Here is a great idea for a drive. From the highest point in the continental USA to the lowest. Start at Whitney Portal on the slopes of Mount Whitney, and descend to Death Valley.
Begin at Whitney Portal, California, in the Inyo National Forest, situated at 7851 feet above sea level. Whitney Portal Hotel and Hostel also has a general and gift store. They also offer a limited menu of pancakes and burgers. From Whitney Portal, you can view the highest point in the contiguous states in the USA. The summit of Mt Whitney is 14,505 feet above sea level. Be sure to get some dramatic photos of the east face of the mountain from Whitney Portal.
Möbius Arch Loop Trailhead lets you visit one of the most famous and dramatic natural features in the West, due to its appeared in countless films. Mobius Arch, also known as Alabama Hills Natural,Arch, perfectly frames Mount Whitney, it’s a memorable sight. Here are the directions to the trailhead: Take Movie Road. After 1.5 miles you will come to a “Y” in the road. Go right and pull into the dirt parking area immediately on your left. You will see the trail sign on the left side of this parking area; this is where you begin your arch walk. The walk takes approximately 15 minutes, round trip on hilly terrain.
In and around Lone Pine, see the Alabama Hills, which have served as the backdrop for countless westerns, for decades. The hills are dramatically scenic and photogenic. Visit the Museum of Western Film History. It looks like an old theater and offers exhibits detailing the many Hollywood films that were shot nearby. Browse the great gift shop.
Continuing east, Alico and Dolomite are two tiny twin hamlets along the railroad offering some starkly attractive scenes for the photographer. Swansea is home to the Swansea petroglyphs etched into the natural rock. They are the source of scholarly debate, because some of the glyphs mysteriously appear to depict Christian and European symbols.
Now mostly a ghost town, Keeler was once a prosperous mining community, and the terminal for the steamer ships that traversed Owens Lake from Keeler to Cartago. Panamint Springs Resort is an oasis in the dessert, with lodging and a restaurant that gets raves for its food and friendly service.
Stovepipe Wells is a good place from which to see the sand dunes. The saloon here offers a pub food menu in a stone and wood dining room. Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes provide some of the most spectacular scenery along this route, with sand ridges and ripples beneath the bright blue sky. You can climb the dunes and explore them from any angle. They are especially beautiful at sunrise, sunset, and under a starry night sky.
Stove Pipe Wells Resort offers a taste of old Death Valley dating back to the 1920s. For many years it was run by the explorer and publicist George Palmer Putnam–widower of the vanished aviator Amelia Earhart–and his wife Margaret. The resort retains a feeling of romance and remote beauty.
Furnace Creek Resort offers luxurious accommodations and amenities. You can choose from the Ranch at Furnace Creek and The Inn at Furnace Creek. The dining room here is outstanding. Have the chocolate tart to complete your meal.
From Furnace Creek take Badwater Basin Road 17 miles south to Badwater Bbasin. Badwater Basin is the lowest spot in the continental USA at 282 feet below sea level. What a treat to see it with the backdrop so the towering mountains to the west.