I will be in Vegas in May. I will be renting a motorcycle on the 18th & 19th, and would like to take one of those days and do a quick tour of the park. Will the weather (heat) be OK at that time of the year? I plan to take the following route: 95 out of Vegas to NV 373, south to CA 127 to 190, at Death Valley Junction. Then, 190 W as far as Stovepipe Wells, then back to 178 to see Zabriskie Point, Devil's Golfcourse and Badwater Basin. Then I'll go back up 178 to 190 and head back to Dante's View, hopefully to watch the sunset, then back to Vegas. I'll be on a Honda Goldwing, so the distances don't bother me, but can all of this be done in a day? I'll be traveling alone, so I'll only be stopping for fuel, food and drinks, pics and a souvenir or two. Thanks.
The short answer is "yes"; I think this would be a great day, provided there is no rain in the forecast. You can find nearly all your answers about temperatures and distances on the web by googling Death Valley. Note that there are both government and commercial sites, so look around for different coverages of this topic. May temps in the park are listed as 99F/37C, but keep in mind that these are peak reports and you're early in the month. Also remember that temps at the bottom of the canyon (Highway 190) are generally 20F/7C higher than at the rim or on the highways you'll be travelling from and to Las Vegas. You're itenirary takes in most of the good scenic spots, or at least a typical spread. Don't forget to include Artist Drive, if you're an accomplished rider on twisty, narrow paved roads lightly covered with sand. Devil's golf course, as I recall, requires a short stretch on a gravel road; my memory or the actual road may have changed since I was last there. You should stop at the Furnace Creek visitor's center, just up the road from the lodging/gift shop at Furnace Creek. Technically, you're supposed to purchase a10 park pass (infrequently enforced) at the center, but the information there is worth the price and time by itself. Stovepipe Wells is nothing more than a gas stop, so can be easily skipped for other things. Think of Furnace Creek as the oasis/resort destination and Stovepipe Wells as the rustic/roughing-it spot. Scotty's Castle (farthest north you can reach in the canyon) or Rhyolite (back up to the NE rim) are interesting diversions, but both quite a drive, so not sure if you could include these. Ask a ranger at the visitor center what's do-able. Also, a drive up to Panamint Springs (past Stovepipe) on the western rim would give you a reverse view from the one you get at Dantes view. Keep in mind the time of day and sun angle, which will greatly affect the view you get. Also don't forget to check road conditions. A couple of years ago, there were terrible floods that washed out sections of 190, but I think these are all repaired now.
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