My husband and I made the three-hour drive from Los Angeles to Death Valley last fall. It was exactly what we expected, a dry, desert highlighted by basically one hotel, the Furnace Creek Inn where we stayed for two nights. For the unfamiliar, Death Valley is very remote area where the temperature soars in summer to unberable highs, making it best to visit in the fall and winter.
It’s definitely worth the drive to the Furnace Creek Resort, which is gearing up for its high season, and the Inn at Furnace Creek which opens for its seven-month season.
The 66-room Inn at Furnace Creek opens Friday, Oct. 7 and closes at the conclusion of Mother’s Day brunch May 13, 2012. To celebrate the seasonal reopening the Inn is offering special rates on standard room types from October 7 through 13. These rates represent 20 percent savings from regular rates. Rates at the Inn normally start at $335 per night.
Fall is perfect for renting a bicycle, which is too hot to handle in summer, from the hotel for $49 a day or $34 a half day and tooling around the area. It’s a fun activity for kids and couples. There’s also self-drive jeep rentals for tooling around the park and two wheelers to explore the more rugged backcountry.
This year the resort has introduced packages for guests who want to combine accommodations with opportunities to explore the park by bicycle or four-wheel drive vehicles. More information on the Death Valley Explorer, the Scenic Downhill Bicycle Tour and the Mountain Bike Adventure packages is available at http://www.furnacecreekresort.com/lodging-promotions-1192.html.
Several backcountry attractions that can only be accessed by four-wheel-drive vehicles. They include the Racetrack, where rocks mysteriously slide across the dry lake bed leaving behind long tracks; Titus Canyon, featuring a ghost town, ancient petroglyphs, and deep, winding narrows; Geologist’s Cabin, a remote stone cabin; and Barker Ranch, a private ranch that was the last holdout of Charles Manson and his followers before his 1969 capture.
Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the continental United States, with more than 3.3 million acres. Only two percent of the park is developed leaving huge areas open for exploration. There are several hundred miles of unimproved roads that can best be accessed by four-wheel-drive, high-clearance vehicles. Vehicles are not permitted to drive off roads within park boundaries.
While July is the hottest month of the year with an average high of 115 degrees Fahrenheit, temperatures drop to average highs of 106, 92 and 76 in September, October and November, respectively when the evenings cool down to comfortable levels.
Furnace Creek Resort is operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Xanterra’s year-round operations include the 224-room Ranch at Furnace Creek; 18-hole Furnace Creek Golf Course, the world’s lowest course at 214 feet below sea level; two restaurants; a saloon; general store; spring-fed swimming pool; tennis courts; the Borax Museum and a service station. In addition, there is a 3,000-square-foot airstrip adjacent to the property.
Xanterra also operates the AAA Four-Diamond-rated Inn at Furnace Creek, open mid-October through mid-May. The Inn includes a restaurant, gift shop, spring-fed swimming pool, tennis courts, lush gardens and conference and banquet facilities. The Inn provides a stunning and lush oasis in a harsh climate thanks to water flowing from nearby natural springs.
For more information about facilities in Death Valley National Park or to make reservations at in-park lodges, call toll free at 1-800-236-7916 or 1-303-297-2757 or go to www.furnacecreekresort.com.