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Publication: Weekend GetAways
Death Valley And Mojave

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       WEEKEND GETAWAYS - Friday, October 12, 2007
    Make The Most Of Your Vacation - From Coast to Coast!

Greetings Getaway Lover,

Here's A Great Trip To Enjoy....Death Valley And Mojave

Dust and desolation, tumbleweeds and rattlesnakes, barren 
landscapes -- these are the bleak images that come to mind 
when most people hear the word desert. But east of the 
Sierra Nevada, where the land quickly flattens and the 
rain seldom falls, the desert is anything but a wasteland. 
The topography here is extreme; whereas Death Valley drops 
to almost 300 feet below sea level and contains the lowest 
(and hottest) spot in the Western Hemisphere, the Mojave 
Desert, which lies to the south, has elevations ranging 
from 3,000 to 5,000 feet. These remote regions (which are 
known, respectively, as low desert and high desert) 
possess a singular beauty found nowhere else in California: 
there are vast open spaces populated with spiky Joshua 
trees, undulating sand dunes, faulted mountains, and drama-
tic rock formations. Owens Valley is where the desert meets 
the mountains; its 80-mi width separates the depths of 
Death Valley from Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the 
continental United States. Exploring the wonders of Death 
Valley in the morning and then heading to the Sierra to 
cool off in the afternoon is an amazing study in contrasts

Happy Trails,
Jan

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--DESTINATION: Death Valley & Mojave

Believe everything you've ever heard about desert heat: 
it can be brutal. To avoid dehydration and sunburn, you 
need sunglasses, sunblock, a hat, and clothing that 
blocks the sun's rays and the wind. Because this region 
is vast -- about as big as Ohio -- and the weather is 
unpredictable, you'll also need to make careful driving 
plans. Facilities such as gas stations and supermarkets 
are few, so be sure to fill your gas tank whenever you 
can and check your vehicle's fluids and tire pressure 
frequently. Shut off your car's air-conditioning on 
steep grades to avoid engine overheating. At the start 
of each day load the car with three gallons of water per 
person, plus additional radiator water, and a cooler 
stocked with extra food. Be sure to bring reliable maps; 
signage can be limited and, in some places, nonexistent. 
It's a good idea to have a compass and a cell phone 
(though the signal may fade in remote areas). A pair of 
binoculars can also come in handy, and don't forget your 
camera -- you're likely to see things you've never seen 
before. 

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--WHAT TO DO AND SEE:

Afton Canyon 
Canyon, Barstow 
 
Because of its colorful, steep walls, Afton Canyon is often 
called the Grand Canyon of the Mojave. It was carved over 
thousands of years by the rushing waters of the Mojave River, 
which makes one of its few aboveground appearances here. 
Where you find water in the desert you'll also find trees, 
grasses, and wildlife, so the canyon has attracted people 
for a long time: Native Americans and, later, settlers 
following the Mojave Trail from the Colorado River to the 
Pacific Ocean set up camp here. Now you can, too, at a 22-
site campground amid high-desert cliffs and a mesquite 
thicket. The dirt road that leads to the canyon is ungraded 
in spots, so you are best off driving it in an all-terrain 
vehicle. Check with the Mojave Desert Information Center 
(PHONE: 760/733-4040; www.nps.gov/moja), in Baker, about 
road conditions before you head in. 

Address: Off Afton Canyon Rd., 36 mi northeast of Barstow 
via I-15, Barstow, CA, USA

 
Antelope Valley Indian Museum 
Museum/Gallery, Palmdale 
 
Notable for its one-of-a-kind Native American artifacts, 
Antelope Valley Indian Museum has more than 2,500 items 
on display, including pieces from California, Southwestern, 
and Great Basin tribes. The unusual Swiss chalet-style 
building, built in 1928 by homesteader Howard Arden Edwards, 
clings to the rocky hillside of Piute Butte and is listed 
on the National Register of Historic Places. 
www.avim.parks.ca.gov. COST: $2. OPEN: Mid-Sept.-mid-June, 
weekends 11-4; tours Tues.-Thurs. by appointment. 

Address: Ave. M between 150th and 170th Sts. E, 17 mi east 
of Antelope Valley Freeway (Hwy. 14), Palmdale, CA, USA
Phone: 661/942-0662

 
Artists Palette 
Geological Site, Red Rock Canyon State Park 
 
Artists Palette, so called for the brilliant colors of its 
volcanic deposits, is one of the most magnificent sights 
in Death Valley. Artists Drive, the approach to the area, 
is one-way heading north off Badwater Road, so if you're 
visiting Badwater, it saves time to come here on the way 
back. The drive winds through foothills of sedimentary and 
volcanic rocks. Within the palette, the huge expanses of 
Death Valley are replaced by intimate, small-scale natural 
beauty. It's a quiet, lonely drive. 

Address: 11 mi south of Furnace Creek off Badwater Rd., 
Red Rock Canyon State Park, CA, USA
  
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Other Places of Interest:

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve 
Park, Lancaster 
 
California's state flower, the California poppy, can be 
spotted just about anywhere in the state, but the densest 
concentration is in the Seven miles of trails lead you 
through 1,745 acres of hills carpeted with poppies and 
other wildflowers as far as the eye can see. Peak blooming 
time is usually March through May. The visitor center has 
books and information about the reserve and other desert 
areas. Many trails are wheelchair- and stroller-accessible. 
www.parks.ca.gov/default.asp?page_id=627. COST: $4 per 
vehicle. OPEN: Visitor center mid-Mar.-mid-May, weekdays 
9-4, weekends 9-5. 

Address: Ave. I between 110th and 170th Sts. W, Lancaster, 
CA, USA   Phone: 661/724-1180 or 661/942-0662
 

Badwater 
Body of Water, Red Rock Canyon State Park 
 
Reaching Badwater, you'll see a shallow pool containing 
mostly sodium chloride -- the pool is saltier than the 
sea -- in an expanse of desolate salt flats. It's a sharp 
contrast to the expansive canyons and elevations nearby. 
At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater is the lowest spot 
on land in the Western Hemisphere -- and also one of the 
hottest. The legend of its name is that an early surveyor 
noticed his mule wouldn't drink from the pool and wrote 
"badwater" on his map. 

Address: Badwater Rd., 19 mi south of Furnace Creek, Red 
Rock Canyon State Park, CA, USA
 
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--WHERE TO SLEEP:

Best Western Colorado River Inn 
Under $90 to $175, Needles 
 
Each room at this property off I-40 has a hair dryer; 
deluxe rooms also have coffeemakers. Local phone calls 
are free, and there is complimentary coffee in the 
lobby every morning. The country-Western style rooms 
are spartan, but decorated in rich colors. 
www.bestwestern.com. 63 rooms. In-room: refrigerator 
(some), ethernet (some), dial-up, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 
pool, laundry facilities, no-smoking rooms, some pets 
allowed. AE, DC, MC, V. 

Address: 2371 Needles Hwy., Needles, CA 92363, USA
Phone: 760/326-4552 or 800/780-7234
Fax: 760/326-4562
 

Buffalo Bill's Resort and Casino 
Under $90 to $175, Primm 
 
Decorated in the style of a western frontier town, this 
hotel is the biggest and most popular in Primm. Its 
buffalo-shaped swimming pool and a large amusement park 
-- which features several roller coasters and other rides 
-- make the property a hit with families. The casino 
itself is enormous (46,000 square feet), and rooms here 
are bright and cheery and decorated with lodge-style 
furniture. Among the resort's several restaurants, 
Batelli's Italiano Restaurante and Oyster Bar ($-$$$) is 
a favorite; chef Fernando Batelli serves up his signature 
cioppino (a hearty seafood stew) and other Italian 
favorites with brio. www.primmvalleyresorts.com. 1,193 
rooms, 49 suites. In-room: kitchen (some), refrigerator 
(some), dial-up. In-hotel: 8 restaurants, bars, pool, 
concierge, no-smoking rooms, minibar (some). AE, D, DC, 
MC, V. 

Address: 31700 Las Vegas Blvd. S, Primm, NV, USA
Phone: 702/386-7867; 800/386-7867; 702/837-0022 for Batelli's

 
Desert Inn 
Under $90 to $120, Lancaster 
 
Year after year this 1950s hotel remains a popular dining 
and lodging spot. The rooms are basic, decorated in dusty-
purple tones. On the premises are the D. I. Cafe (¢-$) 
and the fancier Granada Room ($-$$), where you can dine 
on American-French dishes such as breaded, baked chicken 
breast stuffed with cream cheese and walnuts, or beef 
tenderloin stuffed with a medley of shrimp, mushrooms, 
and Swiss cheese. Every night, the D. I. Lounge serves up 
happy hour and live entertainment. The well-kept, parklike 
grounds are a half mile from downtown Lancaster. 
www.desert-inn.com. 144 rooms. In-room: refrigerator, 
ethernet (some), dial-up, Wi-Fi. In-hotel: 2 restaurants, 
room service, pools, gym. AE, D, DC, MC, V. 

Address: 44219 N. Sierra Hwy., Lancaster, CA, USA
Phone: 661/942-8401 or 800/942-8401
Fax: 661/942-8950
 
--WHERE TO DINE:

Bagdad Café 
American, Under $10 to $15, Barstow 
 
Tourists from all over the world flock to the site where 
the 1988 film of the same name was shot. Built in the 
1940s, this Route 66 eatery serves a home-style menu of 
burgers, chicken-fried steak, and seafood. An old 
Airstream trailer from the movie sits outside the café. 
www.bagdadcafeusa.com. AE, MC, V. 

Address: 46548 National Trails Hwy., Newberry Springs, CA, USA
Phone: 760/257-3101
 

 Emma Jean's Hollandburger Cafe 
American, Under $10 to $15, Victorville 
 
This circa-1940s diner sits right on U.S. Historic Route 
66 and is favored by locals for its generous portions and
old-fashioned home cooking. Try the biscuits and gravy, 
chicken-fried steak, or the famous Trucker's Sandwich, 
chock-full of roast beef, bacon, chilies, and cheese. AE, 
MC, V. Closed Sun. No dinner. 

Address: 17143 D St., Victorville, CA, USA
Phone: 760/243-9938
 

Needles Route 66 Cafe 
Mexican, Under $10, Needles 
 
Surf the Wi-Fi Internet on your laptop at this no-frills 
diner, which serves a nice mix of American and Mexican 
standards. Though Needles is famous for its "giant" 
chicken-fried steak smothered in country gravy, locals 
prefer the spicier selections such as the homemade salsa, 
chili Colorado burritos, and sizzling chicken fajitas. 
For dessert, try the deep-fried flaming banana, topped 
with two scoops of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with 
honey, cinnamon, and whipped cream. www.needlescafe.com. 
D, MC, V. 

Address: 2411 Needles Hwy., Needles, CA, USA
Phone: 760/326-1100


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