Off the beaten track, yet accessible, The Oasis at Death Valley is a bucket-list-worthy experience. Two hours from Las Vegas and four from Los Angeles, a trip to Death Valley provides an ideal and unusual destination for escaping and unwinding. It's great for a long weekend or as a venue for an unforgettable destination wedding or family reunion!
Exploring Death Valley National Park
The extreme desert of Death Valley National Park is the land of the superlatives:
- Driest Place in North America. Dry, dry desert, mountains and salt flats comprise most of the Park with an annual rainfall of 2.4 inches.
- Hottest Place in North America. Temperatures have climbed to 134° in the summer. It was 121° the afternoon we visited in June. Last July, records were broken.
- Lowest Golf Course in the World. If you are aching to golf at 214 ft. below sea level, the 18-hole Furnace Creek Golf Course is for you.
- Biggest Park in the Continental U.S. An International Biosphere Reserve, Death Valley National Park is 3.3 Million Acres.
We drove miles and miles of dry, desolate, desert into this Park. After a couple of hours, we crested a hill and, suddenly, there was a lush oasis, the polar opposite of the terrain we’d been immersed in, right ahead!
And, this Oasis was real, not some shimmering illusion.
Visiting The Oasis at Death Valley
My husband and I visited this secret hideaway a decade ago when it was known as Furnace Creek Resort. Back then it closed from Mother’s Day until October because of the oppressive heat. It is now open year-round and has been completely transformed.
Rebranded as The Oasis at Death Valley, it contains two destination properties: the luxurious Inn at Death Valley and family-oriented The Ranch at Death Valley. Xanterra spent more than $100 million to polish this gem, protecting the historical elegance while updating, expanding, and adding state of the art energy conservation.
No longer a one-night stop on the way through the Park, it’s now positioned as a destination resort for those yearning for an unforgettable experience. Trey Matheu, General Manager, told me the summer brings European visitors who want to check some of those superlatives off their Bucket Lists. They are delighted when the temperatures reach insane numbers.
The Historic Roots of The Oasis at Death Valley
Originally, the headquarters for the 20 Mule Team, the elegant inn was built in 1927 by the Pacific Borax Company to lure tourists on the train ride west. It became a hideaway for adventurous travelers and the Hollywood elite, such as Marlon Brando, Jimmy Stewart, Bette Davis, Clark Gable, and Carole Lombard.
I’m going to channel all of those Old Hollywood energies while I swim in the spring-fed pool at a perfect 87°, lounge in a cabana, and stroll through the date gardens.
Thanks to the foresight of the Pacific Coast Borax Company and the National Park Service in having Death Valley declared a National Monument in 1933 and then a National Park in 1994, further development was limited. Today, we can enjoy the same untrammeled beauty of Death Valley that guests did back in 1927.
The Inn at Death Valley
The 66-room The Inn at Death Valley has a AAA Four-Diamond status. Set into the hill, rooms face the Panamint Mountains. The desert vistas and pristine sand dunes delivering stunning views.
Spacious and elegant, our room opened to a seating area on a stone patio overlooking the vast valley.
As we walked from our room through the tall palm trees down to the pool, we heard melodic, bubbling streams. Surprisingly, water is everywhere. The newly resurfaced pool is inviting. It is sourced from the ancient natural spring water that continually flows through, meaning it needs no chemicals or chlorine.
Below the pool, the 22 new casitas border a 60,000 square foot grassy lawn, available for events. The epitome of privacy and luxury, each casita includes a wet bar, a separate bedroom, and a golf cart to navigate the grounds.
Are You Hungry Yet?
Fine dining awaits you at The Inn Dining Room, which is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Take advantage of their local dates from all the date palms (the date bread was fantastic) or enjoy other regional flavors such as cactus for gourmet eating. The blue cheese stuffed dates were delicious.
Phase two renovations will include a chef’s garden, expanding the date groves, and planting citrus and pomegranate trees.
The Oasis Lounge, adjacent to the dining room, has beautiful Western art, including original paintings and bronze sculptures. In the afternoon and early evening, you can enjoy signature cocktails and a limited small plate menu.
Activities in Death Valley
Whether you want to just unwind and relax or prefer to take advantage of the National Park, there is something to do here for everyone.
If You Want to Relax
If you are after relaxation, you can hang out in one of the cabanas around the pool. Sit back, enjoy snacks and drinks from the Inn Pool Café, and take a leisurely dip in the pool.
Adjacent to the pool, step into The Spa. You can relax with head-to-toe pampering in the new treatment rooms.
If You Want an Active and Adventurous Experience
If you prefer to get outdoors and experience Death Valley, there are great adventures awaiting.
There are two tennis courts at the Inn. We played early in the day, before the day's heat. Of course, during the winter months, you can play all day.
There are trails for hiking throughout the park and you'll find great paths as you criss-cross The Oasis at Death Valley.
If you are into rock climbing, there are some incredible natural wonders in the park that are worth the effort to see. The roads through the park are mostly flat, making bicycling easy and fun.
The Oasis at Death Valley can also help you get outdoors. You can take a guided trail ride on horseback or jump on board a hay wagon ride. The Furnace Creek Stables at The Ranch at Death Valley are open October through mid-May.
You can also jump into an off-road Jeep Wrangler with Farabee Jeep Rentals. This is an ideal way to explore Death Valley. You can rent the jeeps yourself or join one of the tours. Farabee Jeep Rentals operate from September 1 through May 31 each year.
For those who want to tee off at the world's lowest elevation golf course, you can book a tee time at Furnace Creek Golf Course. The 18-hole golf course, redesigned in 1997, is also a designated Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary.
Star-Gazing in Death Valley National Park
Stargazing is spectacular in Death Valley National Park. The park is a “Gold Tier” Dark Sky Park according to the International Dark Sky Association.
We drank in the spectacular, psychedelic sunset from our terrace. Soon after the colors faded, the stars appeared. You’ll see the Milky Way like never before. If you visit during the winter or spring months, park rangers hold stargazing events.
The Inn at Death Valley strikes a perfect balance between the historic romance of a vintage hideaway and the pampering amenities you’d expect from a contemporary luxury resort. Be sure to check out Wander for more great outdoor adventures you experience when you travel. We also have great suggestions for other luxury resorts. We at Wander also love national parks, so be sure to see a few of our favorite national parks.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with discounted accommodations and meals for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.