Best time to go: Late March to early April or late October.
What to Bring:
Velcro Bandanas to protect yourself from the sun, sand, and wind.
Sand resistant Basket Totes for your snacks and supplies.
Last fall, our family were hosted by the Italian journalist Fabrizio Rondolino at his secluded Modernist Desert Retreat in the Nevada High Desert near Scotty’s Junction. We drove up from Los Angeles and discovered and noted some of the best places to stop. Here is the guide:
Shop for your groceries and supplies before you go on the trip. The nearest town before you arrive at the rental house is Beatty. It's a small town with lots of veterans who used to work on the military bases in the geographical area. A few bbq restaurants (not very good) and the dollar store is the only place to get supplies.
There is surprisingly no liquor stores. Beers can be purchased at one of the two gas stations. But if you are desperate, there is a casino in town where the bartender will sell you a bottle of wine or whiskey at a reasonable price.
The Ultimate airbnb in Death Valley - Scotty Junction
This vacation home in the middle of an isolated stretch of high desert, designed by Peter Strzebniok (nottoscale, San Francisco), incorporates the vistas by visually expanding into the surrounding landscape, providing stunning views, while also making the desert part of the interiors – merging the interior with the exterior. Learn more about the house in the NYT article.
What to do in and around Scotty Junction
1) Sarcobatus Flats
Flat for off-roading, speed racing, dusting chasing, photo ops. Make sure you have a 4 wheel drive and bigger tiers to avoid damage to your car.
A window into the life and times of the Roaring '20s and Depression '30s. It was and is an engineer's dream home, a wealthy matron's vacation home and a man-of-mystery's hideout and getaway.
3) Random abandoned places of worship, brothels, and ranches...
“...(Nevada) despite being composed almost wholly of federal land and a vociferously patriotic American populace, it hardly seems part of US...scourge of gamblers and forty-niners, home to untamed mustangs, unreined brothels, and unbridled atomic bombs.”- D Darlington (AREA 51) I must add - it is also a place where dreamers come to realize their Fitzcarraldo like goal. Some are more successful than others. This chapel was abandoned and never finished. I guess God wasn’t being helpful.
4) Amargosa Opera House (Death Valley Junction)
Hotel & Cafe
Once the home and playground of eccentric American actress, dancer, choreographer, and dancer Marta Becket. The storied opera house hosted many of Becket's performances at first to no audience. A profile in National Geographic and Life Magazine led an international interest in Becket and her theatre. Many years later, after her death, the building and theatre have become a hotel acting as a cultural center for those who love art and admire her creative spirit.
The best of Death Valley National Park
5) Mesquite Flat Dunes
These dunes are the best known and easiest to visit in the national park. This is also the only one you can actually sand-ski and do sand-boarding with your kids. Located in central Death Valley near Stovepipe Wells, access is from Hwy. 190 or from the unpaved Sand Dunes Road. Although the highest dune rises only about 100 feet, the dunes actually cover a vast area. This dune field includes three types of dunes: crescent, linear, and star shaped. Polygon-cracked clay of an ancient lakebed forms the floor. Mesquite trees have created large hummocks that provide stable habitats for wildlife. Sand boarding is permitted on these dunes.
6) Titus Canyon
The best scenic drive