The Furnace Creek Inn was built by the Pacific Coast Borax Company of Twenty Mule Team fame as a means to save their newly built Death Valley Railroad. Mines had closed and shipping transportation was no longer needed, but mining tourist pockets seemed a sure way to keep the narrow-gauge line active. The borax company realized travelers by train would need a place to stay and wealthy visitors accustomed to comfort would be attracted to a luxury hotel. First opened for business in 1927, the Furnace Creek Inn was an immediate success. Unfortunately for the mining company, their railroad closed forever in 1930 when it became apparent tourists preferred the freedom of arriving to Death Valley in their own cars. Nonetheless, the Inn remained popular and construction continued for the next ten years. Designed by prominent Los Angeles architect Albert C. Martin and landscape architect Daniel Hull, the 66 room Inn sprawls across a low hill at the mouth of Furnace Creek Wash. With views over Death Valley and the Panamint Mountains to the west, the Inn’s location was well chosen and blends into the landscape. Most of the lodging is closed in the summer, when temperatures can surpass 125 °F (52 °C), but the golf course remains open.
The Timbisha Native Americans have lived in Death Valley and at the Furnace Creek oasis, their ancestral homeland, for centuries. The tribe currently live at their Death Valley Indian Community reservation here. The Timbisha people provided many of the artisans and builders to construct the original Fred Harvey Company resort buildings, the Indian Village, and Park Service structures. Springs in the Amargosa Range created a natural oasis at Furnace Creek, which has subsequently dwindled due to diversion of this water to support the village. Death Valley averages less than two inches of rainfall each year. Yet even here, in the hottest, driest and lowest spot in North America, is a thriving desert oasis with areas of wetland habitat, Furnace Creek Resort. In a place as wild and remote as Death Valley, water, though abundant at Furnace Creek due to the natural springs located nearby, is still a scarce and precious resource here and throughout the State of California. From the luxury of Furnace Creek you can enjoy the unspoiled desolation of Death Valley, including spectacular sunrise and sunsets. In addition, Furnace Creek Ranch, just down the road has a golf course, horses for guided tours, and guided hiking advice.
While the decor is authentic old western, make no mistake, this is a luxury hotel with the service and amenities those entail. The Inn at Furnace Creek is a AAA-rated four-diamond resort that pampers every guest. It’s the perfect place to reclaim your senses as you relax near the spring-fed pool, stroll through palm gardens to the sound of the natural springs, shop for unique items in the gift shop, watch a lovely sunset from one of the quaint stone patios or enjoy a cool drink from Stargazers Deck. I was really surprised to find a luxury hotel in such a remote location.
The menu is not the usual burgers and Mexican fare you usually find in desert restaurants although Lisa did have an Angus bacon cheeseburger. The menu includes many sophisticated dishes with a decent wine cellar. The service is attentive and knowledgable, our waiter was particularly nice.
Unfortunately this lovely hotel is completely booked this year through May due to the desert “super bloom” in progress. However you may want to keep it on your short list for next year. As always, I invite your comments.
Furnace Creek Inn: http://www.furnacecreekresort.com/
Furnace Creek Inn History: http://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/historyculture/fcinn.htm
Death Valley Cactus: http://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/nature/cacti.htm