Shoshone, California

This desert town to the southeast of the national park was once a railroad center and rest area for local miners. It still serves as a service hub with food, gas, lodging, supplies and RV sites.

Reinvention, renovation and an emphasis on the natural world around them are continuing themes for the entrepreneurs running hospitality businesses on the south-eastern edge of Death Valley National Park. In Tecopa, Shoshone and Death Valley Junction hotel proprietors are focusing on their unique geography, history and eco-biology to offer visitors an unusual desert experience.

In Shoshone, town proprietor and desert advocate Susan Sorrells is adding to the lodging opportunities available with a few stand alone properties. In addition to the Shoshone Inn, which offers 17 upscale rooms, guests can now book though Air B-and-B for a remodeled vintage trailer called Dutch’s Retreat, a historic cabin called Black Rock, or the Mojave Bunkhouse, designed for group stays. The Shoshone RV Park also offers tent camping and all guests in Shoshone have access to the town’s delightful warm springs swimming pool. Meals can be had all day and evening at the Crowbar Café and saloon, offering traditional diner and Tex-Mex fare.

Shoshone keeps a naturalist on staff to help visitors to this eco-village find their passion. Options include environmentally responsible off-road tours, wildlife viewing at the Pupfish Pond natural area, dark night skies, bird watching and plenty of hiking.

New in Shoshone this season is Karin Pine’s Transformational Bodywork Clinic. In her well established former practice, Tecopa Hot Springs Massage, Pine developed “a very effective and unique form of healing massage as part of the healing experience of visiting the desert.”

Out in Death Valley Junction the Amargosa Hotel is continually upgrading in small ways. The nonprofit Amargosa Opera House foundation that runs the facility is careful not to disturb the historic character of the hotel while working to make its 16 rooms as comfortable as possible for modern day visitors. Guests experience the real history of the place, says manager Bobbi Fabian, enhanced by understated details, such as new beds, fluffy pillows, fresh paint and friendly service. To encourage immersion in the desert silence and enjoyment of the truly dark night skies, there are no TVs in the rooms. An on-site restaurant serves California cuisine style breakfast and lunch in a historic setting with windows onto the desert.

Marta Becket’s Amargosa Opera House lost its famed founder in 2017 but continues to offer a wide variety or quirky, clever, and unusual entertainment to its fans and visitors. From original interactive murder mystery plays to unusual opera, ragtime and the Nutcracker ballet at Christmas, the venue seeks to honor Becket’s legacy of promoting the arts.

Nearby Tecopa is also rich in hiking opportunities, most notably the Grimshaw Lake Natural Area and watchable wildlife site, and the Amargosa Canyon. Accessing the extraordinary desert vistas of the Amargosa Canyon is easy now that an official trail head, with picnic ramadas and a pit toilet, exists at the edge of the parking lot of the China Ranch Date Farm. Stop here to see a working farm in a desert oasis, stock up on local dates and a trail guide at the gift shop.

Shoshone Inn

Shoshone Inn: The recently remodeled Shoshone Inn offers a touch of comfort in the desert. Photo by Robin Flinchum