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Fall Peaks and Valleys

Keeping the Travels Rolling Into The Fall.

Traveling after the peak summer season is our favorite thing to do and this Fall Peaks and Valleys itinerary is an explosion of activities and colors.  From the lowest points of Death Valley and Napa Valley to the peaks of Mammoth Mountain and Mount Whitney, exploring California and a bit of Nevada in October is a road trip you’ll want to repeat each year.

The California-Nevada Fall Loop. 1780+ miles of Pure Joy

 

For many, balancing work and fun is a lifelong pursuit.  On this particular 16-day / 1780+ mile road trip our goal was to make sure we gave each destination our full attention while doing a little work along the way.  Mountain and road biking, hiking, trail running and simply exploring the local communities we visited were our top priorities.  Having good cell and wifi coverage on selected days was also important and built in as needed.  We easily connected with the activities in all the selected destinations, while squeezing in some work in our mobile office as needed.

Here Are A Few Details & Photos For Inspiration

Day 1. October 3
Destination: Death Valley National Park, CA
Mileage: Encinitas to Furnace Creek Campground, CA via routes 5 / 215 /395 / 32 /190 ~ 321 miles / 5hrs45min
Overnight: Furnace Creek Campground, in Death Valley National Park

Activities: A stop at the Visitors Center in Furnace Creek is not only interesting, but a great way to get helpful tips on how best to explore this incredible park.  Driving through the park, road biking, visiting Artist’s Palette, Badwater Basin, Dante’s View, and Devil’s Golf Course are all musts!  For more insights, check our Navigating Extremes at Death Valley National Park blog by Sonja Saxe, aka. The National Parks Girl

Taking in the views at Artist’s Palette in Death Valley

Biking at sunset through Death Valley

Day 2 & 3. October 4 & 5
Destination: Alabama Hills, CA
Mileage: Death Valley National Park to Alabama Hills / Lone Pine, CA via routes 190 / 395 ~ 107 miles / 2hrs
Overnight: BLM Land in Movie Flatts, Alabama Hills

Activities:  Mt. Biking, Hiking, Rock Climbing and Horseback Riding throughout these vast hills are all options.  Jeeping is also a popular sport for many in this area.  In downtown Lone Pine be sure to visit the Lone Pine Film History Museum, The  Alabama Hills Cafe and the beautiful Eastern Sierra Visitor Center just outside of Lone Pine.

Alabama Hills Camping

Sunset

Cycling around the hills under Mount Whitney

Day 4 & 5. October 6 & 7
Destination: Mammoth Lakes, CA
Mileage: Alabama Hills / Lone Pines to Mammoth Lakes, CA via route 395  ~ 96 miles / 1hr45min
Overnight: Convict Lake Campground

Activities: We’ve been traveling to Mammoth for years, yet somehow missed Convict Lake which is a true gem. Hiking, Fishing, Boating, Casual and Fine Dining at the Convict Lake Resort are all options and are just a short walk from the campground.  Once closer to town and the mountain, your activity and dining options continue to expand.

Arriving at our beautiful campsite on a foggy evening

Fishing on Convict Lake. Boats available for rent onsite

360-degree views surround campsite #77 with a convenient footpath going direct to the General Store and Restaurant

Day 6,  October 8 
Destination: Minden, NV 
Mileage:  Mammoth Lakes, CA via route 395 to Minden, NV  ~ 124miles / 2hr20min
Overnight: Carson Valley RV Resort  Functional and convenient, yet not a scenic campground

Activities: This was a layover day that allowed us to do some laundry right at the RV Resort, take in a yoga class at O2 Yoga & Wellness, go for a swim in the outdoor heated pool at The Carson Swim center and use the computers and printers at The Douglas County Library.  The people of Minden could not be nicer and the 360 mountain views that surround the town are not to be missed.

The Carson Valley Swim Center’s outdoor lap pool!

The very sweet and scenically located O2 Yoga and Wellness Studio

Day 7 & 8. October 9 & 10 
Destination:  Downieville, CA
Mileage:   Minden, NV  to Downieville, CA via routes 395/70  ~ 137miles / 2hr30min
Overnight:  Union Flat Campground (6miles east of Downieville)

Activities: On the way out of Minden, be sure to stop in Genoa NV for a hike or mountain bike ride.  The light fall rains make for perfect trail texture and colorful trees throughout.  Stopping for a beer afterward at the Genoa Bar and Saloon is a must! Once in Downieville, get ready for some wild downhill mountain biking.  Famous it’s for its 15mile downhill ride which descents 4000′. Experience needed and shuttles to the top are available!

Genoa Bar and Saloon

Genoa Bar and Saloon, Genoa, NV

Shuttle from downtown Downieville up to the top of your downhill ride!

Beautiful fall colors throughout the Downieville downhill ride!

Day 9,  October 11 
Destination: Calistoga, CA
Mileage:   Downieville, CA to Calistoga, CA via routes 49 / 29 ~ 175 miles / 3hr30min
Overnight:  Bothe-Napa Valley State Park

Activities:  In this part of Northern California, it’s hard not to take advantage of all the beautiful roads to bike while admiring the colorful vineyards everywhere you look. Here are just a few riding options to consider along with the food options afterward, which are also world class.

Cycling thru the lovely wine country vineyards

Day 10 & 11. October 12 & 13
Destination: Point Reyes Station, CA
Mileage:  Calistoga, CA  to Point Reyes Station via routes 101 / 25 ~ 56 miles / 1hr30min
Overnight: Olema Campground or Samuel P Taylor State Park

Activities: Road riding, hiking, and kayaking are just a few of the outdoor activities in this peaceful area. Sampling the great local foods, especially the oysters and cheese is a must!

Stunning views of Pt. Reyes Lighthouse

Endless road riding along this beautiful coast

Day 12 & 13. October 14 & 15
Destination: Pinnacles National Park
Mileage:  Point Reyes Station to Pinnacles National Park via routes 101 / 154 ~ 162 miles / 3hrs
Overnight: Pinnacles National Park

Activities: There is endless hiking and rock climbing options in this beautiful and unusual National Park.  Getting a campsite is pretty easy during the offseason and narrowing down your choices of activities is the hardest part.  Here’s a helpful link to help plan your stay.

Pinnacles National Park

Show your love of our National Parks with a quality visit!

Day 14 & 15,  October 16 & 17
Destination: Santa Barbara, CA
Mileage: Pinnacles National Park to Santa Barbara via routes 101 ~ 202 miles / 3hrs30min
Overnight: Flying Flags RV Resort & Campground  Buellton, CA

Activities: Road riding, winery visits, restaurants, and gourmet grocery stores are everywhere! We took advantage of them all. For more details on this area visit our Waves to Wine Blog

So many lovely little towns and tasting rooms throughout the Santa Barbara Wine Country. This one was in Los Olivos

Day 16. October 18 
Destination: Encinitas, CA
Mileage: Santa Barbara to Encinitas via routes 101/ 405 /5  ~ 194 miles / 3hrs30min
Overnight:  Home!

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