After having left Zabriskie Point we drove straight out to the sand dunes. This is one of the further stops in the park and is isolated and on it’s own. IF YOU VISIT DEATH VALLEY YOU MUST VISIT THESE SAND DUNES! We planned to get out here at sunset because I’ve heard the way the sun hits the dunes as it’s setting is absolutely beautiful. Unfortunately, it was overcast the entire day we were there and even started sprinkling while we were leaving the dunes. So we weren’t going to get that perfect sunset anyways, we got there at 2:15 pm and stayed till 4:00 pm.
The Sand Dunes are definitely where you’ll want to spend majority of your time while in the park. You can walk for miles up and down dunes exploring the entire space. You’ll definitely end up walking a few miles if you want to get some solo shots without a million people around. We probably walked about 1.5 miles out to one of the biggest dunes out there in order to get away from all the people. It was absolutely worth it!
Stop #5: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes: Spend all the time in the world here! I cannot even believe a landscape like this exists in California! I felt like I was in Aladdin or something! Plan to get a ton of sand in your shoes and if you have kiddos, bring some sleds! We saw a lot of families with kids sliding down the dunes.
As we began walking to our car, all ready to pour out the gallons of sand from our shoes, it started to sprinkle! And when I say sprinkle, I literally felt like 6 drops of rain on my forehead and then it was over. But dark clouds were coming in so we were ready to head to the next stop pretty quickly!
Stop #6: Harmony Borax Works: (an unplanned stop on our journey) On our way from the Dunes back to our hotel, we passed a historical landmark sign. And if you know me, you know I’m obsessed with all things history and cannot pass up a chance to read and learn something new about something from the past! We drove up to what used to be the mine where pioneers searched for and mined the mineral borax.
Borax is a mineral used in detergents, cosmetics, and enamel glasses. It is also used as a buffer solution for biochemistry, a fire retardant, and as an anti-fungal compound. It is also used to make insulation in some buildings.
Death Valley’s most successful mineral was borax and the area is very famous for using 20 Mule Team’s to transport the mined borax from the valley to the closest railroad in the Mojave Desert where it was transported to factories and sold across the United States. The mules pulled wagons like this one, below.
After spending about 30 min reading and walking around the old “factory” we made our way to the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center. Here we made our donation, bought some patches for our jean jackets (we’ve been collecting patches for a while now), and grabbed a map of the park before making our way back to our hotel.
Stop#7: The Ranch at Death Valley: FINAL STOP! We stayed at The Oasis at Death Valley- more specifically their Ranch at Death Valley branch of the resort and it was absolutely breath taking. We made it back to our hotel at 5:20 pm and were exhausted! As we checked in, it began to rain a bit harder and we were so glad that we had gotten through all of our stops just in time.
We had two other points of interest that were on our list but upon entering the park, learned that the first point of interest: the Ubehebe Crater location, had been closed off due to the current government shutdown (MAJOR thumbs down for that!), the second point, which I swear you have to look up- Racetrack Playa- we were unable to see due to the fact that it is highly recommended you have 4 wheel drive (we don’t) and the path is famously known for causing flat tires due to the fact that the path is very rocky and covered with sharp stones. Top that off with the fact that you literally have NO cell service, and that very much makes for a disaster waiting to happen. Because of that, we decided against making that trek this trip. But hopefully on the next trip we’ll throw worry to the wind and just do it!
In the valley, as you can imagine, most things are VERY limited. There is one gas station at the very top near where the resort is located and that is it. There is no cell reception anywhere throughout the park except near the resorts as well, where you’ll be able to get wifi if you need it. There aren’t any grocery stores either, so come prepared with snacks and a lot of water! The resorts have your standard gift shops which will of course have some trail mix, gum, drinks but nothing more than that.
Below is a list of where you can stay in Death Valley (all of which are under the umbrella of “The Oasis at Death Valley.” They are just different branches of the resort that are located in different places in the park. The Ranch and The Oasis are down the street from each other, we actually visited The Oasis and walked around after having checked into our hotel. The other two are further away from each other.
Where to stay (in the park):
-The first 4 lodges are all owned under the umbrella of “The Oasis at Death Valley.”
- The Ranch at Death Valley: Accommodations in an open ranch-like setting. This is where we stayed and it was perfect! There’s a borax museum on the property, horse drawn carriage rides, a golf course, gift shop, buffet restaurant, saloon, and a swimming pool. The very site used to be a working ranch before it was turned into a hotel.
- Inn at Death Valley: Built in 1927 this 4 diamond resort is surrounded by the Panamint and Funeral Mountains portion Death Valley NP. They have a natural spring fed swimming pool, palm gardens, tennis, massages, and fine dining.
- Inn Casitas: These newly renovated small “home” like rooms are perfect for anyone doing an extended stay at the park or for groups. Guests get a complimentary golf cart to drive around as cars are unable to get to the rooms.
- Fiddler’s Campground: If camping is your pot of gold, be my guest! I absolutely loathe the thought of camping, but hey, if you wanna do it, they have campgrounds! They also have space for RV’s as well.
- Stovepipe Wells Village: The village here has a pool, very limited wi-fi as it is further out into the valley, a general store, restaurant, and saloon.
- Panamint Springs Resort: A rustic western-style resort located in the Panamint Valley western edge of Death Valley NP. Here they offer a campground, motel, restaurant, gas station, and small store.
Here is a list of places you can eat-all of which are on the resort/hotel properties. There are not any restaurants other than these.
Where to eat:
- 1849 Buffet: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet. Located at The Ranch at Death Valley.
- Last Kind Words Saloon & Steakhouse: Drinks, Bar Menu, and Steakhouse. Located at The Ranch at Death Valley.
- Date Grove Coffee and ‘Cream: Pastries, breakfast sandwiches, and drinks. They also serve ice cream and milkshakes in the evenings. Located at The Ranch at Death Valley.
- The 19th Hole: Burgers, hot dogs, and chili. Draft beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages are served. Located at The Ranch at Death Valley.
- The Inn Dining Room: Fine dining and dress-code enforced. Located at The Inn at Death Valley.
- The Inn Lobby Lounge: Beer, cocktails, wine, appetizers, and lunch and dinner menu. Located at The Inn at Death Valley.
- Toll Road Restaurant: Buffet breakfast and dinner. Western, chuck-wagon style eatery. Located at Stovepipe Wells Village.
- Badwater Saloon: Full bar and lunch and light fare. Located at Stovepipe Wells Village.
- Panamint Springs Resort Bar & Grill: Features wine, beer, pizza, soups, salads, appetizers, sandwiches, and burgers. Located at Panamint Springs Resort.