The question of where to stay in Death Valley is quite easy to answer in one way, and really difficult in another. The area is basically huge and the cities further apart from each other. On the other hand, the roads are great and they’re all connected.
Also, the cities pretty much look like each other, so you won’t miss much if you choose one over the other. The real difference lies in the proximity to the park. Obviously, your best choice would be to stay in Death Valley National Park itself, and enjoy its luxurious hotel, but that choice comes with a price.
The further you go the prices become lower and lower, but the road becomes longer and longer. You’ll probably need two or three days to see all the important things in the park. Going there only once — even if you stay the whole day — won’t be enough.
The choice is the following, then: either you stay inside or close to the park, but pay considerably more money, or you stay further away from the park, pay less money for accommodation, but travel every day up to three hours in one direction. That’s why we said the answer was both easy and hard.
Where to Stay in Death Valley
Everybody gets a slight chill when they hear the name “Death Valley”, even I do, while I’m writing this guide. Honestly, can you think of a more intriguing and better name for a National Park than Death Valley?
Probably not, and that’s why it has played such a huge part in the collective imagination of every American for the last 150 years. Around 50 movies have been shot in the valley, from the early 1920s, till today, and one of them is no other than the first part of the Star Wars series — Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope.
How did it get its sinister name? It surely wasn’t hopeful. In the winter of 1849-50, a group of early pioneers got lost while crossing the territory of today’s park.
Luckily, only one of them died, but the stress, the horror, and the forlornness of the area inspired them to name the place with such a creepy name. Ever since that day, the park with its sandy dunes, spiky rocks, and general atmosphere of quietness has captured the minds and the senses of every visitor.
Let’s include some numbers into the story. Death Valley National Park covers around 3.4. million acres of territory, making it the biggest National Park outside Alaska, and the fifth largest in all of the USA.
On July 10th, 1913, an incredible high temperature of 134°F (57°C) was recorded in the park, which is — to this day — the highest noted temperature on Earth. Finally, the Badwater Basin, located 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest place in America.
In short, Death Valley National Park is characterized as the driest, hottest and lowest place in all of America. The area around the park is surrounded by a number of cities.
Most of them are almost uninhabited, and offer nothing more than gas and food. But, there are some bigger places too, where you can find great hotels, interesting restaurants, and even some remarkable things too, like casinos, museums, and historic places.
This guide will point them out to you, so you can plan your perfect trip to the area surrounding one of the most mysterious and interesting places on the continent — Death Valley National Park.
The 5 Best Parts of Death Valley
The area around Death Valley National Park is genuinely huge, so there’s no point coming here without a car. Yet, there are considerable differences between parts of the region. Primarily — and that was our criterion of choice — some of them are near the park, and others are further away.
Your choice should probably depend on the proximity to the park. You can either stay inside Death Valley itself, close to the park, or up to three hours away.
The choice is yours, including staying in:
- Death Valley National Park: Stay inside the park, close to its many attractions, and some of America’s most interesting hotels.
- Pahrump: The closest city to the park, full of vineyards and casinos, it’s a great place if you want to stay near to the park, yet enjoy the benefits of civilization.
- Ridgecrest: Second closest city to the park, and probably the most versatile, offering a nice balance of natural beauty, museums, hotels and restaurants.
- Lone Pine: Is a typical Western American town, surrounded by natural beauties, and the cheapest place on our list — great if you’re on a budget.
- Barstow: The best place if you’re on a family trip, with a nice hotel and a lot of museums where you can take your kids.
Death Valley’s Best Areas and Hotels
There are considerable differences between the distribution of hotels in the area. The short answer would be that the further you go from Death Valley National Parks, there are fewer and fewer luxury hotels, and more and more budget options.
Basically, the proximity to the valley is the index which determines the price and the luxuriousness of the hotels. The best and the most expensive hotels are to be found in Death Valley.
They’re historic, beautiful, and cost a lot of money, but they’re worth every dollar because of the uniqueness of the experience they offer. The cities in close proximity to the park — Pahrump and Ridgecrest — offer a lot of variety.
But, the variety mainly consists of different types of three-star hotel, some of them leaning to a more budget option, and others to the luxurious type.
As you go further away from the park, to places like Lone Pine and Barstow, the accommodation option becomes cheaper by the mile. Lone Pine, for example, has no luxury hotel whatsoever, but an enormous number of budget hotels.
The choice, finally, is completely yours. Either something close to the park and more expensive, or something further away from the park, and quite cheaper.
1. Death Valley National Park
The sense of awe and mystery won’t leave you till you make your final step outside of Death Valley National Park. As long as you are in there, between the spiky mountains, sandy dunes, and scorching temperatures, you’ll be under the influence of its magic.
The name itself — Death Valley — inspires both a sense of mystery and a feeling of the sublime, and the place is definitely more than just a wasteland in the form of a desert.
While you’re in the park, your main sense should be your eye, and your most important instrument should be your legs. Simply put, you have to do a lot of walking and looking if you want to feel the magic of Death Valley.
The first thing you should definitely do is reach the viewpoints, so you can see the area in its proper perspective — from the top. Dante’s view in the center of the park is a high spot that’s towering above the Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the whole of the USA.
That should give you a sense of perspective. Zabriskie point — the inspiration behind Antonioni’s famous movie — is another great viewpoint, especially when night falls, and the stars are visible.
Next in line are the canyons, which are basically another viewpoint in a different way. The Golden Canyon provides the easiest hike; Mosaic canyon is just a bit harder; and Grotto Canyon is the hardest of the three. Visit all three of them, if you’re up for the challenge.
The sense of mystery that surrounds Death Valley is mainly due to some really creepy stuff that happens on its territory. The lumpy salt flats named Devil’s Golf Course are really weird looking and can be quite dangerous if you’re not careful.
But that’s nothing compared to the sailing stones at Racetrack Playa — the famous stones slowly glide through the empty basin. Finding food and accommodation inside the National Park is not that easy, but it’s not impossible.
There are a few luxurious hotels which are really great, but also really expensive; some mid-range options, and a couple of budget accommodations, including the camping spaces.
The restaurants, obviously, are really close to the hotels and the hostels on the list. Just remember, the accommodations on our list are the only accommodations in the park itself. There are no others.
Things to Do
- If you have a car go to Artists drive, one of the most beautiful scenic drives in all America. The road is around 9 miles, and offers a panorama of the vast desert beauty of Death Valley National Park. Don’t miss the Artist’s Palette, which is a unique viewpoint on the drive itself.
- Visit some of the most famous viewpoints in the park. Dante’s view is the first you have to visit, the one that’s overlooking the Badwater Basin. The second in line is “Antonioni’s” Zabriskie point which completely illustrates his anti-humanistic aesthetics. The third is Telescope Peak, which is the highest point in the whole park.
- If your eyes are begging to take a rest from the sandy dunes and rocky hills of Death Valley, visit the Darwin Falls which may come as a real refreshment. The waterfalls are located in Panamint Springs, on the western side of the park.
- Visit Scotty’s Castle also known as Death Valley Ranch, which was neither Scott’s nor is a castle, but a beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival vila, located on the northern side of the park. It’s probably the only piece of architecture which deserves your attention in the park itself.
Where to Eat
- Last Kind Words Saloon & Steakhouse located on the premises of the historic The Ranch at Death Valley, is decorated like a very luxurious Western saloon. But the place is not only about history and decoration: it serves a great steak, and tasty ribs, in combination with an extensive wine list, and craft beers.
- Badwater Saloon and Toll Road Restaurant offer the best combo available for eating and drinking after a day full of activities in Death Valley. Located in the Stovepipe Wells, they offer the authentic Western dining and drinking experience.
- The Inn at Death Valley Dining is the restaurant at the historic Inn at the Death Valley, which offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The cousine is regional, enhanced with the fruits from the restaurant’s garden, and the terrace where you can eat your meal is simply a blast.
Death Valley National Park Budget Hotels
- Furnace Creek, located near The Inn at Death Valley, The Ranch at Death Valley, and the Death Valley Visitor center, is the only camping place in the park that takes reservations. It’s usually full during the winter and the spring season, when the park is mostly visited.
- Panamint Springs Motel & Tents is located on the western outskirts of the national park, near Darwin and around 300m from Panamint Springs. It hasn’t much to offer, except the beautiful patio, the perfect view, and the convenient location.
Death Valley National Park Mid-Range Hotels
- Stovepipe Wells Village located on the north part of the park, is a beautiful three-star hotel .The general design of the hotel is Western (like a saloon), and the hotel offers spacious rooms and a heated, outside swimming pool.
- Amargosa Opera House & Hotel in Death Junction Valley, just outside the park, is a decent two-star hotel. Each room in the hotel is furnished in a unique way, mainly in terms of decoration, and all of the rooms are air-conditioned.
Death Valley National Park Luxury Hotels
- The Inn at Death Valley is a perfect five star hotel, which is probably the best accommodation on this whole guide. Located inside the park itself, luxurious, with an outside pool, sauna and fitness center, the hotel has both a bar and a restaurant on its premises.
- The Ranch At Death Valley is the second best option on the grounds of the national park, it offers a swimming pool, a tennis court, a children’s playground, a garden, a terrace and a bar. The restaurant on the premises serves American cuisine, with great vegan and vegetarian options.
If you’ve watched the cult 1996 comedy Mars Attacks!, you surely remember the scene when the Martians are landing, and announce that they’ve come in pace. That place, interesting enough, is no other than Pahrum, a small city of around 40 000 people, an hour and a half away from Death Valley National Park.
Basically, it’s the perfect stopping point if you want to stay longer at the park, but you still want to enjoy the benefits of civilization, like supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, casinos, and accommodation.
The first and obvious thing you should do if you’re staying in Pahrump is to visit Death Valley National Park, which is really close by. You can go back and forth at least two times — the perfect timing to thoroughly experience its beauty — because the drive is not that long.
But, aside from the park, Pahrump has interesting things to offer too, and it’s a really great place to spend your time. Pahrump is a perfect place for the lovers of wine and fine dining in authentic western vineyards.
Two places are especially worth visiting: Pahrump Valley Winery in the wild and rough countryside of the city, offers a lot of free tours and events, aside from the regular wine and dine experience.
The second place is Sanders Family Winery which is quite a romantic place, with tasting venues decorated with the artworks by local artists, and a great amphitheater on the premises. Don’t forget that Pahrump is really close to Las Vegas — and what does that mean?
Casinos and gambling, obviously. Pahrump has a few decent ones, like The Pahrump Nugget Casino, Lakeside Casino, and Gold town Casino — the three of them part of the collective Gold Casino Group. Here you can gamble, drink, dine, or whatever floats your boat, and helps you to relax.
Pahrump is quite a decent place in terms of restaurants and accommodation. The city abounds in beautiful restaurants, mostly of the American-diner-steak type, and some nice wineries, which are the main attractions of the place.
There are a lot of hotels too, generally of the three-star type — some of them leaning towards a budget price, and some of them towards the luxury type. All in all, you won’t be hungry or without a roof on your head while you’re staying in Pahrump.
Things to Do
- Visit the nice casinos of the so-called Golden Group: The Pahrump Nugget Casino, Lakeside Casino, and Gold town Casino. They are a great way to spend your time while you rest from your Death Valley experience, without having to go to Las Vegas. They’re great for gambling, drinking and dining, and much, much more.
- Enjoy the beautiful countryside while sipping high quality wine in some of Pahrump’s best wineries. Pahrump Valley Winery and Sanders Family Winery are the obvious choice. Aside from nature and the tasty wine, they offer a variety of different activities and experiences, such as local arts and tours through their property.
- If you’re a big fan of golf, and just can’t afford to slack at your game, visit Mountain Falls Golf Club and play a couple of holes. The food in the place is also great, so have a two for one, and grab a tasty meal after a game of golf.
- Go to Death Valley National Park, as it’s really close — about an hour, hour and a half drive from Pahrump. Honestly speaking, Pahrump is famous only because it’s close to one of the most unusual national parks in America, so you just can’t afford not to visit it.
Where to Eat
- Symphony’s Restaurant is an upscale restaurant on the outskirts of Pahrump, which has different menus for breakfast, lunch and dinners. It’s listed as an American restaurant and a wine bar, but also has vegetarian and vegan options for those who prefer meals without meals on their tables.
- Pahrump Valley Winery is an elite institution just next to Symphony’s Restaurant. It calls itself “Nevada’s vinery in the desert” and it offers continental cuisine, and wine pairing. The atmosphere is really unforgettable: you eat your dinner and sip wine in the middle of the vineyard.
- Mom’s Diner comes as a refreshment after the upscale atmosphere of the first two restaurants. It offers homemade American dishes, in a cozy, homely atmosphere. It also has vegan and vegetarian options, and the desertas are the things that make this place famous.
Pahrump Budget Hotels
- Preferred RV Resort is offering parkings spots for RVs with full hookup. It’s listed as having two stars, and offers really great stuff for its visitors, like plasma TV’s, indoor and outdoor pools, a shared lounge room with different games — including a pool — and etc.
- Pahrump RV Park & Lodging offers comfortable and nicely furnished accommodations, supplied with plasma TVs, a furnished kitchen, refrigerator, and a private bathroom. It also has some nice shared spaces, like a lounge, picnic area, and a barbeque facility.
Pahrump Mid-Range Hotels
- Saddle West Casino Hotel is a great three star hotel that comes at a cheap price. It has an outdoor pool, a casino, and a restaurant on the premises of the hotel. The rooms are nicely furnished, offering a beautiful view, and equipped with flat TVs and work desks.
- K7 Bed and Breakfast is a sweet and cozy place that offers a rural atmosphere to its visitors. The hotel serves breakfast every morning, and has a beautiful, relaxing bar on the premises.
Pahrump Luxury Hotels
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Pahrump, an IHG Hotel is the only near-luxurious accommodation that you’ll find in Pahrump. It’s listed as a three-star hotel, but it’s price is significantly higher than the other hotels in the area. It has an outdoor swimming pool, beautifully furnished rooms, and the hotel is pet friendly.
- Best Western Pahrump Oasis is another quasi luxurious three-star hotel in Pahrump, which has a swimming pool and a bar on the premises. The hotel is also pet friendly, and it offers great breakfast in the morning, and the visitors can use the business center in the building.
Two and a half hour drive from Death Valley, Ridgecrest is another small town near the famous National Park. Located to the west of the park — on the opposite side of Pahrump — it’s a charming 20-something thousand city that has a lot to offer, not only as a stopping point for Death Valley, but in itself.
The first and obvious thing to do while staying in Ridgecrest is to visit Death Valley National Park. It’s a little further down the road, but with a car and a lot of enthusiasm, it shouldn’t be a problem.
The whole area is gigantic anyway, and it doesn’t go well with small distances and civilization. If you want to visit this part of America, this is a sacrifice you have to make. While staying in Ridgecrest you should definitely see some interesting things.
The first one on the list is the interesting Maturango Museum. It started working in 1962, and it’s all about the cultural and natural history of the area. There is Native American stuff, exhibits of plants, fossils and animals, and some other contemporary art artifacts.
It’s really a place worth seeing. Next in line is an interesting outdoor activity — the Big and Little Petroglyph: two unusual landforms located in the nearby Mojave Desert.
They are one of the main places where you can see the so-called Native American petroglyphs, or rock art, whose meaning is still up for interpretation. There are tours available which offer guidance and necessary information.
They’re usually booked at the Maturango Museum. Finally, there’s the China Lake Museum (or Naval Museum of Armament & Technology) which narrates and interprets the history of the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, located just outside the city.
It’s a great place for fans of the history of the American army and weaponry. Ridgecrest is simply full of hotels and restaurants. The accommodation options — having in mind the fact that the city is quite tiny — are unbelievable.
There are a lot of budget, mid-range and luxurious hotels — and all of them are quite cheap, even the luxurious ones. Concerning food, there are all kinds of restaurants in the city, which offer different cousins and national and international dishes: American, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Thai and mixed options.
Things to Do
- Generally speaking, this area is not famous for books, libraries and bookstores, but there’s one exception to the rule, and that’s Red Rock Books bookstore in Ridgecrest. It’s located in a historic building and it’s quite huge — over 7,000 square feet. The place also sells tickets to local events and festivals.
- Go to China Lake Museum if you want to discover the exciting history of the nearby Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake which is usually closed to regular tourists. Here you’ll learn many new and interesting things about America’s army, and especially the naval forces and their tactics and instruments throughout history.
- Don’t you dare miss Ridgecrest’s major attraction, the Maturango Museum. It presents exhibits related to the flora and fauna of the area, and it’s quite stacked with Native American artifacts of all kinds. At the museum you can also book a tour to the Big and Little Petroglyph and try to be the first one who completely understands them.
- Never forget that you’re near Death Valley National Park — only two and a half hours by car. Like Pahrump, the main attraction of Ridgecrest is that’s relatively closed to the National Park and its mysterious, austere, desert beauty.
Where to Eat
- Mon Reve is a bistrot-styled French restaurant with a cozy atmosphere and great food, wine and beer. It’s most famous for its onion soup (a famous French cuisine specialty) and the deserts which are the talk of the town.
- Casey’s Steaks & Barbeque is a classical American barbeque and steak restaurant. It’s a great place for meat-deprived and tired hikers to have a lunch or a diner (the place definitely doesn’t have any breakfast foods). It also works with takeaway, and has a great list of alcoholic drinks.
- Xin Bowl Asian Bistro is a Chinese and Japanese restaurant that offers good, rich portions of tasty food. The restaurant’s mission is to base their food on natural ingredients, and to provide a relaxing, cozy atmosphere for their guests. The reviews think that they’re accomplishing their mission.
Ridgecrest Budget Hotels
- Baymont by Wyndham Ridgecrest located in the center of Ridgecrest, offers air-conditioned rooms, with free Wi-Fi, and cable tv with focus on sport channels. The hotel offers continental breakfast every morning including muffins and donuts.
- A Nights Inn is another, slightly cheaper two-star hotel located on the northern side from the city center of Ridgecrest. It has nicely furnished rooms with air conditioning and flat screen TVs. The parking is also free, and the place is usually recommended for couples.
Ridgecrest Mid-Range Hotels
- Clarion Inn Ridgecrest is a great two-star hotel with a price and quality as a decent three-star hotel. The hotel has a swimming pool, a bar, and a bistrot, it serves great breakfast every morning, has rooms with microwaves and refrigerator, and — on top of everything — is completely pet-friendly.
- Heritage Inn & Suites Ridgecrest – China Lake is a beautiful and not very expensive three-star hotel. It offers free parking, free Wi-Fi, a laundry facility, and rooms with almost all amenities. It also has a pool and a business center on the premises, and it’s completely pet-friendly.
Ridgecrest Luxury Hotels
- SpringHill Suites Ridgecrest is the most expensive hotel in town, and it’s quite worth the price. It has an outdoor swimming pool,a bar, and a barbeque facility on the premises, it offers very tasty breakfast every morning, and has nicely furnished rooms with a microwave, refrigerator and coffee machine.
- Hampton Inn & Suites Ridgecrest is another three-star hotel, which, because of the strong competition in the area — Las Vegas — is listed with that number of stars. Regardless of that, it has an outdoor swimming pool, a gym, a business center, and a barbeque facility on the hotel’s ground, and rooms with flat 32 inch screen TVs.
4. Lone Pine
Lone Pine is a small Hollywood-styled Western town, located to the north-west of Death Valley National Park. Surrounded by beautiful mountains, such as the Alabama Hills, Mount Whitney and the Eastern Peaks of the Sierra Nevada, and close to the beautiful Owens Lake, it’s a great place for nature enthusiasts.
There are not many places like Lone Pine in the world, encircled by such an amount of natural sublimities. Lone Pine is a little further away from Death Valley National Park — you’ll have to drive around three hours to reach its dunes and peaks.
But, concerning the fact that there aren’t many towns in the area which can offer quality accommodation and food, Lone Pine is worth the gasoline spent on. Since everything in this area is forlorn and devoid of civilization, you’ll have to compromise a lot.
The scenery is just wonderful, and a lot of the hotels in Lone Pine offer unforgettable rooms with a view. There are many hiking tours available from the city, first of all, to the famous Alabama Hills.
They offer an unforgettable hiking and climbing experience — and scenic driving too! — and the authentic feel of the atmosphere present in countless Western movies. While we are speaking about Western movies, Lone Pine offers quite a treat.
Since more than 400 movies have been shot in the city, from the 1920s till today, Lone Pine decided to open a movie and commemorate that side of its identity.
So, in 2006 the Museum of Western Film History started working, showing its beautiful collection of Western-themed memorabilia, old cameras and other movie props, to countless visitors.
Finally, there’s Owens Lake south of the city, which offers a great opportunity for relaxation, and — interesting enough — birding. But, don’t expect to do some fishing there, because the lake is mostly dry.
But, if you want to give your new fishing equipment a try, go to the Eastern Sierra of California, where the California golden trout wait for you. Concerning the accommodation options, Lone Pine is one of the cheapest places in the area.
It’s quite a small place, with a large number of options of mid-range and budget hotels, but almost no luxury accommodations. It’s a great place if you’re on a budget, and you want to spend most of your time traveling between parks, mountains and lakes.
Things to Do
- Go hiking or climbing on the incredibly scenic Alabama Hills. They’re quite near Lone Pine, and a gateway to the bigger Mount Whitney. The nature is quite beautiful and monumental, and it has served as a background to many films and commercials, from the 1920s, till today.
- You just have to go to Lone Pine’s Museum of Western Film History and check its great collection. It collects and stores different kinds of memorabilia connected to the city’s and area’s rich and diverse movie tradition. The history it narrates stretches from the silent movies, to their digital counterparts, with a special accent on the scenic landscapes in the area: Alabama Hills, Owens Valley, the Sierra Nevada and Death Valley.
- Visit Death Valley National Park. The drive to the park is longer than usual, but the roads are great and the scenery is memorable. In other words, the road is part of the adventure itself. Plus, the cheapness of Lone Pine is worth its price in gasoline.
- Go birding at Owens Lake or fishing the Eastern Sierra of California. There are many leaks, streams and ponds there, where you can try your luck at the California golden trout, but also other types of fish, such as catfish, rainbow trout, bas, or brown trout.
Where to Eat
- Alabama Hills Cafe and Bakery is a Travelers choice restaurant, is both a place where you can eat a burger and true some nice pastries. Great for both breakfast, lunch and dinner, it also has a variety of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
- Seasons Restaurant is a rustic but refined place, maybe the most luxurious eatery you’ll find in Lone Pine. It offers a combination of American and International cuisine, with past, seafood and stakes available on the menu. It’s also great for vegans and vegetarians, and also has gluten free options.
- Margie’s Merry Go-Round is another combined restaurant, offering a mix of American and Chinese cuisines. The restaurant boasts that it uses the best and the freshest ingredients for preparing food, and that their place is perfect for family gatherings, birthdays and different kinds of dining in company.
Lone Pine Budget Hotels
- Whitney Portal Hotel And Hostel is a two-star hotel which is a great option if you’re on a budget, and you want to spend your time cheaply but in decent conditions. All rooms are air conditioned and have TVs. The hostel has a nice location, close to various places where you can fish or hunt, if you like.
- Mount Whitney Motel is a one-star budget option motel, in the true sense of the word. It doesn’t offer much, except a good price, free parking, a cable TV, microwave and a refrigerator in every room, and a 24 hour reception.
Lone Pine Mid-Range Hotels
- Trails Motel is a decent two-star motel with free Wi-Fi on the premises, a seasonal outdoor pool, and nicely furnished rooms. The rooms are furnished with flat screen TVs, coffee and tea making facilities, and there’s a Tesla charging station quite close to the motel.
- Dow Villa Motel offers great rooms equipped with a microwave, refrigerator, and a coffee machine. Some of the rooms in this three star hotel offer a mountain view. There’s no breakfast in the morning, but the outdoor pool with a hot tub is really great.
Lone Pine Luxury Hotels
- Quality Inn Lone Pine near Mount Whitney offers, first of all, a beautiful view of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. It’s a great three-star hotel with an outdoor heated pool, and rooms equipped with microwaves, refrigerators, and DirectTV. There’s also an available breakfast every morning consisting of waffles, fruit, cereal, juice and coffee. It’s not quite a luxury hotel, but in this context, it may count as one.
Just to the south of Death Valley National Park, lies the interesting city of Barstow. It’s neither the biggest nor the smallest city that we’ve presented in this guide (population 25 000), and for all these years it has been a stopping point for people who want to visit Death Valley, Las Vegas or Los Angeles.
The city offers great hotels at a low price and decent restaurants, which make it a perfect place to spend your family vacation. Like all the cities on this list, Barstow is primarily important because of its proximity to Death Valley.
The drive to the park is about 3 hours, which shouldn’t be a problem, since the city is located at the crossroads of several important highways: Interstate 15, California State Route 58 and the historic Route 66 are some of them.
In other words, your connection to almost everything in the area will be absolutely great. Interestingly enough, there’re a lot of museums in Barstow — something you wouldn’t expect from a tiny Western town.
- Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum is the first and the most important one, and it tells the story of the legendary 2,248-mile road. Aside from that, here you’ll find exhibits, photographs, and artifacts connected to the Mojave desert and the early railways.
- Western America Railroad Museum is the next in line and it’s located in an old railway depot. Here you’ll see everything connected to railways: old uniforms, timetables, and other artifacts. There’s also a shop in the museum, where you can buy — suitable enough — railway souvenirs.
- Finally, there’s the Mojave River Valley Museum which is all about the Mojave River Valley from the time of the early pioneers (18th century) till today. There are more than 20 000 photographs, and exhibits and artifacts connected with the pioneers, miners, and the railroads which shaped this part of America.
The hotel options in Barstow are simply great. All of the hotels come at a decent — even cheap price — and there’s almost no facility on our list which doesn’t have a pool.
So, they’re both cheap and quite good: great for spending your trip with your family, and enjoying the time between the visits of the different places in the area.
Things to Do
- Have a tour through the museums of Barstow, and learn about the history of the area. Start with the Route 66 “Mother Road” Museum which tells the story of the famous road; continue to Western America Railroad Museum, and learn more about railroads and trains; and finally, finish your tour with a general overview of the area in Mojave River Valley Museum.
- If you want to do some cheap shopping, Barstow is a great place for that, since it has a wide variety of outlets. Outlets At Barstow has everything and anything, from basic things to designer clothes — and it also has a food court.
- If you’re interested in space and space programs, go to the NASA Goldstone DSN Visitor’s Center located in Barstow Harvey House. Their exhibits are all about the Deep Space program, and here you’ll find everything about it. The place is especially suitable for children and younger people.
- Chill by the pool in one of Barstow’s nice hotels. They’re all practically very cheap — even the relatively luxurious ones — and almost all of them have an outdoor pool, even the budget hotels. So grab a drink, and enjoy the everlasting Californian sun by the pool.
Where to Eat
- Lola’s Kitchen is a traditional Mexican restaurant, with a vibrant and casual atmosphere. It’s most famous for enchiladas, tacos & carnitas, and a lot of vegan and vegetarian options. The takeaway option is also available.
- DiNapoli’s Firehouse Italian Eatery is an extravagantly decorated Italian restaurant, which looks like a firehouse. It serves heavily portioned dishes, which will fill the stomachs — and the hearts — of even the sturdiest customers. The mission of the restaurant is for everybody to feel like a family.
- Black Bear Diner Barstow is a family friendly restaurant that offers American comfort food, in a cozy woody setting. Their menu is quite versatile, offering vegan, vegetarian and gluten free dishes.
Barstow Budget Hotels
- Budget Inn is conveniently named as the perfect options for visitors who plan to spend their trip on a budget. All the rooms have TVs, a small fridge and private bathroom. And there’s a big surprise: there’s a small outdoor pool on the premises!
- Travelodge by Wyndham Barstow is another two-star budget hotel that really offers much at a scandalously low price. All rooms have private bathrooms, TVs, working desks, and ironing facilities. Also, there’s quite nice swimming on the premises, which — by the way — are completely pet friendly.
Barstow Mid-Range Hotels
- Best Western Desert Villa Inn is a great three-star hotel located in the center of this small charming city. It has an outdoor pool to dip in, and it’s completely pet friendly, so feel free to bring your furry best friend. The complimentary breakfast offer in the hotel is quite nice, as in all Best Western hotels.
- Rodeway Inn On Historic Route 66 located on the historic Route 66, it’s a great place for relaxing after a trip to the Death Valley. It has a pool on the premises, and its rooms are freshly renovated, with desks, hair dryers and cable TVs. The hotel offers a complimentary breakfast every morning.
Barstow Luxury Hotels
- Home2 Suites By Hilton Barstow, Ca located near Barstow (in the southern area of the city) is a true luxury hotel with private parking, swimming pool, fitness center and a restaurant on the premises. Some of the rooms are equipped with a kitchen, microwave and a fridge, but all of them are air conditioned and feature plasma TVs.
- Hampton Inn and Suites Barstow is another three-star luxurious hotel in the southern area of Bartow, with a gym and an outdoor pool on its premises. All the rooms in the hotel have a large window, and a comfortable working space, but also feature a microwave, a refrigerator and HD TVs.
So, Where Should You Stay in Death Valley?
Now that the guide is almost over, let’s do a quick recap of everything that was said in our answer to the question “Where to stay in Death Valley”. Hopefully, our story was helpful to you, and at the end, we want to give a short summary of our “findings”.
- Death Valley National Park is the central location for every traveler in this area. The park itself is the main attraction, offering many marvels to behold on its 3.4. million acres of space. Also, it offers some of the most memorable — and most expensive — hotels and restaurants in the area, which, by the way, are completely worth every dollar you have.
- Pahrump is the closest city to the park, being just an hour, hour and a half drive from its entrance. It’s a decent city, offering rich wineries, beautiful casinos and decent accommodation of every type. It’s a great place if you want to visit the park more than once.
- Ridgecrest is the second closest city, which is probably the most versatile place in our guide. It has almost everything: it’s close to the park, it has an interesting museum, and it’s surrounded by natural beauty. The hotels and the restaurants are also fairly decent.
- Lone Pine is the typical Western town, closely connected to the American history of Western Filmography, a common place for shooting adverts — because of its natural beauty — and definitely the cheapest place in our guide. It’s the best option if you’re on a budget.
- Barstow, the last city in our guide, and the furthest from Death Valley National Park. It’s a perfect place to stay if you’ve brought your family on the trip. It offers great hotels — all of them featuring swimming pools — and a great list of educational museums to bring your kids to.
Regardless of which city you you choose in which to stay, a trip to Death Valley is one you’ll remember for a lifetime. There’s gorgeous scenery to take in, friendly locals, and endless opportunity for adventure. Happy travels!