Postcards & Passports

Where to Stay in Death Valley

Death Valley is the second largest national park in the United States. 5300 square miles of desert, canyons, badlands, and mountains straddle the California-Nevada border. With stunning views, geologic wonders, a fascinating history, and an ever-changing landscape, it’s no wonder nearly one million visitors visit every year. You may be one of those future visitors wondering where to stay in Death Valley. Read on to see my recommendations…

Right in the middle of Death Valley

Because there is so much to see in Death Valley, the best place to stay is right in the middle of the park. That way, you don’t have to go far to explore. Plus if you want to take a break in the middle of the day, it’s so convenient. There is lodging in nearby towns, but the closest are at least 40 minutes outside of the park. Within the park, there are three hotel options: Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel, The Ranch at Death Valley, and The Inn at Death Valley. There are also a few campgrounds — nice for the winter, but I can’t imagine camping during the summer months.

From the hotels at Furnace Creek, you can be at Zabriskie Point within 5 minutes. Just a few minutes drive south, and you’ll be enjoying the Golden Canyon, Artist’s Palette, and Badwater Basin. And turning north will get you to Salt Creek, the Harmony Borax works, and Mustard Canyon within a few miles. (If you’d like to see more of our itinerary with photos, check out Our Death Valley Anniversary.)

Stay where you can beat the heat

Unless you are visiting in the winter, heat is an issue. It is a desert, after all. There are safety precaution signs all over the park, reminding you to carry plenty of water with you and to stay out of the sun during the hottest times of the day. My husband and I enjoyed waking early to see the sunrise, and to hike and see many sights. When the temperatures soared to over 100 degrees F., we returned to our hotel to enjoy the air conditioning and the swimming pool, a lunch meal, and even an afternoon nap.

Stay in an oasis

Drive into Death Valley, and within minutes you’ll know you’re in a desert. The vistas are expansive. The mountains are rugged and beautiful. But it is definitely dry and mostly barren. Until you get to Furnace Creek. And that’s because there’s an oasis at Furnace Creek, created by underwater thermal springs. So you’ll see lots of palm trees, gardens, and even a golf course.

Both the Inn and The Ranch at Death Valley are beautiful places to stay because of the contrast: life-giving springs and all they produce…against the backdrop of a stark desert landscape.

Stay in a place with a rich history

Death Valley has been welcoming tourists since the first tent city was established at Furnace Creek in the 1920’s. When there’s 80,000 gallons of water rising to the surface every day, it’s not a place to ignore! The Pacific Borax Company mined and hauled borax out of the valley with their famous 20-mule teams. Of course, the miners and mules were camped at Furnace Creek.

In the late 1920’s, the Pacific Borax Company built the Furnace Creek resort. It didn’t take long before Hollywood celebrities realized what an amazing place it was, too. It became a winter getaway spot for Ronald Reagan, Clark Gable, and many others.

And nearby is where George Lucas filmed scenes from the original Star Wars movies.

Over the years, the Furnace Creek resort grew in popularity. Now it has undergone a major $100 million dollar investment and a name change. It is called The Inn at Death Valley. The Inn has 66 updated rooms, an additional 22 private casitas with use of a golf cart, a new pool cafe and spa, a new library, renovated restaurant, tennis courts and stunning spaces for weddings or other events.

Where did we stay at Death Valley?

I must confess that I usually look for the most economical options when I travel. But for our anniversary, I really wanted something a little more special. Okay, even a luxurious setting! I got that at The Inn at Death Valley.

My room was spacious and had a balcony overlooking the oasis gardens. There was even a fireplace, which would have been nice in the winter, because ambience is everything! Bathrobes and wonderful-smelling toiletries were another special touch. There was even a bathroom scale so I could see that all my hiking paid off!

I loved the stunning photos of park locations displayed in the hallways. They inspired me to get out and see more of them. (By the way, hotel staff are very enthusiastic about Death Valley and have great tips for what to see!)

Other locations around the hotel, like the library and restaurant, had amazing American Western paintings. I appreciated the cool underground tunnels connecting the parking lot to the hotel and pool areas — so nice for staying out of the heat during the day.

At night, we were able to enjoy the stargazing terrace where you can see the Milky Way galaxy with the naked eye. (Death Valley is one of only 8 designated “gold tier” International Dark Sky Parks in the United States.)

And the luxurious pool, that’s always about 84 degrees, was heavenly! It’s a thermal-spring-fed pool that doesn’t need to be chlorinated because the water flows out to the gardens and is constantly being replenished.

Room rates are in the $300-$400+/night range with discounts offered for AAA and AARP. See offers and packages here.

Or you can stay at The Ranch

The Inn’s sister property is The Ranch at Death Valley. It’s just minutes away and also enjoys a very central location in the park. The feeling here is charming and historic too. While it used to be a working ranch, it now reflects mission California architecture. With its lovely central plaza and fountain, to its General Store and Last Chance Saloon, The Ranch is very family-friendly and lots of fun for the kids. This is also where the world’s lowest golf course is — at 214 feet below sea level! The Furnace Creek Golf Course is also an Audubon-approved bird sanctuary.

We strolled through The Ranch and enjoyed ice cream cones at the ice cream counter, souvenirs in the gift shop, and the Borax Museum onsite. The Last Chance Saloon is especially fun with its themed art and decor. There’s also a swimming pool, sports courts, horseshoe pits, playground, outdoor fireplace and firepits.

Rooms at The Ranch run about $190-250+/night and also offer AAA and AARP discounts if you book through their website. Sometimes you can get a slightly cheaper rate from Booking.com.

Please come!

I hope I’ve convinced you to visit Death Valley National Park. It is unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else in the world. My visit was truly wonderful and eye-opening. Part of that experience was appreciating the contrasts between the park extremes and the comforts and even luxury offered at The Inn at Death Valley. Whether you opt to stay at The Inn or family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley, I know you’ll make memories to last a lifetime!

Note: As is common in the travel industry, I was offered a media discount for my room at The Inn. I can assure you my review is a sincere reflection of my experience. I would like to thank The Oasis at Death Valley and Christine Sceppe for the time she spent showing me The Inn and sharing her love of Death Valley.

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16 thoughts on “Where to Stay in Death Valley

  1. Alyson Long

    That Oasis is pretty spectacular! It looks just like Egypt. And I’d agree, stay in the park. We stayed outside Kakadu recently because hotels in the park were crazy expensive but then the driving in and out were just too much. I always presumed those Star Wars scenes were in Tunisia …now I know otherwise. Thanks.

  2. sherianne

    Death Valley is one of my favorite National Parks. The Inn at Death Valley has a great location. The property looks like an oasis in the middle of the desert. I bet the pool feels amazing after a day of hiking in the park

  3. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    I am missing dark skies right now. After 18 years in Arizona and a few years in San Diego with desert access, I am now in Florida and the night sky isn’t the same. Staying overnight in Death Valley under a blanket of stars sounds like exactly what I need right now.

  4. Kathleen

    Such beautiful options for places to stay. The oasis is so odd in the middle of such a harsh climate. I had no idea it was there. I love the desert, but I’m not sure how I would feel about it in the summer time. The star gazing sounds fabulous and you would probably find me in the pool a lot.

  5. Emma

    Wow looks so stunning! I’m heading this way in November… The Ranch looks AMAZING but not sure if it’ll be in my budget – regardless would love to check out the area. I’m hoping November will be a little cooler but would still love a pool for the day time.

    1. Tami Post author

      The pools are fed by thermal springs, so they’re warm year-round! Nothing beats the convenience of being right in the center of Death Valley. Keep an eye on Booking.com, as they sometimes have lower prices for the hotels.

  6. Debra Schroeder

    You had me at underwater thermal springs. I’ve never been to Death Valley but may pop out there later this year. The Inn looks lovely although pricey, will have to check out the rates.

    1. Tami Post author

      The Inn might be more of special occasion price range, but the Ranch is certainly more affordable, especially for being in the middle of the desert! They also have a thermal spring-fed pool.

  7. Renata

    Wow, the Death Valley really looks overwhelmingly beautiful! Like you, I also rather look for cheaper room options – usually, on travels, I just spend the night in the room so I want it clean and comfortable, but cannot cherish any luxury, anyway. But yes, for a special occasion, that’s totally different, of course.

  8. Theresa

    I have never even considered visiting Death Valley but these accommodations are tempting although I am generally a budget traveller. Are there any budget options in the park besides camping?

    1. Tami Post author

      Initially, I wondered the same thing. You do have to go out of the park to find any budget options. After making the drive to Death Valley, I could completely understand why a hotel in the middle of the park would be more expensive. Just think about the expense of getting supplies delivered, and the upkeep on buildings that are constantly subjected to the extremes of nature!

  9. Suruchi

    Death Valley Park is surely our type of place. The inn is where we too would love staying. It actually looks cozy and luxurious. Morning hike is a good tip and starting at stars at night will be super awesome. Your pictures are great too.

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