Desert getaways during the cool season

October 26, 2011|By Cary Ordway,
  • Furnace Creek Inn and its colorful desert setting draw visitors year round, but it is especially popular in the cooler months of the year. (Courtesy of California Weekend Getaways)
Furnace Creek Inn and its colorful desert setting draw…

When the calendar says October, it’s time in California to start thinking about a desert getaway because it won’t be long before temperatures come down enough to make a trip to the desert quite appealing. The sun’s still there in the late fall and winter, but those oppressive summer daytime temperatures moderate quite a bit.

With its unique plants, topography and gorgeous views, the desert can be a magical place. The cooler months offer the best hiking weather of the year and you’ll love exploring a landscape that can be both barren and awe-inspiring at the same time.

The other part of the desert experience is the sunshine. Daytime brightness and warmth are always dependable in the desert, no matter what time of year. While it can be toasty in the summer, the cooler months are downright comfortable. Here are a few of our favorite desert getaways.

Death Valley

There is no question that your trip to Death Valley will be much more enjoyable in the cooler months. And the Furnace Creek Inn, open just part of the year, makes it just that much more enjoyable. Originally just a small resort when it opened back in 1927, the inn’s adobe bricks were hand-made by local Native Americans, and the resort was built on a hill with panoramic views of the valley and the 11,000-foot mountains nearby. Today, Furnace Creek Inn is among the most popular destinations in Death Valley.


We arrived at night, but we awakened to rays of peek-a-boo sunshine, which added warm colors and sparkle to a magnificent desert landscape.

Experiencing this for the first time, we could understand why Death Valley has captured the hearts of so many visitors who sense an almost spiritual connection with this land. If someone suggests you should get your head examined for going to a place called Death Valley, the truth is this just might be a place to get your head straight. It’s completely unique.

Death Valley National Park consists of 3.3 million acres. It is home to about 900 species of plants, six types of fish, five types of amphibians, 36 types of reptiles and 51 types of mammals that are native to the region. And that’s not counting the 346 species of birds that migrate through the area.

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