Editor's note: Contributors David and Kay Scott passed through Death Valley last week on a Western swing that will also take them to Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Here's an update on what they found in the lodging facilities at Furnace Creek in Death Valley. The Scotts are authors of The Complete Guide to the National Park Lodges.
Work on the final building of this large complex is scheduled to commence in May. The ranch, sister facility of the nearby and more luxurious Furnace Creek Inn, has undergone extensive interior remodeling in all three room classifications. Upgrades include tiled floors and walls in the bathrooms and new carpeting, furniture, beds, bedding, and drapes.
Most apparent are French doors that replace the old sliding-glass units. The French doors are unusual in that one door of each pair includes a window that can be opened to provide room ventilation. The door replacement has greatly improved the interior appearance of the rooms and the exterior appearance of the buildings. The biggest change for many previous visitors has been in the interior appearance of the cabins that were formerly rather depressing, but are now quite pleasant and likely to become the preferred choice of many guests.
Furnace Creek Ranch is by far the largest of the park’s four lodging facilities, with 224 rooms in three classifications: Cabins, Standard, and Deluxe. The cabins are duplex units situated near the front of the complex. Standard units are in two-story wood-frame buildings near the golf course, while Deluxe Units are one-story motel-type buildings that front on a large grassy area.
Rates range from approximately $130 per night for cabin units to $200 per night for Deluxe Units. Actual rates depend on the season, with lower prices during summer months when temperatures can soar to 120 degrees and over. Rooms at the inn, a mile and a half down the road, are approximately double those of the ranch.
Both Furnace Creek Ranch and Furnace Creek Inn are operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, the concession that also manages Crater Lake Lodge, Zion Lodge, and all the lodging facilities in Yellowstone, and those on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. Unlike most national park lodging facilities, including Death Valley’s Stovepipe Wells, the property and structures at Furnace Creek Inn and Furnace Creek Ranch are owned outright by Xanterra that purchased the facilities in 1968 from the Fred Harvey Company.
As a private holding -- the land the facilities are located on is not owned by the federal government -- Xanterra’s operation of the ranch and inn is not subject to the same National Park Service oversight that is applied to most national park lodging facilities.