Southern California

The 6 Best Hotels For a Weekend Getaway at Death Valley National Park

Don't let the heat scare you. A journey into Death Valley is full of unexpected surprises, so pick the right hotel and spend the night there

The first time I drove through Death Valley, I totally understood what the name was all about. My journey on California State Route 190 was rather routine at first — full of the same old desert scenery you’d expect outside Las Vegas. Then it suddenly became strikingly beautiful with colorful, rolling sandstone formations with crystallized minerals that sparkled in the sun. Mile by mile, the temperature gauge continuously increased as the elevation decreased.

No matter when you visit, the area is always compelling for a weekend getaway – either from Nevada or California. Covering more than 3 million acres, the largest national park is a captivating attraction for those with an appreciation for nature, the heat of the sun, and fascinating landscapes. The wild swings between tall mountain peaks and low valleys represent Death Valley’s depth and diversity. It’s not a typical tourist destination — and it doesn’t have the wide array of resorts found a few hours away in Las Vegas — but if you choose to spend the night, there are a few enticing Death Valley hotels worthy of your attention:

Cool Off in a Hotel with Pool Near the Death Valley

Pahrump lies between Las Vegas and the southeast corner of Death Valley. The town has its fair share of hotels, but the Holiday Inn Express is the newest and nicest with a modern, minimalist style that feels clean and comfortable. An outdoor pool, full gym, and free breakfast are all welcome touches.

Located in the heart of town, the hotel is a short walk to the slots and table games of the Gold Town Casino and Pahrump Nugget. It’s also a five-minute drive from the Pahrump Valley Winery, which includes a great steakhouse (the best restaurant in town), property tours, and a shop for picking up a few bottles to go.

Traveling by car, you’ll reach the entrance of Death Valley National Park in about 45 minutes. The route passes through Death Valley Junction, a historic intersection that’s best known for the now-neglected Amargosa Opera House. A more satisfying detour is the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, home to Devil’s Hole, a geothermal pool with no known bottom.

Once inside Death Valley National Park, the road travels between some of the most colorful and engaging rock formations in the region. The best views are from Dante’s Peak, although Zabriskie Point is closer to the main road.

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Pahrump, an IHG Hotel

Top rated
9.3 Excellent (3484 reviews)

Feel in a Historic Village and Adult Summer Camp

If you need a destination that’s even more remote and quiet in Death Valley, Stovepipe Wells has an off-the-grid feel that’s hard to match. About a half-hour north of Furnace Creek, the resort covers all the basics without having to step foot off property. Take a swim in the pool and retreat from the sun underneath a covered patio.

Fill up on steaks and burgers at the Toll Road Restaurant while sipping on a whiskey cocktail. If tables are full, an abbreviated version of the same menu is offered next door at the Badwater Saloon, a watering hole with cowboy decor and ice-cold draft beer. Between the gift shop and a general store across the street, you’ll leave with plenty of keepsakes.

The architecture is a bit sterile for a true historic village feel but overall, Stovepipe Wells packs a lot of charm in one place. Guest rooms are inside single-story buildings scattered throughout the property. Sometimes the layout almost feels like a summer camp for adults, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The rooms aren’t fancy, but were updated over the years and feel clean and comfortable. The walk-in showers are the highlight of the bathrooms.

The surrounding desert scenery isn’t as dramatic as other areas of Death Valley, although the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are a striking sight that seem to pop up out of nowhere. Hikers and rock climbers will enjoy exploring the formations at Mosaic Canyon. Even though it’s about an hour drive away, Stovepipe Wells is also the closest hotel to the trials surrounding the Ubehebe volcano crater.

Stove Pipe Wells Village

Death Valley
7.3(82 reviews)

Enjoy a Spanish Villa in the Heart of Death Valley

The Inn at Death Valley is a historic, full-scale resort deep in the heart of Death Valley. Located below sea level, the hotel feels like a remote escape without sacrificing luxurious amenities. Take a dip in a swimming pool filled by warm springs or relax with a beauty treatment at the spa. For the best combination of space and comfort, book one of the casitas, which are among the newest and largest rooms.

The property is modeled after Spanish-style villas and makes an immediate impression with a valet drop-off that climbs up the side of a mountain, making it easy to check in and drop off luggage before parking the car. A grass-filled courtyard and fountain overlook the valley with views that are especially engaging during sunset.

The hotel is close to Furnace Creek, the only real, full-fledged town inside Death Valley. It’s where you’ll find the park’s official visitors center, a gas station and a few other businesses. Badwater Basin is a popular photo spot often described as the lowest point in North America, although that designation is actually reached with an extended three-mile hike. Exploring the basin’s salt flats has a surreal feeling of “walking on water” and you may even taste the salt as the wind blows it into the air like dust. Be warned — the heat can be excessive during peak mid-day hours.

Hotel The Inn at Death Valley

Top rated
Death Valley
8.6 Excellent (1798 reviews)

Have Fun in a Hotel With Casino and Vintage Decor

The Longstreet Inn & Casino is yet another example of the endearing, unexpected surprises in and around Death Valley. The 60-room, two-level resort is just outside the national park on the Nevada side of the border, allowing the lobby to include a small casino that has the feel of an old-time cowboy saloon. The entire property is decorated in historic decor, including wagon wheels and old mining equipment. The backyard alone is worth a visit all by itself with a lagoon, waterfalls, wooden gazebo and a petting zoo that counts a bison, burro, and lamb among its animals.

The rooms feature vintage furniture and a valet counter with an extra sink. Request one with a patio or balcony overlooking the backyard. The Longstreet Inn also includes more than 50 RV parking spaces, a small gas station, convenience store, and full laundry facilities. Order a meal at Jack’s Cafe in the lobby or the more formal Nebraska Steakhouse on the second floor. Longstreet Inn is a few miles north of Death Valley Junction and within an easy drive to the Death Valley National Park entrance on 190.

Longstreet Inn Casino

Top rated
Amargosa Valley
8.6 Excellent (2115 reviews)

Stay in a Family-Friendly Oasis in the Middle of Death Valley

The Ranch at Death Valley dominates the small town of Furnace Creek and has a variety of outdoor amenities, making it attractive to families traveling with kids. Go for a swim in a spring-fed pool, ride a horse on a local trail or take a turn on one of two tennis courts. Much of the resort’s identity is connected to the Furnace Greek Golf Course, billed as the lowest-elevation 18-hole course on the planet. It also includes a driving range for guests who just want to knock a few golf balls around.

Single-story ranch-style accommodations mix with waves of green grass and palm trees, making the hotel feel like a true oasis in the middle of Death Valley. It’s next to an abandoned military runway that’s occasionally used by private aircraft. Furnace Creek has a number of private businesses, including Farabee’s, which rents out jeeps for day trips, and Timbisha Tacos, a locals’ favorite, in neighboring Indian Village. Death Valley National Park’s official visitors center is within steps of the resort. The employees are a resource for helping choose activities and hikes based on the weather of the day.

The Ranch At Death Valley

Death Valley
8.2 Very good (5535 reviews)

Choose Beatty for Its Old-Time Charms

If you plan to approach Death Valley from the northeast, the Stagecoach Hotel & Casino in Beatty is a great choice. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the rooms were dramatically upgraded in recent months with a fresh, modern appearance that includes new furniture, televisions and an additional sink outside the bathroom. The hotel surrounds an outdoor swimming pool, giving it shade throughout much of the morning. Compared to the rooms, the lobby casino feels a bit worn out, but will do just fine for anyone eager to play slots. The hotel has a 24-hour Denny’s, but the best food in Beatty is down the street at the Happy Burro, especially the chili dogs.

Beatty itself is a small town whose charm carries over from a previous era. Stick around and zoom through the desert on an ATV or wander the wetlands of Torrance Ranch. The ruins of Rhyolite, an abandoned mining town that went bust in the early 1800s, is just four miles west. It’s a fascinating detour on the way into Death Valley on Daylight Pass Road, although most of the remaining structures are now fenced off. It’s near a quirky collection of sculptures known as the Goldman Open Air Art Museum. Venture off the beaten path through Titus Canyon, where vehicles pass through a tight-squeeze of colorful rock formations.

Stagecoach Hotel & Casino

7.4(41 reviews)

Hero Image – Visit California/ Carol Highsmith