Saturday, February 25, 2012

Death Valley Days -- staying in Lone Pine

We came to Los Angeles for a family gathering (my aunt Rhoda’s 80th birthday party), and decided to come out a couple of days early to visit Death Valley.  We got a great fare — roughly $350 on Alaska Airlines for a non-stop from DCA to LAX — but then I procrastinated too long to make reservations in Death Valley and we couldn’t stay in the park. We found a reasonable price at the Dow Villa Motel  in Lone Pine.  Accommodations there were fine, and there were more varied dining possibilities available than there would have been had we been staying inside the park, but it is a long way into the park from there – a good 90 minutes drive to the interesting hikes and other attractions.   I recommend reserving early for Death Valley so you can stay inside the park.

It took us roughly four hours to drive from LAX.  We wanted to get out of the LA area before rush hour traffic built up, so we stopped for a late lunch in Palmdale.  The Bayou Bar BQ was one of the first things we saw getting off the highway; food was tasty if a bit salty, and the portions were huge. 

Nice scenery as we drove northward

Red Rock Canyon Park might have been a nice place to stop and walk around

 — but we were hoping to get to Lone Pine before dark.

Even pushing it, though, the sun was setting as we drove past the mostly dry Owens Lake Bed south of Lone Pine. 

We settled into the motel, then walked around town to pick up a place for dinner.  There was an open air vegetable market where we picked up a few more things to take on our trip into Death Valley the next day, then we settled on Seasons Restaurant, which seems to have pretensions to be the finest dining in Lone Pine. The food was OK overpriced for what it is, and a note to restaurants — it is hard to see your fare as fine dining when you serve a salad full of iceberg lettuce.  I enjoyed my elk medallions with dried cranberries.

We woke up bright and early to leave for a full day in the park. In the full light of day, Lone Pine was lovely – the Inyo mountains to the east seen from the Dow Villa, and the just to the west, with the Sierra Nevadas including Mt. Whitney towering behind (the jagged set of peaks at the center of the photo are Mt. Whitney).

Inyo Mountains seen over the Dow Villa Motel, Lone Pine

Sierra Nevada including Mt.Whitney seen from Lone Pine

We had an excellent breakfast at the Alabama Hills Café in Lone Pine, then drove past the Owens Lake Bed toward Death Valley – we were rewarded with excellent views of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east.

Sierra Nevadas seen over Owens Lake Bed

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