Weekend Getaway to Furnace Creek, CA (L06)
Now left seat, as you approach this valley the surrounding mountains are intriguing because on the west side they are over ten thousand feet. As you make your way down to the runway you’ll have an incredible crystal clear view of this 150 mile long valley which appears to be all yours. Keep your eye on the strip even though taking in the scenery will be very tempting. Most days you’ll be able to land on either 15 or 33 because the wind will be calm, but do your pre-flight just to make sure. You may not notice your altimeter, but you’ll descend below sea level on final a half mile before the runway. How many of your friends have done this?
Back to the right seat; the original venue was an Inn (Furnace Creek Inn) built in the late 20’s for the Hollywood crowd as an opulent retreat.
They would fly out in DC-3s and private planes to enjoy this incredible atmosphere and oasis in the desert. Many years later the Ranch was established (Furnace Creek Ranch) which includes restaurants, a golf course, a retail store, a saloon, a museum, and much more. Rooms at the Inn up on the hill start at $400/night plus tax if you’re bold enough to try this. The Ranch rooms and cabins start at $129/night plus tax.
The Ranch at Furnace Creek is the perfect vantage point from which to explore Death Valley National Park!
Today at the Furnace Creek Ranch there are visitors from all over the globe taking advantage of this world renowned venue. The facilities provide horseback riding, jeep rentals, tennis courts, several hiking trails, history museum, mines to explore in the area and more.
Pleasant surprises are to be discovered all over the place. How about a slow jog up to the Inn on the hill from the resort and back? The Jeep rentals offer the guests that arrive by air a way to get around as well as explore a little of the gorgeous backcountry. The views of the valley from all these potential perspectives are limitless.
On the north end of the valley lies another piece of history in full regalia, Scotty’s Castle (shown below). This site is not only worth the 45 minute drive for its esthetic value, but it has a rich history for book ends. As a key piece of real estate, the Castle is also within the National Park borders and the park rangers watch over and give guided tours of this historic structure. A little history to whet your appetite: the man who built Scotty’s Castle was Walter Perry Scott (1872-1954). Walter P. Scott was the son of an alcohol distiller and horse breeder in Kentucky. Walter did not get any formal education. He left home and went west where he worked as a mule driver and a water boy. From there he became a horse wrangler. Because of his talent with horses, Buffalo Bill made him the featured rider along with Annie Oakley in Buffalo Bill’s family show. The show travelled and Scotty was with it eleven years. During this time, Scotty made many important friendships with men of power and wealth. In 1900, Walter married and left the show. It gets very interesting after this and you’ll have to visit to get the complete colorful details.
If you have useful load left over for a set of clubs, the valley’s golf course will be very rewarding as it offers the impressive mountain views, pin dropping quietness, and fun layout of the links for you. The Furnace Creek starts at the Inn, irrigates all of its trees and vegetation, passes through the palacios swimming pool, then is diverted to the Resort below for irrigation and supplying its pools, then finally ends up at the golf course for filling water hazards and irrigation. How efficient is that? The course is not long, so the par 4,320 yard fairways are very doable. After finishing the round make sure to take in the snack bar and don’t forget to brag to your friends that you have golfed at the lowest elevation course in the world.
There is so much to do in this valley that you might not want to stay for just two days; you may want to take it in for a week, or at least return in the future knowing what can do and see. For us pilots flying from central Arizona in the Phoenix area, it may require a little over half of your vehicle’s fuel capacity. This means that you’ll have to plan a fuel stop somewhere between your home base and Furnace Creek (L06). This airport had fuel available in the past, but due to economy trends it is no longer available. The airstrip offers a large ramp for tie-downs. Bring your own rope and chocks. A quick call to the Ranch will summon you a ride to the Furnace Creek Ranch where you will be greeted and shown to your quarters. For those of us wishing to rent Jeeps, the rental agency will drop them off at the airport.
APA Get-Away Flight—Furnace Creek, CA (LØ6)
Accommodations (Saturday night Jan 24)
Furnace Creek Resort: Reservations (800) 236-7916 or Front Desk (760) 786-2345.
The Ranch at Furnace Creek: Std room $159/night +, Cabin $129/night +
Several restaurants in the ranch area (family type) no reservations required
(The Wrangler, 49er Café, Cork Screw Saloon, 19th hole)
What to Pack
Winter desert wear. Chilly at night after the sun sets and short sleeve warm in the day. Bring hiking footwear and sunscreen plus a water bottle.
Transportation on Site
Farabee’s Jeep Rentals located at the Inn. Reservations (877) 970-5337 or (760) 786-9872. Farabee’s will leave your vehicle at the airport for your arrival if requested. 4 seaters. $235/day
24 speed bike rentals. Located by the General Store at the Ranch at Furnace Creek. To reserve a bike for your stay, please call (760) 786-3371.
Phoenix to Furnace Creek, CA is ~300nm. You may have to plan a fuel stop or two depending on your aircraft. Please plan your flight according to regulations. Please submit a Liability Waiver prior to the trip. Planned arrival time => Noon Saturday Jan 24 at LØ6
Trip Coordinator (Brad Lawrence 602-460-4286)
Saturday Jan 24
11:00 Local time—Arrival from AZ
Pick up Jeeps and head to Titus Canyon
12:30 Arrive Titus Canyon (sightsee/box lunch)
4:00 Head back to Furnace Creek
6:00 Dinner at Wrangler Steakhouse
8:00 Campfire / Guitar music / Astronomer presentation by Mesa College Prof.
Sunday Jan 25
Local breakfast buffet at the 49er OR pack coffee and a Danish to eat on location
8:00 hit the road for Badwater (25 minutes)
10:00 head for the Inyo mine or Zabrinski’s Point (30 minute drive)
11:30 Head back to airport