Explore remote parts of Death Valley, Eastern Sierras, Lake Tahoe & Ghost Towns in a fully equipped overland rental.
7 day curated itinerary
7 days, 6 nights
Start / End
713mi, 14hrs 15min
What you will do
The hottest, the lowest - Death Valley is one of the most stunning places on Earth. This overland road trip to the desert will take you through deep canyons, to epic sand dunes, natural hot springs and gold rush era ghost towns. You will stay at dispersed camping spots, stare at the night sky without any light pollution, eat delicious camp food, share stories over campfire and sleep under the stars. Death Valley National Park, a personal favourite of ours, will take you away from civilization and reconnect you with your thoughts, all in the silence of a breathtaking desert.
Overnight stay at Kern River
Depart from San Francisco Bay Area in the morning and camp along scenic Kern River in this campground not too far from Bakersfield - this a free campground and no reservations are required. Keysville Campground is a perfect overnight stay before heading to Death Valley the morning after.
Drive a narrow road with colorful rocks
Today is a big travel day. Follow the map through Panamint Springs to Titus Canyon Road - this road is cool. It's a narrow road with colourful rock formations, rugged mountains and rare plants and wildlife. Drive to Lost Burro Mine from there. It's one of our favourite mines in the region - it has a cool well-preserved cabin.
Experience remote hot springs
End your day at the Upper Warm Springs (also known as Saline Valley Hot Springs) - if you're looking for some of the most remote warm springs on the West Coast, these are it! This desert gem has 3 "hot tubs" area (we recommend the Upper) - they range in temperature from 95 to 107 degrees. Make use of the natural shower on premises if needed since you're not staying in an organized campground tonight. One thing to note: some folks like to enjoy these hot springs nude.
Climb the tallest sand dunes in North America
Today you will explore the newest geological addition to Death Valley National Park - these sand dunes, our personal favourite, rise suddenly at 600 feet but even then they are dwarfed by the neighbouring Last Chance mountains that stand at 4,000 feet. The climb to the top is steep and challenging but worth it. There are plenty dispersed camping spots around the dunes for you to stay overnight.
See Nevada the way it used to be
While technically not a complete ghost town with 30 year round residents, Gold Point ghost town will take you back a century and a half - it's one of the best preserved ghost towns on the West Coast. A gentleman from Las Vegas, Herb Robbins, won a lottery and purchased and then carefully renovated most buildings while preserving their original character.
Soak in high desert hot springs in Eastern Sierras
Benton Hot Springs are located well off-the-beaten path between Bishop and Mammoth Lakes. This unusual campground comes with 11 private hot tubs, each of them relatively secluded and they book up pretty fast so make sure to book in advance. Even as the weather fluctuates year-round in this high desert area (and can get quite cold), the springs stay hot year round. Stop by the town of Benton as it's one of the oldest towns in California.
Bodie Historic State Park
Once a bustling gold mining town with population of 10,000, Bodie now is a guanine ghost town that invites you to take a step into California's iconic past. Local guides will give you tours of the town and share stories about town's residents from the past. Only a small part of town survives, preserved in the state of "arrested decay".
See Lake Tahoe from above
For some of the most incredible views of Lake Tahoe, hike this moderate 7 mile trail. This peak is at high elevation and offers some of the most incredible views of beautiful Lake Tahoe. There still might be some snow even in the summer time so make sure to wear layers and shoes with good grip. After an immediate climb that's quite intense, the trail opens up along a ridge and stays moderate.
Explore the best of Central Valley
Visit historic towns of Folsom and Winters to finish your trip with the bang. The town of Folsom was established during the gold rush era and was mainly inhabited by the gold miners seeking their fortune in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Stroll down the Main Street to get a feel for California the way it used to be. Your last stop and our personal favourite is the town of Winters, another gold rush era town incorporated in 1875 will take you back in time before you come back to reality after this epic road trip.