Surprising Death Valley

Rains bring amazing changes with snow and forming a lake; renovation brings museum-worthy Western art

Death Valley snows above Furnace Creek
Winter snows above Furnace Creek in Death Valley

Death Valley National Park has a special place in my heart. It was the first road trip I did with my future husband. It always amazes me how I keep seeing something new each time I visit.

The Artist’s Palette, a special short drive through some of the most spectacular colors of the park, an area I saw for the first time a few years ago, is now the first thing I suggest people see when they go.

Then this year, we not only got to see snow on the mountains (up to 11K feet), we got to see Lake Manly appear from it’s normal dry bed as rains sent small rivers that blocked many of the roads in the area and washed out others, like the Palette. Badwater Basin, normally cracked and dry, is now muddy and mushy.

While the famous Spring Bloom hasn’t show up, there are tons of wild flowers around the park to see. Head to the park’s Visitor’s Center at Furnace Creek to learn about wildflowers, the park’s climate zones, great hikes and drives.

We’ve been to the renovated hotels in Death Valley before, enjoying the beautiful new cottages, shops, restaurants, and landscape designs with palm trees and water features. I’ve written before about visits to the Mission Revival Hotels of Henry Trost. The Oasis at Death Valley consists of two hotels, The Ranch and The Inn, properties in the similar Mission California style dating back to the 1920’s. This was the first time I noticed the amazing art collection around the resort. Stunning pieces are in some of the most unassuming locations, for example, over a doorway in a cafeteria. Don’t miss the details in the classic Western bar.

Look for “Staging in California,” a smaller version of a 60” by 108” painting done by Mt. Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum in 1889, behind the bar at The Inn. We learned from the bartender that the larger one is at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, also part of the collection of owner Philip Anschutz, famed entrepreneur and historian of the West whose holdings include the Xanterra Travel Collection®, the parent company of the Oasis at Death Valley. Interestingly, Borglum’s granddaughter let the bartender know who she was during her visit as he described the story of her grandfather’s painting.

I was stunned while looking over the restaurant menu on a bureau at The Inn to see Frederic Remington’s “The Quest (The Apache Trail) painting, inches from me. The hunt was on, as I discovered a Peter Hurd in a hallway off the lobby. Walking through the cafeteria of The Ranch, there was another Frederic Remington and a piece by Herman Herzog, “New Sutter’s Field, California.” Around the properties, you may see Remington sculptures, such as “The Mountain Man,” as well as paintings by Albert Bierstadt, Charles Christian Nahl, and William Tylee Ranney.

The treasures aren’t all just artwork, but also Navajo rugs, Western apparel, mining tools, and much more.

When you visit, keep your eyes peeled. Death Valley is full of wonderful surprises.

"The Quest" (The Apache Trail) painting by Frederic Remington
Frederic Remington’s “The Quest” (The Apache Trail)

Visiting the famous Wall Drug in South Dakota is another place to see an amazing collection of Western art around the walls of the cafeteria and dining rooms. St. Petersburg, Florida, is home to the outstanding James (read Raymond James family) Museum of Western and Wildlife art.

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1 Response

  1. February 18, 2024

    […] Death Valley to hike, relax, photograph and see amazing sites, including incredible Western art. See shots of the winter snow and new lake that formed in the valley along with other surprises I noticed this year: the amazing, […]

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