If traveling to Death Valley from Los Angeles, the most direct route is a journey of "Wild West" proportions.
Using my trusty map, I detoured East, on unmarked roads, just south of Red Rock Canyon. Then, north, and East again on another unmarked road towards and through the distopia of Trona.
These roads certainly offer the fastest route(4.5 hours), but large stretches are unregistered and essentially have no law enforcement, maintenance, speed limits, et al. Were one to have car trouble, calamity could ensue. And, if one had car trouble in Trona, one would be wise to be carrying a firearm(see "danger" tips).
Still, I managed the journey unscathed, and would do it again.
If you choose this route, make sure the driver has a good sense of direction and a full tank of gas. Watch out for road runners, passing vehicles, and meth-heads.
And, make sure to enter the National Park via Panamint Springs. Wildrose Rd. appears faster on a map, but is an obscene obstacle course(tip forthcoming) that eats up travel time.
That said, the road blasted through the searing desert landscape is fascinating for an East Coaster like me. (see pics)
If you have no trailer there are motels/inns located at Stovepipe Wells Village and two at Furnace...more
Stayed at stovepipe wells, Death Valley in march 2012. It was amazing. After a long drive through...more
There are campgrounds near Stovepipe Wells and Furnace Creek. There are also camping areas in...more