Furnace Creek

ImageThe historic Furnace Creek Inn

Leaving Zabriskie Point we rounded a sharp turn and ran right into Furnace Creek Inn.  Rising from rounded mountains, overlooking Death Valley’s famous basin, Furnace Creek Inn is an “elegant hideaway” and has been housing guests for over 86 years.  It is a AAA-rated four diamond resort in the middle of Death Valley.  The Pacific Coast Borax Company built the Inn in 1927.  Designed by prominent LA architect Albert C. Martin and landscape architect Daniel Hull the Inn flows nicely into the surrounding landscape.  Martin’s work includes Grauman’s Chinese Theater.  Hull designed Grand Canyon Village, Old Faithful Lodge and the iconic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park.

ImageFurnace Creek

Furnace Creek is a true oasis located in the heart of Death Valley. Timbisha Native Americans have lived at this oasis, their ancestral homeland, for centuries.  Furnace Creek was formerly the center of Death Valley mining operations for the Pacific Coast Borax Company and the historic twenty mule teams hauling wagon trains of borax across the Mojave Desert.  We decided to top off the tank here as gas stations in Death Valley are few and far between.  It took us three hours to get here…and we were just getting started on the tour. 

ImageWe gladly paid $5.06 a gallon.  That’s right.

Our next stop was the Visitor Center, Borax Museum, and the Death Valley Natural History Association Bookstore.  A bookstore!  Exhibits were enjoyable but I found myself fascinated by the walls and walls of rocks, minerals and fossils discovered in Death Valley.  As well, the history of the twenty mule teams was vastly interesting, as was the outdoor exhibits of various wagons, trains and other items.  Frankly, the more I learned the more I felt sorry for those poor mules.

ImageThe Borax Museum


Twenty Mule Team bells


MASSIVE wheels on this old wagon.  Each wheel was a slice of wood from a tree.


Wagon on display


Train on display

We lunched at the Forty Niner Cafe, which was a fun experience albeit a tad pricey.  Our waiter reminded me of Bilbo Baggins, but taller and thinner.  He had a accent I couldn’t place and his name was Ivan.  I really enjoyed his presence.  The clientele was very international.  We heard German, French, Japanese as well as what we guessed was a local dialect.  …but we don’t know.

ImageThe Forty Niner Cafe’s miner theme chairs;  Our tabletop lacquered artistic map of Death Valley

Out front is Old Dinah – a steam tractor with ore wagons that was introduced in 1894 to replace the twenty mule teams.

ImageOld Dinah

Furnace Creek is where we filled our car with gas, our tummies with food and our brains with facts.  And I bought a cool book and a rock.  We were itching to get back on the road to see more of this incredible place.  Next stop:  Artist’s Drive.

The Route:  I-215 south and out of Las Vegas to Highway 160 west. (Blue Diamond Road); West on Tacoma Road which changes to Old Spanish Trail Highway as it crosses into California; Through Tecopa;  North on Highway 127 through Shoshone to Death Valley Junction; West on Highway 190 into the Death Valley National Park to Zabriskie Point and Furnace Creek; South on Badwater Road/Highway 178 to Artist’s Palette and Badwater Bason; out the 178 to Pahrump and back to Las Vegas.



    1. Yeah, the palm trees were clearly planted – not indigenous at all. They’ve been planted around the Inn and also all around Furnace Creek Ranch. Furnace Creek Inn is gorgeous! It’s not ostentatious at all and really fits in nicely.

  1. Remarkable place. I love so many of the NP lodges and inns, a slice of the past. But this one is simply amazing, considering its surroundings. And the history part, so glad you added the history. I keep studying the old machines, isn;t it mind-pondering, what men were capable of making out of the simplest things. And that wheel! Wood slice! I thought i was looking at a Fred Flintstone quarry truck for a sec, all made out of stone , which was perplexing enough. But a massive tree slice! Oh my…

    1. Exactly! Upon first glance I thought those wheels were made of stone, too, but up close you can see the grain. Wish I could’ve gotten a better pic but it is what it is! Thanks for your nice comment!

  2. Hi Deb, I am in such a hurry today but I had to see your pictures of Death Valley…I live in of course Palm Springs and have been to Death Valley and you captured those images so beautifully, makes me want to drive it again..beautiful work my friend..see you soon..

    1. Thank, Sherri. That was my first visit there but will not be my last. I absolutely adored Death Valley. There’s so much there that isn’t advertised. Maybe that’s for the best, who knows, Death Valley is spellbinding. Thank you for your kind comments.

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