Sports And Recreation At Furnace Creek (Backgrounder)
For some travelers, the images of isolation and calmness that Death Valley evokes make for an ideal getaway. However, in addition to the peacefulness, the Furnace Creek Inn & Ranch Resort offers a wide variety of activities to satisfy the sportsman within.
Both the Inn and the Ranch offer outdoor swimming pools that are naturally fed by warm springs that keep the pools’ temperature at a comfortable 82 degrees (27.7C). In addition to the pool, Inn guests can enjoy a game of tennis on the four-lighted tennis courts, have a massage, or take in an early morning walk, jog or hike.
At the Ranch, the activities are abundant. The 18 hole Furnace Creek Golf Course, the world’s lowest course at 214 feet below sea level, is an oasis championship course. Originally opened in 1931, the course underwent a major renovation in 1997 by world renowned golf course architect Perry Dye. Due to the elevation of the course, a slightly greater gravity and barometric pressure force are present. Frequent golfers have noticed a distinct difference in how the ball responds in relation to other courses at or above sea level. Also at the Ranch, guests can organize a pick up game of basketball, pitch horseshoes or enjoy horseback riding, group hayrides, carriage rides and guided trail rides. These activities are also available to Inn guests.
The breathtaking scenery itself justifies recreation and guests are encouraged to take advantage of the several hiking and walking trips. Many points of interest are accessible for the casual or seasoned walker. Although formal trails do not exist, paths carved out by past travelers are easy to follow. Hikes ranging from one to three miles in distance are possible to the Harmony Borax Works, the Natural Bridge or through Golden Canyon or Mosaic Canyon. The Sand Dunes, east of Stovepipe Wells, are ideal for either a casual stroll or an all day excursion.
For the more seasoned hiker, a climb to Telescope Peak, the highest spot in Death Valley, is a challenge. Steep inclines make for a strenuous, all day hike to the top.
For more information on hiking, back country maps and publications on trails and trips, contact the National Park Service at (760) 786 2331 or visit their website at www.nps.gov/deva.