Beatty has long been known as the Gateway to Death Valley, and this entrance to the National Park has exciting offerings for all your senses...and your imagination too! Among the sights and senses you can experience on the 45 mile trip into the valley are:
OF SPECIAL INTEREST...
Desert Wildflowers will begin to appear sometime around mid February...If the mid Winter and early Spring brings some rain. Last year's rainfall was barely adequate. So if you are fond of Mother Nature's Srping time Extraveganza, Pray for RAIN! As winter flows into spring park rangers will begin to give regular Wild Flower Updates. When these updates begin for the season we will post a link here and on our home page.
RHYOLITE—(four miles West of Beatty on Hwy 374) Boom to bust, the story of many early mining towns in Nevada run about the same, but Rhyolite is quite the exception. It certainly boomed and it definitely busted, but what remains of what could-have-been is a must-see for any visitor to Beatty. Just four miles west of Beatty, Rhyolite was born in 1905, when samples of gold-laced rock were found in the Bullfrog Mining District. Such a discovery resulted in the usual real estate boom.
In fact, Rhyolite reached its peak in 1907, with an estimated 8,000-10,000 residents. But even more remarkable than the subsequent population spurt was the potential Rhyolite had — and embraced – to become the next Nevada metropolis. Built of stone and concrete, the town had three-story office buildings, banks, churches, an opera house, hotels, a school, dozens of streets, all complete with plumbing, electricity and telephone service. The town even had a stock exchange and gained the attention of investors in New York and San Francisco, as stock promoters sold speculative shares in Rhyolite ventures. Not to mention the red light district...
How could a town that seemed set to stand the test of time, crumble to the ghost town status it proclaims today? Rhyolite has been likened to “the culmination of the gold rush era.” Those who had missed out on earlier booms weren’t going to let this one pass them by, but the fervor was really for nothing as Rhyolite was only able to establish one mine. And that one, the Montgomery, wasn’t even profitable, only $2 million in gold had been taken when it closed in 1911.
While you are here, be sure to visit the famous Kelly Bottle House, Goldwell Open Air Museum and Historic Rhyolite Train Depot.
Goldwell Open Air Museum—you’re in the middle of the desert, on your way to visit the area’s premiere ghost town (Rhyolite), and suddenly off to the left you see a towering woman and a series of ghostly forms. This is the Goldwell Open Air Art Museum featuring the Painted Lady, a ghostly representation of the Last Supper, a ghostly bike rider, a “desert flower” and others. While you might think that this is a strange location for a modern art Sculpture garden, each piece has a tie with the history of the area—even the penguin following the miner!
The mining Tunnel—(Just past Death Valley mile post 14) You will find an abandoned tunnel in a rock outcropping on the right, a few short feet from the road. Stop, get out your flashlight, and explore! Less than a hundred feet long the tunnel is tall enough for most tall people to stand erect, the floor is flat, and there are no holes. What the miner was seeking is something of a mystery, but the tunnel shows that he was an experienced miner. Be sure to watch for local inhabitants and give them room--they prefer solitude! The National Park has deemed this mining tunnel to be unsafe and you can no longer enter it. However, because of its length, you can still use your flash light or the flash on your camera to see into the tunne.
Hell’s Gate—16 to 19 miles from Beatty (on Hwy 374 begining at approximately Death Valley Mile Post 10). Imagine traveling in a wagon and coming out of the canyon to be hit with a wall of heat that is like opening an oven door. You can experience this today by opening your car windows and sticking your hand out beginning at about 16 miles from Beatty. Within the next mile or so you should be able to feel the sudden change in temperature! Welcome to Hell’s Gate. When the wind is blowing, as it often does in this area, the temperature change is more gradual with pockets of warmer and cooler air until a short distance before the Hell's Gate Rest Area.
Just around the corner is the Hell’s gate information area and your first spectacular view of Death Valley opens out in front of you. There are few other locations with such a photographic view of such a large area-be sure to get a picture or two!
While Beatty is known as the Scenic Gateway to Death Valley there is a wealth of desert experiences awaiting you in the immediate Beatty area. You can spend mornings exploring the desert and old mining communities, then escape the afternoon heat in the local shops and casino. Here are some possibilities:
BEATTY MUSEUM--The Beatty Museum and Historical Society that you will visit today is only the latest in what seems like an ever evolving effort to preserve the history of the town, the county, and the Bullfrog Mining District. Began by three women of Beatty, who had “played in Rhyolite and roamed the hills of the Bullfrog Mining District,” the first museum, established in 1995, was just a small cottage. The collection of documents, books, photos and other artifacts has grown into its current home on Beatty’s Main Street. The latest edition to the museum is an outdoor display of equipment used in the old mining district. The Beatty Museum and Historical Society is open Monday through Sunday, from 10 AM to 4 PM. Phone: 775-553-2303. Follow the link above to visit the Beatty Museum site.
Bailey’s Hot Springs, a former railroad depot (once known as Hicks Hot Springs), was built around 1905. In 1907 Bailey’s became a watering stop for the Bullfrog-Goldfield line, and the first baby born in the district, a little girl, was born here. Today there are three private bath houses available, seven days a week with temperatures ranging from 100 to 108 degrees. There is also a RV park on site with 14 RV spaces. Phone: 775-553-2395
Beatty Mudmound--From a distance this fascinating outcropping of limestone, about 2 miles south and east of town is simply an out cropping of pale gray rock. But once up close and personal, the casual rock hound can find a wealth of excellently preserved fossil remains some 480 million years old: sponges, tiny crustaceans-related to barnacles, gastropods, and brachiopods as well as others. These Ordovician mudmmounds/ bioherms were, in effect, huge underwater mud dunes, able to trap sediments driven by the prevailing sea currents. The mudmound near Beatty probably developed scores of miles from the ancient Ordovician shoreline in seawater shallow enough to allow monstrous algae mats to flourish and enormous quantities of animal life to thrive along the flanks of the mound.
The Swiss Cheese Outcropping-- This unusual rock formation can be found a few miles outside of Beatty, near the Mudmound. Filled with holes this outcropping is an interesting place to explore. You might choose to camp in the area protected by this formation, and you just might be treated to a sighting of a bighorn sheep.
Marta Becket’s Amargosa Opera House is an adventure that encompasses dance, theater, and art in a way that you may see nowhere else in the world. An entire audience adorns the walls, filled with characters who might have attended an opera back in the 16th century. Even the ceiling boasts a mural with cherubs, clouds, music playing ladies, and white doves. Reservations are suggested for theatrical events, but even if you cannot make a show, the Opera House itself is worth a visit. Phone: 760-852-4441
BIRDING--A true oasis from the harsh environments of the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts — the trees, wetlands and open spaces along the Amargosa River also give habitat to year-round resident birds and nesting seasonal birds, regularly supporting 21 species that have been identified as NV Partners in Flight conservation priorities. Surveys have recorded some 100 species of Neotropical migrants that make use of this area during spring or fall migration. The area also hosts a significant number of single-species concentrations, with more than 25,000 individuals from four groups of the wood warbler family passing through each spring. For optimal viewing, birders should check out areas along the Amargosa River, Species Springs, Vanderbilt Springs, and Indian Springs.
THE AMARGOSA RIVER surfaces on the north end of Beatty, flows through town and down to the south of the narrows. Past the narrows, the River dips, taking the water deep underground, where it doesn’t resurface again until it reaches Amargosa Valley 30 miles away.
SPECIES SPRINGS is another watering hole that is in Tarantula Canyon about five miles southeast of Beatty.
VANDERBILT SPRINGS and Bombo’s Pond are south of town, right next to Highway 95. Hidden by the tamarisk trees, this watering hole is enjoyed by many for catch-and-release fishing.
Indian Springs is four miles northwest of Beatty.
DESERT ADVENTURES OFFROADING
Think you’re tough? These proving grounds put the extreme in extreme possibilities. So maybe your scene is hang-gliding or endurance racing, sandboarding or rock climbing,mountain biking or ATV exploration. Or maybe you just like taking your aggression out on a long, lost weekend. No matter. Prepare to get up-close and personal with a whole new level of punishment when you take it up against the most hostile and demanding rival you’ll ever encounter! Beatty, Death Valley and the ocean of public lands surrounding the Backcountry roads that crisscross the desert offer excitement to the adventure traveler visiting the Beatty area. These roads require, at a minimum, a vehicle with high ground clearance, but four-wheel drive is necessary to maneuver through the tougher passages. Be sure to stock up on emergency provisions and water in Beatty before you hit the backcountry.
If you are into challenging the desert on foot then consider Beatty’s Rivers & Trails Program offerings. This program outlines a proposed Beatty Trials Network currently being developed and lead by the Central Nevada Recreation Partnership. Individual trails will include viewing areas, picnicking and rest areas, and information kiosks. Work has already begun on the Beatty-to-Rhyolite trail.
Among the challenging destinations you will want to choose are:
Chloride City Ghost Town - a 14-mile route to great panoramic views of the valley and one of the earliest mining sites in Death Valley.
Titus Canyon - a 27-mile one-way track that travels from east to west through the Grapevine Mountains, the ghost town of Leadfield, the Klare Springs Indian petroglyph site and the spectacular Titus Canyon then ends in Death Valley.
Amargosa Wash Trail - Beatty to Torrance Ranch at Amargosa Narrows. Parallels wash. Highlights: Nature walks, bird watching, toad habitat.
West Parker Ranch Loop - Sober Up Gulch to State Route 374 at Old Railroad Grade into Beatty. Highlights: Old railroad grade, burros, petroglyphs. Good for mountain bike use and low impact 4x4.
Tarantula Canyon Loop Trail - Amargosa Narrows, Flourospar Canyon, Secret Pass, Species Springs, Tarantula Canyon to Steve’s Pass and U.S. Highway 95. Highlights: burro viewing, scenic, active mining, and a chance to see the illusive bighorn sheep.
Rhyolite Trail - West from Beatty along an old railroad grade to Rhyolite.
Mud Springs/Sarcobatus Flat/Bonnie Claire Trail - South of Rhyolite at State Route 374 into Death Valley, Bullfrog Mountain, Bonnie Claire and State Route 267. Highlights: Mud Springs, Buck Springs, historical mining, burro viewing, old railroad grade, Bonnie Claire.
Montgomery Mountain Trail - Highlights: Old railroad grades, historical mining site, Montgomery Paradise Mountain.
Beatty To Lathrop Wells And Big Dune - Beatty through Gold Center. Highlights: Lathrop Wells Space Museum, Old Railroad Grade, and Big Dunes.
Beatty To Upper And Lower Indian Springs Trail - Travel north from Beatty to Indian Springs with connection to Rhyolite Rail Trail. Highlights: Riparian and burro viewing, Indian Springs.
Bullfrog Hills - Highlights: Scenic and burro viewing.
Cistern Spur - Cistern Spur off Tarantula Canyon Loop. Highlights: Cistern developed by outlaws or Spaniards.
Torrance Mountain Bike Loop Trail - Trail starts at U.S. Highway 95 and loops through Sober Up Gulch. Highlights: Geologic features and scenic loop.
Strozzi Ranch Trail - Trail travels through open desert and canyon to historic Strozzi Ranch, crossing railroad grade. Highlights: Riparian scenic, historic ranch.
Beatty Mountain - Trail starts in Beatty and loops around the Canyon on old mining road. Hiking and bike trail only. Highlights: Mining ruins.
Perlite Canyon - Highlights: Scenic geological features and spring desert flowers.
MOTOCROSS and SANDBOARDING
In the Beatty & Amargosa Area
Small and steep, long and fast, an endless ocean of crescent, star and linear dunes with jumps, slopes, dips, and dives invite you to come carve it up.
Amargosa Big Dunes/Beatty Dunes — a
magnificent, five-square-mile playground of dunes, some reaching 500 feet in height; Amargosa Valley via U.S. Highway 95 to Valley View Road, two miles west, then follow the dirt road to the dunes.
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK
Rightly judged the most extreme environment on the North American continent — gives summons to geology enthusiasts and nature lovers alike with 3.3 million acres of pristine and intensely complex desert terrain, and rare flora and fauna uniquely adapted to the Mojave Desert. Before visiting Death Valley, be sure to call their visitor center to gather roads and weather information that will make your visit safer and much more enjoyable. Their phone number is: 775-786-3200, or you can visit their website at: nps.gov/deva.
CLIMATE: Hottest, driest in North America, witnessing the second-highest recorded temperature —134 degrees Fahrenheit — in 1913.
ELEVATION: Lowest in the North America, with a 550-square-mile area measured below sea level; contains the lowest point recorded in the Western Hemisphere – 282 feet below sea level in an area near Badwater. Also contains high-level elevations such as Telescope Peak, which measures over 11,000 feet.
HABITAT: From barren saltpan (an area defined by a lack of vegetation) to sub-alpine (an area defined primarily by spare cover but capable of sustaining an abundance of vegetation where water is available). Hosts three biotic life zones — lower Sonoran, Canadian and Artic/Alpine; microhabitats provide further zone division of the valley floor.
WILDLIFE: 51 species of native mammals, 307 species of birds, 36 species of reptiles, 3 species of amphibians, and 5 species and a single subspecies of native fish. Large mammals include the desert bighorn, coyote, bobcat, mountain lion and mule deer.
VEGETATION: Scrub, desert woodland and coniferous forest. At lower elevations, desert contains creosote bush, desert holly and mesquite; at increasingly higher elevations, sage, shadscale, blackbrush, Joshua tree, pinion-juniper, limber pine and bristlecone pine. Over 1,000 plant species, including 13 species of cactus and 23 varieties endemic to Death Valley. Peak blooming times for wildflowers are mid-February to mid-April on the valley floor; early April to early May at 2,000 to 4,000 feet; late April to early June above 4,000 feet.
A castle “built on lies,” today you can take guided tours through this legendary castle in a desert oasis on the northern edge of Death Valley. A fantastic blend of self supporting technology and luxurious furnishings, this desert mansion is a stop you must make during any trip to the Beatty area and Death Valley. Living History tours of the castle are presented hourly every day.
Death Valley Day Hikes
From one-quarter mile to eight miles, you won’t have to cover a lot of ground to find yourself in the midst of Death Valley’s colorful canyons and badlands, salt pinnacles, borax mines and endemic plant and wildlife. For more information about these hikes, visit the Death Valley National Park Visitor’s Center at Furnace Creek.
The Hebe Craters - a one mile round-trip along the west rim of the Ubehebe Crater to Little Hebe and others.
Titus Canyon Narrows - a three-mile round-trip hike through canyon narrows; a 13-mile round-trip hike to see the petroglyphs at Klare Springs.
Keane Wonder Mine Trail - a steep two-mile round-trip trail leads to panoramic views and an old mine. Entry to mine prohibited.
Keane Wonder Springs - an easy two-mile round-trip to sulfur springs.
Sand Dunes - a four-mile trail-less romp through gorgeous desert dunes.
Salt Creek Interpretive Trail - an easy half-mile self-guided trail to view Death Valley’s pupfish and other wild creatures.
Harmony Borax Works Interpretive Trail - an easy quarter-mile round-trip hike along a paved trail around the ruins of a borax plant.
Mosaic Canyon - a four-mile round-trip walk along the polished marble walls of this ancient canyon.
Golden Canyon Interpretive Trail - a self-guided two-mile round-trip hike through a beautifully colorful canyon.
Gowar Gultch Trail - a moderate four-mile round-trip hike through colorful badlands and through abandoned borax mines. Not recommended for summertime travel.
Desolation Canyon - a two-mile round-trip hike up-canyon through colorful badlands.
Death Valley Road Trips
From rough wash board roads that encourage slowing down to take in the sights (and save your vehicle), to Extreme Four-Wheeling requiring an experienced driver, you will find it all in Death Valley. Be sure to check on road conditions before taking on these roads, many follow canyons that can become impassable after a heavy rain.
Phinney Canyon - a 22-mile route that begins 12 miles north of Beatty and travels through pinion pine woodlands to gather views of the Grapevine Mountains and the Sierra Nevada.
Cottonwood & Marble Canyons- travel up the alluvial fan before reaching the Cottonwood Canyon mouth; a side road at the end of the first narrows leads to Marble Canyon; 13 miles through Marble Canyon; 16 miles through Cottonwood Canyon.
Lemoigne Canyon - 4.4 miles of fierce 4x4 tracks that cross an alluvial fan to the mouth of the canyon.
Echo Canyon - this 10-mile deep-gravel route offers views of interesting and colorful geologic formations, such as the Needle’s Eye, and the ruins of mines.
Hole in the Wall - a four-mile journey up a gravel wash to the 400-foot-deep gap; a 4x4 is needed to continue through to road’s end.
Trail Canyon - a 12-mile climb up the Panamint Mountainsto an old mining area.
Got a mountain goat tangled up in your genetic rope? Then select a Trail where you can enjoy a hard scramble on these non-trails inside Death Valley.
Red Wall Canyon - a six-mile round-trip hike up this red mountain canyon along the alluvial fan.
Fall Canyon - a seven-mile round-trip hike through the beautiful narrows of this desert wilderness canyon.
Death Valley Buttes - a four-mile round-trip hike along the hills, buttes and ridges at the foot of the Grapevine Mountains.
Little Bridge Canyon - a six-mile round-trip hike reveals the natural wonders of the dessert terrain.
Dunes in Death Valley
Mesquite Dunes--a large field of crescent, star and linear dunes, with the highest rising about 100 feet; off U.S. Highway 190, near Stovepipe Wells.
Panamint Dunes— star dunes offering a magnificent view down the valley; tough to reach, but worth the effort: Panamint Valley via U.S. Highway 190 to Big Four Mine dirt road, then a three-mile cross-country hike.
Saline Valley Dunes--Located in the northern portion of Saline Valley can be reached by State Highway 190, and by driving north from Death Valley passing the Ubehebe craters. A rugged desert environment, roads can be in poor
condition following storms. Travelers need to carefully prepare for trips into the area where there are no services.
Eureka Dunes--Accessible by most standard vehicles by the Death Valley/Big Pine road. From the Ubhebe Crater Road you travel 44 miles to the dunes. The last few miles is the narrow South Eureka Road. During bad weather all access to the dunes may be closed.
Ibex Dunes--In the very south-eastern part of Death Valley, west of highway 127. These dunes are reached by driving about 1 mile west of Little Dumont, taking a right on the dirt road next to the historical Marker. About 4 miles in you will see the dunes off to the right. Then you must hike from the Saratoga Springs Road to the dunes. An old talc mine overlooks the dunes.
Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge--Spring-fed wetlands and alkaline desert. Currently in porcess of restoring the wetlands to inprove habitate for 24 species of plants and animals unique to the world.