Death Valley National Park
If you are an RV’er and are planning on camping inside the park, I can tell you the best is Furnace Creek Campground. The sites are mostly soft sand but are long and plenty wide. The park service has added water and sewer to 18 RV/trailer sites, but the rest of the campground is still primitive. Check on the recreation.gov site for details on the campground. There is also a large tent camping area that is very nice with accessible restrooms, but no showers. There is also a large campsite area across from the Furnace Creek Campground that is largely flat with a gravel base and includes several strategically placed restrooms, but no hook-ups. Just a place to call home. If you are not a camper you do have the choice of the Furnace Creek Inn. It can be very pricey but worth the splurge when celebrating special times. The best bang for your buck is Furnace Creek Ranch which is surrounded with amenities including a grocery store, a few eateries and something for the shoppers.
If you prefer staying at the North end of the park try the Stovepipe Wells Village, a beautiful hotel with lots of amenities. The General Store across the road is well stocked and the prices are not out of line considering you are miles from anywhere, or, nowhere. Even if you stay in Furnace Creek plan your gas needs in Stovepipe Wells, we found gas prices $.35-$.50 a gallon less than Furnace Creek. If you are an RV camper there are 14 full-hookup sites available across
from the General Store. Your price includes use of the outdoor pool, WiFi and eateries inside Stovepipe Wells Village, a sweet deal for sure. In addition, the National Park Service provides nearly 200 first-come-first-serve primitive campsites which are available just behind the General Store. As a last resort you also have overnight options in Beatty, Amargosa and Panamint Springs. This is just some generalities, a quick search will yield you a plethora of detailed information on accommodations including securing reservations.
In the back of the parking lot in is the Borax Museum. It is small but worth the visit. Using my wilderness wheelchair I had much difficulty maneuvering through the narrow isles and tight corners. I would not recommend scooter users or wheelchairs users in wide wheelchairs even trying to enter past the front door. Make sure you visit the museums collection of Death Valley artifacts located behind the museum. Easily accessible for wheelchairs and scooters and you will learn the long history of Death Valley in the early days and the role Borax played in it’s growth. Don’t forget your camera either, the opportunities for creative compositions are many.
Park Rangers have a tough job policing vehicle speeds along the many undeveloped dirt roads in Death Valley and caution drivers to watch their speed and stay off the soft shoulders. The most common cause for careening off the road, or single car rollovers is caused by losing control at high speeds. The driver of this car is the perfect example of why you keep you driving speed to the posted limit or below.
One last note of interest, and I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of photos that you can find in a quick internet search, is Scotty’s Castle. If you are a wheelchair user you have two floors of the castle you can visit providing your wheelchair meets the maximum width requirement of 24 inches. I say 24 inches but I’m really not sure that is the magic number. What I do know is that the stick they use to gauge the width was at least 2 inches plus a tad shorter than the width of my chair, and my electric wilderness wheelchair is at 27 inches. This limited me to the bottom, or main floor of castle, which included Scotty’s room, the kitchen, dinning room and more. I was disappointed I was not able go upstairs, but as I have mention many times before, pick the battles you can win and enjoy them to the fullest. If you find yourself in my same situation, don’t despair, there is a lot to see and photograph outside on the grounds, including the garage where many of the castle autos are on display. If you are the brave and adventuresome type you can take the trail up the Death Valley Scotty’s grave, although I would not go it alone. Most of the trail is very friendly and east to negotiate until you reach this hill that appears to be near vertical. I do exaggerate some here, but it is steep and laden with small rocks making it slippery. I managed to make it up the hill with little problem, but, it took two people, one on either side of my wheelchair to keep me from sliding down the hill in what would easily set a new Olympic record. Personally, I had more fun exploring the castle grounds than I did inside the castle. Inside you are not allowed to bring in tripods, but flash photography is allowed throughout the inside. Those rules don’t apply to the outside grounds, you can spend hours, I know, I did, photographing the architecture of the castle.
The new Visitors Center in Furnace Creek opened spring 2012 and during our latest visit we made it a point to check it out. Park Services have done a wonderful job bringing the history of Death Valley to the visitor, including a 20 minute movie introduction to Death Valley National Park.They even have free WiFi inside the visitors center that you can catchup on your email or social media.
After you have visited Death Valley and you have something to add to my writing, please feel free to contact me and I will gladly add your writings with credit.
Last updated March 07, 2013
If you have additional questions regarding the accessibility of the features of Death Valley please feel free to contact me and I will respond as quickly as I am available.