The Oasis At Death Valley | Death Valley, CA

oOa·sis/ōˈāsis: a fertile spot in a desert, where water is found;
something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast

Death Valley, the name alone sounds foreboding. And yet, for thousands of years, this land has beckoned inhabitants from Indian tribes, to those seeking riches of silver and gold, to the discovery of borax and the successful community built by the Pacific Coast Borax Company, all the way up to current day travel enthusiasts seeking to endure, at times, the most severe conditions in North America to experience this unique destination.

Death Valley is often called the land of extremes. It is the largest national park in the contiguous U.S. and is situated in a basin 282 feet below sea level and rises over 11,000 feet at Telescope Peak. As well as being the lowest point in North America, it is also the hottest and driest place on earth. The calendar year of 1913 recorded both the highest {134 F} and lowest {15 F} temperatures, along with the highest amount of rainfall in Death Valley’s history. These extreme conditions contribute to the striking contrast and extraordinary landscape with ever-changing sand dunes, multi-colored hills, skidding rocks, and jagged mountain peaks that make this area so intriguing.

My curiosity finally got the best of me prompting me to plan a trip to Death Valley, and when I discovered there was a Four Diamond resort {The Inn at the Death Valley} in the middle of this vast desert…well, that sealed the deal!

The Property

The Oasis at Death Valley, formerly known as Furnace Creek Resort, is Death Valley’s best-kept secret in my opinion. When you think of Death Valley, you don’t immediately conjure up a luxury resort, tennis, golf, spa, horseback riding, and margaritas by the pool…but that is exactly what this sanctuary offers. This oasis in the desert consists of two distinct hotels ~ the historic and upscale Inn at Death Valley [Inn} and the family-friendly, adventure-focused Ranch at Death Valley {Ranch}. The hotels are privately owned and operated by The Xanterra Travel Collection, whose portfolio includes operating resorts located in other national parks such as Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Glacier Park, to name a few.

In 2018, an extensive restoration of well over $100 million dollars was completed on both properties which elevated the experience to a whole new level. The Inn’s renovations included updates to the lobby, bar and dining room, refurbishments in all 66 guest rooms, along with the addition of 22 new casitas that were added around the famed gardens. The vintage pool area was updated with the addition of 6 new cabanas, the new Tranquility Spa with two treatment rooms, a fitness center, and the addition of a pool café.

The Ranch’s renovations included a new “Mission-Style” Town Square along with a new restaurant, retail shops, ice cream shop and The Last Kind Words Saloon. At the time of this print, the Ranch is currently in construction adding 40 {80 units} new cottages to the property. What’s wonderful about the completed renovations is that they preserved the historical integrity of the property and managed to make the new additions look like they were original to the property.

The Oasis is located in the village of Furnace Creek which is conveniently the main hub of the park. Aside from the Oasis resort, this village is home to the park’s visitor center, three national park campgrounds, restaurants, post office, gas station, and a private airport.

The Inn at Death Valley

The Inn at Death Valley, formerly known as the Furnace Creek Inn, has a rich and layered history {see here}. This elegant and historic hideaway has been welcoming guests since 1927 and is registered with Historic Hotels of America. The hotel was originally created by Richard C. Baker of the Pacific Coast Borax Company meant to serve those traveling along the now-defunct Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad. Throughout the years, many notable guests have vacationed at the Inn including Marlon Brando, Clark Gable, and John Wayne to more contemporaries such as Patrick Swazy, Matt Damon, Diane Keaton, and First Lady Laura Bush, just to mention a few. Today, the Inn is still captivating its guests who are seeking a bit of luxurious solace while exploring the natural wonders of Death Valley National Park.

After a long drive through the dry and barren desert terrain, you cannot help but take a double look when you begin to see a patch of lush green vegetation in the distance. Is this real? Is this a mirage? But as you approach the Inn, you realize that you are looking at an expansive palm tree grove, one after another lined up like a greeting committee. Then you capture a glimpse of the Inn, with its extensive stonework, Mission Revival style architecture with its stucco walls, red-tiled roof, wrought iron light fixtures, and ceramic pottery strategically placed about. The resort looks like a Grande Dame who has earned her position of stature overseeing the desert landscape.

As you follow the curved driveway around the stone building enhanced with fuchsia bougainvillea and other lush landscape, you arrive at the Valet station pleasantly situated in front of a manicured lawn with a large 3-tiered fountain bubbling with water from the property’s natural springs. A row of date palms creates a border with views of the Panamint Mountains beyond.

As you enter the lobby, it’s immediately apparent that the hotel still reflects its historical roots. The hotel’s lobby, bar, and library are decorated in rich woods, saltillo-style flooring with inlaid painted accent tiles, furniture upholstered in leather and rich fabrics in jewel-toned colors, along with the paintings and photographs hanging on the walls sharing the imagery of the resort’s vibrant past.

GUEST ROOMS

The historic Inn offers 66 rooms in a couple categories, as well as the 22 newer casitas, and one exclusive Pool Bungalow {see here for room descriptions}.

For the most part, the rooms in all of the categories are designed with the same look. The rooms reflect a California-Mission inspired decor with soothing cream-colored walls; dark wood-framed headboards with cream-colored fabric attached with a metal nailhead detail and made up with crisp white sheets; the window coverings are made of attractive patterned fabrics along with local and historic photographs that hang on the walls.

The Standard and Deluxe {slightly larger than Standard} Rooms offer views over the Oasis Garden, Desert Vistas or Panamint Mountains and have a King bed. I thought the rooms on the second floor were particularly nice which offer a shared balcony with seating and views of the Panamint Mountains where you can watch a stunning sunset. All the bathrooms have been remodeled with penny tile in a black and white pattern on the floors and accent tiles in the shower which look authentic to the time period the hotel would have been built. These rooms may be located in either the Main Tower, or on the Terrace Level above the pool. These rooms are accessible through a hallway and will be smaller in size than the Casitas.

Located in the serene Oasis Gardens surrounded by date palms, the Inn’s Casitas offer private, one-bedroom accommodations. Each spacious Casita is over 500 square feet and comes with the use of your own golf cart that is assigned to each room for guests to get around the property, as well as room options with either 1 King bed or 2 Queen beds. Some Casitas have a shared wall that allows you to combine the two units if desired. In addition to the main sleeping quarters, each Casita also has a living room with a sleeper sofa as well as a wet bar, refrigerator, and coffee maker.

I stayed in one of the Casitas {#512} and absolutely loved it. The Casita had a comfortable and spacious living room with vaulted beamed ceilings, a large flat screen tv, a wet bar, coffee station, microwave, and refrigerator; this offered all the conveniences I needed and with these amenities, I could have comfortably stayed here for a while and been quite content. From the living room, there was a french door leading out to a quaint, private patio overlooking the lush landscape and a natural spring-fed pond. This was a perfect location for a morning cup of coffee or an afternoon glass of wine. The well-sized bedroom had another flat screen tv and a pleasant view overlooking the gardens. As mentioned, the Casita came with a golf cart that made traveling around the grounds fun and convenient. I enjoyed taking it to the pool, dinner, and putting around in it throughout the property to capture all my photographs. Because the Casitas are located on the ground level, you will not have the panoramic mountain views from some of the other locations on the property but the Casitas offer a serene garden setting with filtered views of the mountains through the date palm trees. For the best views on property, I do suggest visiting the rooftop viewing deck on the fourth floor of the main building for watching those extraordinary desert sunsets.

The resort offers one distinct room accommodation, the Pool Bungalow. This is a charming, stand-alone unit made with solid stone walls sourced from the surrounding desert, vaulted ceilings, hardwood floors, and offers an impressive view of the Death Valley desert. This unit has a secluded entrance from the main walkway, as well as french doors that lead out to a small deck overlooking the pool that also allows access to stairs that lead directly to the pool. This is likely where you will find the resort’s VIP guests.

Pool Bungalow
Photo courtesy of Xanterra Travel Collection

DINING

There are three dining options at the Inn ~ The Inn Dining Room, the Pool Café and Room Service.

The Inn Dining Room and Bar: Located adjacent to the lobby, the Inn Dining Room offers fine dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The upscale Western decor offers a pleasant setting with a large fireplace, wrought iron candle chandeliers as well as Western-style artwork and sculptures. Indoor window tables or outdoor seating offers impressive views of the desert and the Panamint Mountains. The Dining Room proudly serves a menu featuring classic cuisine with regional flavors such as cactus, citrus, date, and even pomegranate from the Inn’s garden {see menu here}. The Bar, located between the lobby and the dining room, is a perfect place for a cozy conversation, to meet up with friends, or for pre-dinner cocktails or after-dinner drinks. Food service is available at the bar.

For a spectacular view of a stunning sunset, grab yourself a beverage at the bar and head up to the rooftop viewing deck. And don’t forget your camera as the rooftop offers a panoramic view from the sun setting over the Panamint Mountains to the crimson colored reflection on the opposing Funeral Mountain range…both magnificent!

The Pool Café: Is there anything more decadent than lounging poolside or under a cabana and allowing yourself the satisfaction of letting someone else serve you snacks and drinks with little umbrellas in them? I think not.

Ok, I don’t know that they actually offer a little umbrella in your drink but they do make yummy Pomegranate Margaritas made from the fruit on their property, and the Pool Café is the perfect place to grab a bite without having to stray too far from that perfect poolside spot. The casual menu features sandwiches, wraps, salads, sides, and assorted beverages.

Room Service: Room service is available for Breakfast, lunch, or dinner in the comfort of your guest room.

If you are seeking a little more variety, the resort offers a ride to The Ranch where you will find more dining options {see below}.

POOL/SPA

The Pool. This was maybe my favorite feature at the resort. The vintage pool with the inlaid tile palm leaf motif transports you back to the Golden Age of Hollywood. The pool is the main attraction surrounded by the stone-walled structures of the Cabanas, the Tranquility Spa, the Fitness Center, and the Pool Café. The striped lounge chair cushions and bright umbrellas entice you over and invite you to have a seat and stay for a while. Looking up from your lounge chair, enjoy the view of the clear blue skies and the swaying date palm leaves as you decide which libation you will order. And when the warmth of the sun starts to tingle your skin, take a dip in the pool that is filled with the water from the natural springs on the property and is a constant 85 degrees year-round.

The Spa. No resort is complete without fully pampering its guests. The Tranquility Spa offers two treatment rooms along with a full menu of services {here}. Options include a wide variety of body treatments plus specialty services such as reflexology, massages for mommies-to-be, hot stone massage, salt scrubs, and aromatherapy.

EVENT VENUES

The Inn is a perfect location to host a destination wedding or special event. The Mission Gardens provides a beautiful and serene location for wedding ceremonies right next door to the Inn. Say your “I do’s” under the arched Mission wall and take photos among the date palms in the Oasis gardens and capture the beauty of the Death Valley backdrop. Take over the 88-room historic Inn and create a wonderful memory that you or your guests will not forget.

The Ranch at Death Valley

The Ranch at Death Valley is the family-friendly sister property to The Inn at Death Valley and is considered the energetic hub of activity between the two properties. This former working ranch has been transformed into the heartbeat of The Oasis at Death Valley and the perfect home base for exploring Death Valley National Park.

The Ranch is a 224-room hotel with 40 new cottages currently under construction and expected to be completed in Fall 2021. The hotel rooms offer a classic mid-century feel and many rooms open onto patios, while others have balconies overlooking the grounds.

The Ranch has a classic Town Square with towering date palms and mission California architecture where you will find the majority of the shopping and dining options with guest registration for The Ranch across the street. An outdoor courtyard offers a large open fireplace and casual seating for your grab-and-go items. Located in the Town Square is:

The Ranch 1849 Restaurant: Open for breakfast and dinner, featuring a rotating array of items that include breakfast entrees, breakfast meats, and a cold selection of baked goods and assorted fruits. Dinner features a buffet-style full salad bar, a carving station and assorted desserts {Currently closed due to Covid restrictions}.

The Last Kind Words Saloon: This charming saloon {like something right out of a Western movie} offers Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. The saloon is a testimony to the days of a bygone era and features relics of the past such as movie posters, antique firearms, and taxidermied game animals. The menu offers creative dishes such as the Borax Team Chili, Prickly Pear Salmon, and for those with big appetites, order yourself a Tomahawk In-Bone Rib-Eye Steak.

Photo courtesy of Xanterra Travel Collection

Coffee & Cream: A casual food counter that offers everything from ice cream, to coffee, to sandwiches, and more. Be sure to pick up a Date Shake, made from the fruit on the property, and grab some to-go goodies before heading out on your adventure in Death Valley National Park.

The General Store: This store is a perfect pit stop for picking up anything from basic groceries items to t-shirts, to souvenir gifts. You’ll find a good selection of anything you need here.

Activities

The Ranch houses the majority of the activities between the two properties. The Spa is the only amenity located at The Inn. Inn guests need to make their way over to The Ranch for all the activities that are offered. The resorts offer complimentary transportation between the two properties for your convenience.

As if you don’t have enough to keep you busy exploring the Death Valley National Park, here are a few more activities the Oasis offers to their guests:

THE RANCH GROUNDS

The Ranch offers its own pool with the refreshing natural spring-fed water from the property which is always at a pleasant 85 degrees. There are also sports courts and a children’s playground to keep the kiddos busy while onsite. And feel free to Cowboy Up by enjoying some time at the communal fire pits or a game of Horseshoe.

GOLF

The Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley offers an 18-hole, par 70 course that is also the world’s lowest elevation course at 214 feet below sea level. Rated one of “America’s 50 Toughest Courses” by Golf Digest, the course offers golfers the chance to test their mettle against the low elevation, low barometric pressure that will make a golf ball dance in mysterious ways. Palm and tamarisk trees frame the fairways and majestic mountains are visible from all areas of the course, and you might even spot a coyote or two. Savor a signature hamburger along with a craft beer to celebrate a great round of golf at the aptly named “The 19th Hole” of The Furnace Creek Golf Course at Death Valley.

The Stables. The Ranch offers horseback and carriage rides {not available during prime summer months}. Choose between a one or two-hour guided horseback trail ride, or possibly a moonlight ride around the time of a full moon. The forty-five minute carriage ride takes you through the lowest golf course in the world and into the famous Death Valley date palm grove, explore Death Valley as the ’49ers did over 160 years ago!

Enjoy a game of Tennis, Basketball, or Volleyball.

Stargazing: Experience an evening of stargazing in Death Valley National Park. The Park is the largest Dark Sky National Park in the country, and is designated as a “Gold Tier” Dark Sky Park, the highest level awarded. Furnace Creek is distant enough from the major cities in the Southwest to provide an unobstructed view of the night’s sky, and both the resort and the National Park Service have taken measures to greatly minimize light pollution in the area.

On a personal note: Prior to my visit I had been following Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite launches from my home and had been captivated by the lights. During my stay at the Inn, a buzz started brewing on the outside patio one evening with everyone looking up which prompted me to look up to witness another satellite pass-over but this time the lights had such an extreme brightness and clarity that made the experience so much more extraordinary. Good thing I knew what they were, otherwise, I would have thought that aliens were about to land.

Rent a Jeep. Take one of the top-of-the-line, off-road-ready Jeep Wranglers through spectacular canyons, from Ubehebe Crater to the Racetrack, past historical mines, and through Badwater – the lowest area in the Western Hemisphere. Most trails in the area are moderate for easy navigation and driving, but offer unparalleled scenic views and adventure only available when you leave the paved highways behind. There are several sites in the park where you need to have a Jeep rental to explore the park.

Explore the Borax Museum in Furnace Creek. This outdoor museum illustrates Death Valley’s connection to borax mining and features pioneer-era mining and transportation equipment, including “Twenty Mule Team” wagons, carriages, and a steam locomotive. Stop by the small museum building, the most historic structure in the park, and see artifacts from the borax mining era.

Oh right, and then there’s Death Valley National Park! The Oasis is centrally located close to some of the most popular attractions such as Dante’s View, Badwater Basin, Devil’s Golf Course, Zabriskie Point, and Artists Palette. See {here} for my post on what I did in the Park.

Don’t forget the surrounding ghost towns, and for other ideas, see {here}.

Summary

When I first heard about this Oasis in the middle of Death Valley, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. What I discovered is a resort that has a rich history and has many stories to tell from the past century.

The definition of Oasis is a fertile spot in a desert, where water is found; something that provides refuge, relief, or pleasant contrast. This truly describes The Oasis at Death Valley with its natural spring-fed waters, its lush landscape, and all the luxuries you would never expect in the middle of nowhere.

Death Valley is a place of unexpected beauty, mystery, and intrigue…someone still needs to explain those skidding rocks to me. Although the height of the summer months do get extremely hot, the remaining months throughout the year provide optimal weather for enjoying this incredible world wonder.

This website is about highlighting unique resorts that defy the ordinary, and I do believe that this desert oasis fits the bill perfectly.

“Only here will you find a one-of-kind resort, within a one-of-a-kind oasis, within a one-of-a-kind national park, sure to give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

The Oasis at Death Valley

**Note**: The Inn at Death Valley is running at minimal capacity for the summer of 2021, full operations will resume in August 2021. Only the Casitas at the Inn are available for reservations during the summer months and the rest of the facility will be non-operational. The Inn guests will need to go to The Ranch for dining and other amenities. Call to confirm details.

The Oasis at Death Valley
Death Valley National Park
Highway 190
Death Valley, CA 92328

www.oasisatdeathvalley.com

Susan Edel
Susan Edel


Susan Edel is a travel writer who specializes in luxury travel and resorts. She is the founder/editor of http://www.NoOrdinaryResort.com, a website featuring some of the most luxurious resorts in the U.S. and beyond.

Susan enjoys inspiring people to experience the joy of luxury travel, exceptional resorts, and unique experiences through her writing and original photography. Life Is Too Short For Ordinary.

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