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The weather forecast is actually getting better for the southern route we have decided to take instead of going over the Sierras on I/80. Its going to be raining and probably snow this week and even though no rain is forecast for our departure day, Mon the 28th, it's going to be COLD, around 39-40 degrees and also the same on the return date of Wed the 30th. Compare that to the weather in the south with no rain forecast and temps of 57, 58 and 52 at Lake Isabella in the Sierra Nevadas with no rain or snow expected for this week.

No brainer on what general route to take, however, we will be taking 99 to 178 east out of Bakersfield (armpit of the central valley followed by Fresno) which goes through the Sierras and "Ts" at hgwy 14. We take a left there then a right to catch 178 again where it eventually "Ts" at hgwy 190. We make a right and stay on that road all the way to Beatty and our hotel/motel. My question is for anyone who has taken this route or an alternative route by staying on 14 (turns into hgwy 395) instead and continue for quite a ways (wish Google Earth had mile markers or a decent map legend) until you reach 190, you then make a right and like above, follow it all the way to Beatty. The one hang up about taking 178 on the first route is the slow down by having go through the city streets of Ridgecrest and a couple other small towns.

I did a Google driving directions starting at Lake Isabella, Ca., which is in the southern Sierra Nevadas and ending in Beatty, our hotel destination. Starting from Lake Isabella gives the directional computer the opportunity to choose between the first our second routes and it went for the second one. The road itself looks great, with a lot of it repaved, but there is a longish twisty area as you work your way through an area before dropping down into Death Valley. At this point I'm going to settle on the same route the driving directions computer chose and partly because there were a couple very long arrow straight sections of hgwy 190 that to me eats up a lot of ground in a shorter period of time compared to the other route.

If someone is familiar with these routes and has driven one or both, please let me know what you think.

Scott, I finally started reading the Death Valley & The Amargosa book you recommended, but between trying to learn my new telescope mount and work I just got started, but so far so good, I think I'm going to really like it. I'll try and read as much as I can before the trip.
 

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That area of California is a hidden gem! Not many people know about it, and fewer still have ridden it. Luckily I've been thru there about 10 times and can attest the route I have included is the one I would take. https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Tulare,+CA/Beatty,+NV/@35.9016418,-118.911058,10z/data=!4m29!4m28!1m20!1m1!1s0x80952b42bdf2c4b7:0xd14145dcca9de44f!2m2!1d-119.3473379!2d36.2077288!3m4!1m2!1d-118.9999074!2d36.0005311!3s0x80eabf2118724d37:0x2cbb1aca83a07712!3m4!1m2!1d-118.8261045!2d35.8029086!3s0x80ea8538cf23b01b:0x76c92d0315683c3a!3m4!1m2!1d-117.4294212!2d35.6627066!3s0x80c147247a31ef47:0x4a5fb1511c19edac!1m5!1m1!1s0x80b898d367a1b6f9:0xc6776c0873ea0776!2m2!1d-116.7592265!2d36.9085566!3e0?hl=en&authuser=0The only warning is Hwy 155 is ALWAYS sandy, so be vigilant. But other than that, and with the recent rain, it should be curvy, green rolling hills all the way!

Compared with your original route, google says it adds about another 40 min of time, but add another hour b/c the sites are just that beautiful. Gas up in Ridgecrest and Beatty, not DV. Artist loop drive is a hoot, do it twice! Once to sigh see, another for the "ride" experience. Dante's peak needs min 1hr to fully grasp the view, bring a chair.

For about $10 you can use the showers&pool at Stovepipe wells. Many people camp ($15 vs 150), and shower&eat across the street.

Enjoy, and the police don't give warnings either. ;)
 

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What are you riding there? Can you do any amount of off-road stuff. There are a couple of great roads into the Valley that head to The Racetrack, but not on a road bike. Not bad roads, just a bit iffy for limited clearance machines. The tour at Scotties Castle is well worth the stop, the old Borax works with the 20 mule team wagons is interesting. So much to see there, so different. Enjoy! Oh yeah, the desert can be very cold at night.
 

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Are you riding the Harley there or did you get a dual sport? Many more places to go if you have a dual sport.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That area of California is a hidden gem! Not many people know about it, and fewer still have ridden it. Luckily I've been thru there about 10 times and can attest the route I have included is the one I would take. https://www.google.com/maps/dir/Tulare,+CA/Beatty,+NV/@35.9016418,-118.911058,10z/data=!4m29!4m28!1m20!1m1!1s0x80952b42bdf2c4b7:0xd14145dcca9de44f!2m2!1d-119.3473379!2d36.2077288!3m4!1m2!1d-118.9999074!2d36.0005311!3s0x80eabf2118724d37:0x2cbb1aca83a07712!3m4!1m2!1d-118.8261045!2d35.8029086!3s0x80ea8538cf23b01b:0x76c92d0315683c3a!3m4!1m2!1d-117.4294212!2d35.6627066!3s0x80c147247a31ef47:0x4a5fb1511c19edac!1m5!1m1!1s0x80b898d367a1b6f9:0xc6776c0873ea0776!2m2!1d-116.7592265!2d36.9085566!3e0?hl=en&authuser=0The only warning is Hwy 155 is ALWAYS sandy, so be vigilant. But other than that, and with the recent rain, it should be curvy, green rolling hills all the way!

Compared with your original route, google says it adds about another 40 min of time, but add another hour b/c the sites are just that beautiful. Gas up in Ridgecrest and Beatty, not DV. Artist loop drive is a hoot, do it twice! Once to sigh see, another for the "ride" experience. Dante's peak needs min 1hr to fully grasp the view, bring a chair.

For about $10 you can use the showers&pool at Stovepipe wells. Many people camp ($15 vs 150), and shower&eat across the street.

Enjoy, and the police don't give warnings either. ;)
Thanks for the ride tips, but unfortunately we are meeting one rider just north of Bakersfield, since it's closer for him to meet there. I didn't realize there was a route out of Tulare, but it looks like you believe taking 178 through Ridgecrest to 190 to Beatty is better than continuing north on 14/395 then cutting over at Olancha to 136/190 and staying on that all the way to Beatty? I'm kind of going back and forth regarding that portion of the route in to Beatty. I've warned the guys to dress really warm because we will probably be getting in to Beatty after night fall. One guy has a condition where his throttle hand doesn't work too well when it's really cold out, I recommended a heated jacket and gloves, but he doesn't think it's going to be cold enough to buy them, being hes a cheapskate.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Are you riding the Harley there or did you get a dual sport? Many more places to go if you have a dual sport.
All of us are on Harleys or bigger cruiser bikes, so I thought about your ride up that valley and thought not likely. Maybe there is a loop we can take just to get a feel of the valley, we really don't have enough time only having one full day there.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
What are you riding there? Can you do any amount of off-road stuff. There are a couple of great roads into the Valley that head to The Racetrack, but not on a road bike. Not bad roads, just a bit iffy for limited clearance machines. The tour at Scotties Castle is well worth the stop, the old Borax works with the 20 mule team wagons is interesting. So much to see there, so different. Enjoy! Oh yeah, the desert can be very cold at night.
When we get to the hotel I'll ask about the castle and the other sites you mentioned, can you see them in one day? I'm prepared for the cold since we will likely be arriving after night fall and the temps drop like a rock. I have a heated jacket and gloves with cold weather over pants, I'm a little concerned about foot warmth, but we won't be too long riding at night I hope. I got caught in the mountains a couple years back up in Modoc County and I wasn't prepared enough for it, lesson learned.
 

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Yes, you can do Scotties and the Borax works and some other stuff in one day. You will miss a lot of out of the way places really limited to a bit more adventuresome (Race Track, Ubehibe Crater, etc.), but it is still worth the trip. Get down to at least the Devils Golf Course as that is worth a look and you can gander at the fishies swimming in the brine at the lowest point in the US.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ride Cancelled

Due to mainly unpredictable changing weather and wind conditions, we decided to postpone the ride to sometime in late March or February 2017. Real bummer, we were all looking forward to this, but as many of you know going to Death Valley on a bike is subject to conditions in the mountains. You are never really guaranteed good riding conditions this time of year, being that summer is out of the question. Thanks for the suggestions nevertheless and I'll certainly refer back to this thread when the time rolls around again. The people who run the El Portal hotel in Beatty were super, worked with us from day one, can't say enough nice things about their service.
 

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I wold do March or better April as it can get cold in Feb and the mountains may still be a problem. Fall is also nice, like after late September. Great place you will never forget!
 

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We will be there in March, maybe you should get a dual sport and come play with us.
 

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Listen to Scott, he has the right idea! Either that or a 4WD. Opens up other vistas!
 

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I've been exploring that area for about 20 years now, with my Jeep club. If you want to see easy-to-reach and interesting attractions, then DV National Park is the place to go. But you'll be on designated roads only, no off-road trail riding is allowed inside the park boundaries. There are a few dirt roads but most roads are paved. It is an amazing place, but you'll have tourists all over the place.

If you want to really explore old mining camps and ghost towns, then go to Panamint Valley which is BLM land (open land to explore), in the next valley to the west of Death Valley. It has miles and miles of trails, leading up to old mining camps and ghost towns up at the top of the mountains. For good trails, start at intersection of Nadau Rd and Trona Wildrose Rd, this is about 15 miles north of the small town of Trona. Nadeau Rd is a dirt road that runs along the western side of Panamint Valley for about 10-15 miles. From there, trails run up the hills to old mining camps, mines, and other assorted strange stuff up there. Nadeau Rd north runs for about 20 miles to Panamint Valley Springs. There you can rent cabin, get food/gas, camp, shower, etc.

On the eastern side of Panamont Valley is the ghost town of Ballarat. From Trona Wildrose Rd take Ballarat Rd to Ballarat. That is the beginning of trails that lead up to the top of the moutains that make up the western side of Death Valley. A popular trail is Golar Wash, which will take you all the way up, and over the mountains into DV.

Look up the Panamint Valley area on a good detailed map, there are miles and miles of roads and trails there with very interesting history. But one very important thing to remember when out there in the bush exploring, never pass up a gas station without filling up. There are few gas stations out there, and no cell service for most of the area... I have seen people waiting along the road numerous times, waiting for someone to bring them gas...

Good Luck
I"ll be out there in March with my Jeep club exploring...
 

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Sweet trip, sounds like a blast. I never did the unpaved route but we stayed there in the middle of June passing through. Man, that really sucked but the roads were nice wide sweepers and suprisingly well paved. Good luck!
 
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