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Mojave Desert Communities - Death Valley:

Furnace Creek, California

When Americans think of an oasis, they conjure up images of “Lawrence of Arabia” and Omar Sharif, or hum the tune “Midnight at the Oasis” by Maria Muldaur. These exotic, romantic, unique, lush and precious environments are almost mythical and the stuff of legend.

One of the most famous, and certainly most visual, is a true American oasis called Furnace Creek Resort, located four hours from Los Angeles and two hours from Las Vegas in the 3.3 million acres that is Death Valley National Park – the largest national park in the contiguous 48 states. It’s here that one million gallons of fresh glacial waters gurgle from the ground every day and create a lush, green stunning oasis complete with Deglet Noor date palm trees, flowering shrubs, a golf course, pools, a trading post and a jewel of a resort dating back to 1927.

The Native Americans knew of the waters of Furnace Creek (and some members of the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe still live on a small reservation at Furnace Creek); the legendary ‘49ers stumbled upon it on their way to California; and the famed Borax Mule Teams used Furnace Creek as a base-camp. Today vacationers, outdoor enthusiasts, stargazers and golfers base camp at Furnace Creek, as well as travelers exploring the national park.

As is the definition of any authentic oasis, Furnace Creek is a natural haven for wildlife and is certified by the Audubon Society. In addition to the kit fox, dessert cottontail and coyotes, there are roadrunners and the cactus wren all living on or near the oasis. The resort is also one of the only gold-tier designated International Dark Sky Parks in the United States where stargazers can actually see the Milky Way with the naked eye.

In the 1930s a resort was built at Furnace Creek and today the destination features two distinct experiences, the luxurious, four-diamond, historic Inn at Furnace Creek and the family-friendly Ranch at Furnace Creek which offers food, water, gas, accommodations, a U.S. Post Office, etc.)

Distinct yet equally exceptional, both of the Furnace Creek properties encourage guests to engage with the iconic surroundings, offering outdoor adventure (day and night), extreme sports, scenic drives and guided tours that speak to the rich history of the destination. Resort guests can take advantage of hiking, cycling, horseback riding and legendary golf—at the world’s lowest golf course, 214 feet below sea level.

And it’s all about the water if you are at an oasis. From the ice in that gin and tonic to the outdoor swimming pools always at 84 ºF thanks to Mother Nature, Furnace Creek is not only a true oasis, but also a truly unique American vacation destination.

Source - Oasis at Death Valley

Nearby Points of Interest and Attractions:

    Furnace Creek Inn

    Harmony Borax Works

    Although this borax refinery operated only from 1883 to 1888, it is important as the birthplace of the famous Twenty Mule Teams. Adobe ruins and an original wagon hint at the industrial activity that once was. Interpretive signs along the short, paved trail tell the story. Located one mile north of Furnace Creek on Hwy 190 west.

    Golden Canyon

    Hikers entering the narrows of this canyon are greeted by golden badlands within. An interpretive pamphlet is available. Hiking options include either a two-mile round-trip in Golden Canyon, or a four mile loop that returns via Gower Gulch. Trailhead located on Badwater Road.

    Artist’s Drive

    Scenic loop drive through multi-hued volcanic and sedimentary hills. Artist’s Palette is especially photogenic in late afternoon light. The 9-mile paved road is one-way and is only drivable with vehicles less than 25 feet in length. Drive starts from Badwater Road.

    Devil’s Golf Course

    Immense area of rock salt eroded by wind and rain into jagged spires. So incredibly serrated that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.” The unpaved road starts on Badwater Road and is often closed after rain.

    Natural Bridge

    Massive rock span across interesting desert canyon. From the trailhead, the natural bridge is a ½ mile walk. The spur road is gravel and often rough. Located off Badwater Road.

    Mushroom Rock


    Lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is a surreal landscape of vast salt flats. A temporary lake may form here after heavy rainstorms. Do not walk on the salt flats in hot weather.

    Zabriskie Point

    Surrounded by a maze of wildly eroded and vibrantly colored badlands, this spectacular view is one of the park’s most famous. Zabriskie Point is a popular sunrise and sunset viewing location. The viewpoint is a short walk uphill from the parking area. Located east of Furnace Creek on Hwy 190.

    Dante’s View

    The most breathtaking viewpoint in the park, this mountain-top overlook is more than 5000 feet above the inferno of Death Valley. The paved access road is open to all vehicles less than 25 feet in length and starts east of Furnace Creek on Hwy 190.

    Twenty Mule Team Canyon

    Winding through otherworldly badlands, this 2.7 mile, one-way loop drive is unpaved, but accessable to all standard vehicles other than buses, RVs, and trailers. Located off Hwy 190, east of Furnace Creek.
Source(s): NPS

Regional Ecosubsection

    Mojave Desert - Death Valley

    This subsection is the alluvial plain of Death Valley, from Sand Spring south-southeast to the drainage divide between Death Valley and Silurian Valley.

Regional Geology

    Furnace Creek Wash

    ... located just southeast of the central headquarters and village area of Furnace Creek. ...

    Central Death Valley

    The sites emphasize mining history, evidence of climate change since the Pleistocene and Neogene extensional tectonics. ...

    Badwater Region

    These sites can be visited while in transit between Furnace Creek and Shoshone or are all within a short easy drive from Furnace Creek. ...

History of Furnace Creek Ranch

Clickable Map of Furnace Creek Area
Zoom out to the Map of Death Valley

Blacksmith shop at Furnace Creek Museum

A red-tailed hawk bides its time waiting for the glimspe of a meal in the distance from the top of a tamarisk tree at Furnace Creek

Date palm trees at the Furnace Creek Ranch

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