NV to Bishop CA is spectacular. And 190 from Lone Pine is a winding road with some long down grades in to Panamint Springs. Then a good 4000 ft climb to Towne Pass in the Panamint Range. Then to Death Valley and out through Death Valley Junction over another pass. If you are exhausted from the passes, you can take 127 to 373 to Amargosa Valley and pick up US 95 to Las Vegas. Or if you feel adventurous, you can go into Pahrump via State Line Road/Bell Vista Drive and go to Las Vegas via 160 and Mountain Springs Pass. Now that has a nice downhill (~7% downhill grade) into the south side of Las Vegas. It is a spectacular trip, though. Went through there in April and pulled a 25 ft trailer over that pass and back down again with no problem. You are in for a ride, though. I've been that route between Reno and Pahrump and it was interesting. It will be interesting while towing a 5er. Also, be prepared for EXPENSIVE gasoline if you decide to top off in Death Valley.
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Old 10-05-2018, 12:59 PM   #7
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Reroute your trip

I would go east right from the start to east side of Rocky's and then straight south to AZ
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Old 10-05-2018, 01:23 PM   #8
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Great Information. Thank you.

"Also, Chain Law is currently in effect in Nevada and remains until the end of April, so you should have a set with you" -- Mandatory chains in all of Nevada or certain areas in the high desert?
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Old 10-05-2018, 04:07 PM   #9
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Having lived in Eastern Sierra about 25 years, I would run into Benton out of Lee Vining. The D VALEY route would be more than I would be comfortable with considering your length overall.
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Old 10-05-2018, 04:48 PM   #10
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Great Information. Thank you.

"Also, Chain Law is currently in effect in Nevada and remains until the end of April, so you should have a set with you" -- Mandatory chains in all of Nevada or certain areas in the high desert?
Yep, the whole state. Now does everyone in southern Nevada carry chains? Nope. While Nevada is mostly desert, much of it is high desert (above 4000 feet). I have driven from Reno (elev. 4500 feet) to Beatty (elev. 3500 feet) in heavy snow with snow pack grading to slush to rain mixed with snow at Beatty. Location doesn't matter; you must either carry chains or have snow tires with a good aggressive tread. The police won't stop you and check, but if you slide off of a snowy road and don't have that equipment, the fines can ruin your trip. If you are towing, you want to make sure you have chains for the truck and the trailer (one pair for each should be satisfactory). Many don't realize that Tonopah NV is at 6000 feet elevation with the pass to Goldfield at about 6170 feet. I've rolled into town there with a foot of snow on the ground. I stayed overnight and woke up to 2 feet of snow. Very pretty, but very treacherous. I was in Pahrump (elev. 2700 feet) this past April and it snowed the third week of April while we were there. We had rain mixed with snow in the RV park we were in and the passes got about 6 inches.

I also believe that the California mountain regions above 3500 ft also have chain law though many Caltrans Chain Control Points in the Sierra Nevada frequently offer local chain-up and chain removal services with rentals for a modest cost during snow season. By the way, other states besides Nevada have Chain Law as well - Utah and Colorado come to mind, though their rules are probably a bit different.

Quite frankly, you will probably have a nice trip with smooth sailing. I'm just passing on my own experience.
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Old 10-05-2018, 05:42 PM   #11
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elchilero53 - Thank you for the detailed information. If we go to Carson City I see we would be coming down via the Tonopah/Gold pass unless off 395 I take 120/6/264/266 on our way to Vegas to avoid that pass.

Can I pick your experience a little more. With luck we'll stick to our late October departure out of Dayton OR. Using your windshield experience can you tell me approximately what my odds are (that time of year) of running into "significant white weather" (I understand there could be black ice on most any of the passes) coming down/through Willamette Pass in Oregon to Klamath Falls? Then down to Carson City?

TYIA
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Old 10-05-2018, 08:59 PM   #12
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I cannot say anything about whether there will be significant white stuff in late October; it varies year to year, but probably not. We have been from Klamath Falls down to Susanville CA and it was a nice drive free of passes (and people).

When we lived in Reno, I was still wearing shorts and tee shirts in late October! If this is going to be a wet winter across the Sierra Nevada, the chances are much better that there will be snow at the higher elevations (above 6,500 feet). Quite frankly, the route you are thinking of is tricky. You still have to cross a pass to get to Mono Lake and Lee Vining. Hwy 120 is closed in the winter. Check with Caltrans as it might be closed by the time you hit Lee Vining. There is a pass on US 6 going east. As for 264/266, you have to cross Lida Summit on 266, which is 7400 feet elevation, about 1400 feet HIGHER than Tonopah. Of course, once you leave Lee Vining, there won't be any fuel until you get to Beatty, since you are bypassing Tonopah and Goldfield. Also, once you get off of US 6, there wasn't much cell signal, so if you break down or have a mechanical issue, it is a long walk to somewhere. We've been across that route and the road is narrow but free of tight curves. Personally, I would go out on I-80 to Fernley and Fallon and pick up US 95 and go south. You could also go through Carson City and then head east on US50 to Silver Springs and turn right on Alt 95A through Yerington. You will get to US 95 at Schurz. Be warned, though, if it is windy south of Schurz, the stretch from Schurz to the north end of Walker Lake can be dangerous. I watched a gust of wind out of a shotgun canyon sweep an ABF double trailer semi rig off the road. That was about the first of November.

The best advice I have for you is watch the weather and have a backup plan. I have been over every road you mentioned. Pulling your rig I would stay on well-travelled highways. Nevada is desolate between towns and the Nevada Highway Patrol troopers are few and far between. If you want to boondock or take back roads, park somewhere and use the tow vehicle to explore. Where you are going is wild, desolate country. Have a plan.
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Old 10-06-2018, 07:29 AM   #13
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elchilero53 covered just about every detail. Latter part of October is an excellent time to visit the Death Valley area.
I can only add a few stop suggestions: Whitney Portal, west of Lone Pine, is a beautiful place to camp, but it might be a bit difficult with your rig size. However, Alabama Hills, between Lone Pine & Whitney Portal is also a very pretty place to dry-camp and take pictures. If you decide to skip Death Valley then you might want to add a stop at Trona Pinnacles, California to your visitation list. You might also enjoy an overnight at Red Rock Canyon State Park, California. You can Google all of those places for details. If, for explainable reasons, you're passing Baker, California (Interstate Highway 15) ... then you must stop for some "Alien Fresh Jerky." It's actually very good high-quality beef jerky packaged as a novelty.
Be safe, and enjoy your journey.
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Old 10-06-2018, 09:03 AM   #14
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In Bishop, we like jdiamond mobile ranch. Quite and well managed. It is about $40 per night for full hookups. The sites are a little close together, but it is still the best rv park along the 395. You are right across from Holly smoke BBQ that is good and the world famous schats bakery is right nextdoor.
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Old 10-06-2018, 03:33 PM   #15
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Well, no matter what you do, you should be fine. Have a great, safe trip and just enjoy the scenery no matter how magnificently desolate it might be.

Oh and if you wind up in Baker CA for some reason, be sure to stop at the Mad Greeks restaurant. Don't know why he is mad but the food is outstanding (if he is still open, that is)!


Oh, and watch out for the "Fruit and Vegetable Police" on the CA state line.
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Old 10-06-2018, 06:25 PM   #16
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This is good stuff guys - After our stop in Carson City area I think I will go out on I-80 to Fernley and Fallon and pick up US 95 and go south. Pick up 6 at Tonopah over to 35 at Warm Springs then make my way down to Vegas. Stopping whenever I can with a gas tank between 3/4 and 1/2 versus waiting until 1/2 to start searching. We really appreciate all this good help everyone
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Old 10-06-2018, 07:26 PM   #17
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FWIW- I'm sitting in Fallon, NV at this time waiting for high winds to blow themselves out in Tonopah. This is the route I've taken for years coming down from Oregon, using 31 from LaPine to Lakeview to Susanville to Reno. Diesel in Susanville a couple days ago was $3.93...here in Fallon I've seen it at $3.23 My rig is 60' and I've not had any issues on this route. Before I started RVing I drove 4x4 whatevers and made the trip over Tonopah in February for 20 years in a row on my way to the Phoenix area. Never once hit snow on the road, but it was dang cold.

Two years ago in the spring I came up 93 just east of LV then stayed in Alamo. Good road, interesting area. From there 375 thru Rachel (Area 51 fame) up to 6 and into Tonopah. Good road, very little traffic and awesome vistas. Fuel wasn't a problem as long as you stay on the top half. In Tonopah there's a station that is easy in/out on the south side of town.

Best of luck with the weather! Enjoy your trip.
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Old 10-06-2018, 07:57 PM   #18
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You are too long for CA 120. Pin Box to Trailer axel distance will be a problem on some of the roller coaster type roadway There are warning signs. Check before using this route.
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Old 10-06-2018, 08:19 PM   #19
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This is good stuff guys - After our stop in Carson City area I think I will go out on I-80 to Fernley and Fallon and pick up US 95 and go south. Pick up 6 at Tonopah over to 35 at Warm Springs then make my way down to Vegas. Stopping whenever I can with a gas tank between 3/4 and 1/2 versus waiting until 1/2 to start searching. We really appreciate all this good help everyone
If you want to go straight to Fallon from Carson City, just take US 50 instead of backtracking to Reno and I-80. Of course, you might could also take Alt US 95 through Yerington to Hawthorne; it is shorter (and really pretty) that way rather than going way out of your way (unless you really want to, of course). The highway is very good and smooth.

Remember what I said about limited fuel availability when you aren't on a main US highway? There is fuel in Fallon, Hawthorne, and Tonopah. Warm Springs on US 6 is a wide spot in the road and there is no fuel there. The next fuel for you going via 375 (I think you meant 375, not 35) will probably be at Ash Springs on US 93 which is 154 miles away from Tonopah. If you have a big fuel tank, you should be ok. Otherwise, there is no fuel on the Extraterrestrial Highway. There is also an RV Park there at Ash Springs if you are tired and want stop for the night.

Nevada has one of the most urbanized populations of almost any other state; most of the people live in either Reno-Sparks-Carson City and the Las Vegas-Henderson Metroplex. As a result, the rest of the state is largely open with a few scattered small towns.

We really enjoyed living there and would certainly return if given an opportunity.

Drive safe and .
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Old 10-06-2018, 08:28 PM   #20
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FWIW- I'm sitting in Fallon, NV at this time waiting for high winds to blow themselves out in Tonopah. This is the route I've taken for years coming down from Oregon, using 31 from LaPine to Lakeview to Susanville to Reno. Diesel in Susanville a couple days ago was $3.93...here in Fallon I've seen it at $3.23 My rig is 60' and I've not had any issues on this route. Before I started RVing I drove 4x4 whatevers and made the trip over Tonopah in February for 20 years in a row on my way to the Phoenix area. Never once hit snow on the road, but it was dang cold.

Two years ago in the spring I came up 93 just east of LV then stayed in Alamo. Good road, interesting area. From there 375 thru Rachel (Area 51 fame) up to 6 and into Tonopah. Good road, very little traffic and awesome vistas. Fuel wasn't a problem as long as you stay on the top half. In Tonopah there's a station that is easy in/out on the south side of town.

Best of luck with the weather! Enjoy your trip.
+10 on this trip. It is a very nice trip and very pretty.
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