I was curious to visit Death Valley during the government shut-down. Would all the sites be closed? I knew The Oasis at Death Valley was open and recently completed $100 million in renovations. Both The Inn and The Ranch at Death Valley are celebrating a renaissance in 2019.

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Located a little over four hours from Los Angeles or a two-hour drive from Las Vegas, is an oasis in the middle of the vast desert of Death Valley National Park.

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Driving from Los Angeles, we stopped at the Stovepipe Wells Ranger Station to pay our $30 entrance fee. We noticed the self-pay kiosk was covered in black plastic and taped on was a notice that read “Fee Collection Service temporarily suspended due to the lapse in federal appropriations.” Approaching a ranger, we were told they are not collecting fees, due to the shutdown, and that we were free to enter the park. We inquired about the accommodations, restaurants and services in the park, and were told most were open.

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Driving less than a mile to Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, we admired 14 square miles of views across the widest part of Death Valley. The highest dune is 100 feet tall and about a one mile walk over lower dunes. The vistas near sunset offered rippling patterns from the wind, among sharply edged mountain ranges silhouetted to the east and west.

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Vacationers have two distinct hotel experiences in Furnace Creek. The Inn at Death Valley is the Mission-style historic, serene, and luxury Four Diamond resort in Death Valley, while The Ranch at Death Valley is more family-friendly and adventure-focused.

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Arriving at The Inn one immediately notices lush gardens and tall date palm trees up on the hill. The former Furnace Creek Resort is now called The Inn at Death Valley. Opened in 1927 as a 66-room inn, recently added 22 luxury stand-alone casitas built in the inn’s Oasis Garden. Each casita offers is over 500 square feet and comes with a complimentary golf cart for guests to use to get around the property.

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Visitors walk in to a tastefully decorated living area with a sleeper sofa and wet bar. A separate bedroom offers either a King bed casita or two Queen beds. The casitas are near the warm spring-fed swimming pool, pool cafe and bar, spa and sauna and the only gym that has two live palm trees inside.

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The Inn Dining Room offers sit-down dining during breakfast, lunch, and dinner hours. The menu offers regional flavors that include citrus and dates.

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Not far away, The Ranch at Death Valley has 224 lodge-style rooms and the world’s lowest 18-hole, par 70 golf course. It’s 214 feet below sea level redesigned by golf course architect Perry Dye. Other activities include one and two story rooms looking out to sprawling lawns and a fire pit. There is a country store, Borax museum, spring-fed 80 degree pool, basketball and tennis court and children’s playground. The Ranch offers horseback and carriage rides at the stable.

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During the day, we went on hikes and drives around the park. We walked along paths taken by Native Americans, the ‘49ers of the California Gold Rush, and the legendary Borax 20 Mule Teams.

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One evening, we drove to The Ranch and dined at the 1849 saloon restaurant next to 1849 buffet restaurant for dinner. The next evening, we enjoyed dining at The Inn Dining Room. Afterwards, we walked out on the terrace and looked up into the midnight sky. Death Valley is one of the only sanctioned Dark Skies in the U.S. Both nights we saw the Super moon and the Milky Way with the naked eye.

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Death Valley National Park provides a variety of warm desert oasis memories. To learn more and reserve a room, go to The Oasis at Death Valley.