Bicycling is an extremely popular activity in the Death Valley region, allowing active travelers to explore the region in a silent, engaging, low-impact manner on their own or while participating in one of Death Valleys’ annual cycling retreats, century rides, or ultra-distance bicycle races.
Wonderful wildlife can be observed in America’s Outback by the respectful traveler. Jackrabbits, cotton tails, ground squirrels, kangaroo rats and other mice and many lizard species are very common. Coyotes and bobcats are also plentiful but less easy to spot. In higher elevations, mountain lion, Dahl sheep, ringtail cats and other species and more are there if you know how to look. Some species, such as the desert pupfish and tortoise are endangered and only found in this area. Please be very respectful of all wildlife, and never offer human food, destroy habitats, or try to touch wildlife. For example, picking up a desert tortoise is guaranteed to result in its death.
Watching the desert fill with carpets of brilliant wildflowers is an experience unlike any other. Flower seasons are dependent on rains for the previous five months, as well as temperature and wind. Watch the calendar for announcements January through April, with flowers in the higher elevations throughout the summer.
If you love to play tennis, the Furnace Creek Inn has two tennis courts available for guests, and the Furnace Creek Ranch has four. Basketball and vollyball facilities area also available. In Shoshone, courts are available on the High School Grounds, right behind the Shoshone Inn and Shoshone Trailer Park and Camp Ground.
America’s Outback is the driest region in the western Hemisphere. However, that won’t stop you from swimming! Opportunities range from heated pools (some are natural with geothermal waters) to an open reservoir.
Pristine desert skies, out of range of most light pollution from urban areas, make possible night sky vistas that most people do not experience in a life time. The New Moon phase is the darkest, so bring your telescope or use one of ours. Monthly Star Parties are held at the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort, and Night Sky events are offered in Furnace Creek as well.
Gift Shops in America’s Outback offer a wide range of enticing merchandise, from polished stones, clothing and jewelry, to Native American and other fine art, fascinating books on local lore, toys and gifts. Healthy products include locally produces clays, soaps and honey, jams and other preserved foods. And don’t forget to take home a selection of locally grown dates or date baked goods from China Ranch.
It is illegal to remove anything at all from Death Valley National Park or from privately owned lands, so be very aware of where you are. However, on some public BLM lands, you are welcome to search for rocks, whether just a personal favorite or a particular mineral or geological sample you’ve been pining for. Guide books are available in all Visitor’s Centers.
Photographers who visit America’s Outback will find themselves overwhelmed by a sense of rapture at the striking variety of subjects to be photographed in this amazing area. From sunrises to sunsets, vast desert to thriving wetlands, wildflowers, wildlife and vignettes of history, there is something for everyone here. In addition to great artists like Ansel Adams, this area has long been used by commercial photographers to capture unique backgrounds for movies and advertisements. Unless you leave the lens cap on, it is hard to take a bad picture here in America’s Outback.
Enthusiasts of sail planes and paragliders have enjoyed some spectacular flights in America’s Outback. However, flying here is a serious proposition — it is not for beginners. There is no support available — you are on your own! Winds are gusty and highly unpredictable. Spring and Fall offer the best flying conditions, but the winter months can offer calmer conditions better suited to training for the less experienced.
Off road vehicles are not permitted anywhere within the Death Valley area. This is a fragile landscape that takes years to recover! Wagon tracks from the Old Spanish Trail are still visible for miles. Off road recreation is offered in Amargosa Valley, Nevada, to the north and at Dumont Dunes, south of Tecopa. Contact the BLM for more information.
Museums in America’s Outback come in many shapes and forms: Museums, Visitor and Interpretive Centers, Murals, Walking Tours, Driving Tours and the historic towns that provide a region-wide journey in the area’s history. The Shoshone Museum and the Borax Museum (Furnace Creek) both have indoor and outdoor displays. Try Shoshone’s Walking tour, and don’t miss the Post Office Mural. Death Valley National Park and the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge both offer Interpretive Centers. Many other destinations also offer excellent historic displays and interpretations.
Discover the back roads of America’s Outback, secret scenic locations, untouched historical sites and roads less traveled. Many wonderful locations are fine for the average vehicle, while others require higher clearance or even four-wheel drive. Consult with your host at all lodging facilities, or pick up an excellent guide for the area of your choice at either Visitor’s Center.
At Tecopa Hot Springs Massage, licensed therapist Karin Pine provides her unique brand of Massage that Works!(tm) healing bodywork-massage treatments. Unlike most spa or massage school treatments, your session will be individualized to effectively and immediately resolve your specific physical issues, stresses or injuries. See her listing under Services.
In addition to hot springs soaks, Tecopa Hot Springs Resort offers an ozone steam sauna cabinet and Furnace Creek Inn offers massage seasonally, as well as a sauna for guests. See their listings under Lodging.
To help you make the most of your adventure and ensure that you don’t miss anything important, some destinations have developed signs along their walks or trails to inform you about everything from plant and animal species to special vistas and historical highlights.
The hot springs of Tecopa are famous throughout the world for their healing properties. Lean back, let the water swirl around you and feel relaxation like you’ve never felt before. Chose from a variety of venues, each with their own unique support services, such as massage, aroma therapy and more.
For the horse lover, Death Valley can offer a wonderful experience and unfettered vistas. Horseback Riding & Carriage Rides are available at the Furnace Creek Ranch seasonally, October – May.
November is the best time for History events, beginning with Shoshone’s Old West Days (1st November weekend) and continuing through the 49ers Encampment at Furnace Creek. However, keep your eye on the Calendar for the Death Valley History Conference and other special events.
Opportunities abound in America’s Outback for hikers of every skill level. So pack your water bottle and camera, and head out in almost any direction. Most of the county is made up of National Forest, BLM, or National Park Service protected areas. Guide books and maps are available at both Visitor’s Centers, and almost anyone you meet can offer suggestions. The desert can be a dangerous place, so do be sure to consult with someone before setting out, and leave word of where you will be. Many destinations also offer interpreted trails, to keep you in the know as you go.
It may be difficult to keep your mind on your game with the beautiful Panamint Range and other expansive Death Valley vistas as a backdrop. However, if you’re game, the lowest course in the U.S. can be found at Furnace Creek in Death Valley.
While traveling with children, a playground is always a welcome site. Wonderful playgrounds are available at the Furnace Creek Ranch, and at the Tecopa Hot Springs County Park, within walking distance of local lodging.
America’s Outback has a wide variety of campgrounds, with camping facilities available in each of the main communities. Outlying areas can also be reached as day trips. The Wild Rose Campground, high up in the park, is wonderful when lower sites are heating up.
Located on many major routes, migratory birds can be viewed in great numbers during spring and fall months in America’s Outback, especially March and April. They can be observed in canyons, near springs and throughout area wetlands in the region. Over 100 species have been documented at China Ranch alone. Other species take advantage of unique habitat features and stay year round.
Many spectacular places can be enjoyed from a bicycle in America’s Outback. Within Death Valley National Park, a bike lane is provided in the Furnace Creek area. All other paved roads in the region are narrow two-lane roads without shoulders. Many are frequented by commercial vehicles and RVs, so we recommend caution when sharing these roads. However, there are hundreds of miles of dirt roads throughout the Death Valley, Shoshone and Tecopa area, where bikers can enjoy vast vistas, wildlife and the sound of the wind. Don’t forget your water!
Enjoy the wide range of individual expression inspired by America’s Outback, whether in the corridors of the Furnace Creek Inn, or ot the Tecopa Basin Artist Group’s Galley (at the Tecopa Hot Springs Resort), or enjoying an organ performance at Scotty’s Castle or at the one-of-a-kind Amargosa Opera House.