Los Angeles to Death Valley is about a 5 hour trip. If you take the Eastern Route on I5 you will pass first Barstow and then Baker, where you leave the interstate and head up Highway 127.
Supplies and Pit Stops
Barstow is the last large town, so is a good stop to stock up on the essentials, although it has little charm. If you are already stocked up and ready to go it is worth pressing on and stopping instead at Baker.
Famed for the world’s tallest thermometer (!), this small town is perfect for a quick pit-stop. You should fill up on fuel here as the next opportunity is either Shoshone (56 miles) or Furnace Creek (130 miles). I also have to recommend getting a bite to eat at The Mad Greek Cafe. The idea of a Greek Taverna in the middle of the Mojave Dessert is, of course, mad. However the Gyros are fantastic. If you are gluten-free like my husband, or on a low carb diet, just ask for it to be wrapped in lettuce leaf instead of pitta bread. Being true Brits we got ours “to-go” and had a picnic a little up the road. However, make sure you don’t leave Baker without logs for the campfire and plenty of water. After this you are in the desert proper and there is little of both.
There are a couple of small motels in Baker, however as we always camp my recommendation must go to Afton Canyon Campground. It is about 2 miles drive from the highway along a fairly easy track, off the interstate just short of Baker. It is quite literally in the middle of nowhere – except for the railroad track which runs nearby. The only facilities are a toilet over a hole in the ground, and a table and fire-pit for each pitch. There are no staff on duty, and you just leave the fee in an honesty box at the gate. (You can read a little more about our stay at my blog).
Once you leave I-15 on Highway 127 there are no services until Shoshone, a small settlement on the edge of Death Valley National Park. The scenery is incredible, and we had to stop on the road to give way to a Coyote that was out for a stroll – completely forgot to grab my camera of course, so no photo, sorry. You then have a choice of which road to take to enter the Park. The options are described in my Death Valley Road-Trip blog.