If you're looking for a hotel for your Death Valley National Park visit, you need to know a few things first.
Death Valley is one of the largest in the country, covering 5,262 square miles. That's 50 percent larger than Yellowstone and 2.5 times the size of Grand Canyon National Park. Grand Canyon has six hotels, and Yellowstone has nine. By contrast, Death Valley has only three hotels — four if you count one that's 55 miles from the visitor and accessed by driving over a high mountain pass.
Staying in a nearby town isn't very practical. The nearest town that has any kind of hotel, motel or other place to stay is at least 60 miles away and it's more than 100 miles to a larger city that has big, posh hotels for you to relax in.
All of that means that your best option for Death Valley lodging is to choose one of the in-park hotels. These are their pluses and minuses.
Death Valley Hotels at The Oasis at Death Valley Resort
The Oasis at Death Valley Resort is centrally located in the park. You'll find two hotels there, two campgrounds, a few places to eat, and a small store.
The Inn at Death Valley (formerly the Furnace Creek Inn) is one of those grand national park hotel built in the early twentieth-century when the parks wanted to be sure that the rich and famous would be comfortable during their visit. It has a spring-fed swimming pool, tennis courts, and a restaurant.
Technically, the Inn is open mid-October through mid-May only, but in reality, you can get a room there the rest of the year - although you won't get all the extra amenities and services. You can find everything you need to know about the Inn at Death Valley in this guide.
The Ranch at Death Valley is a less fancy Death Valley hotel with comfortable, motel-style rooms. It's more affordable than the inn and open year round. Use the Oasis at Death Valley Resort guide to get all the details about staying there.
Stovepipe Wells Village Lodging
Stovepipe Wells is on the north end of Death Valley, near the Mesquite Sand Dunes. It's the place I like to stay best, for both its simplicity and affordable price.
The motel at Stovepipe Wells has a restaurant, swimming pool, and (extremely limited) Internet access. There's also a small store and gas station across the street. They also have camping, including an RV park. It's about a half hour's drive from the Oasis at Death Valley Resort.
Panamint Springs Lodging
You'll have to drive 35 miles west of Stovepipe Wells and about 60 miles from Furnace Creek. To get there, you have to drive over Emigrant Pass, which is 5,318 feet elevation (1.6 km).
Panamint Springs is the least expensive Death Valley (by a small margin), with limited WiFi Internet access. They also have an RV Park and allow pets in both the hotel and campground (extra fee).
Besides the long drive to get there and back, Panamint Springs has some drawbacks. Get details in the Panamint Springs Profile.
Death Valley Hotel Outside the National Park
In the town of Death Valley Junction, southeast of Furnace Creek is the Amargosa Hotel. The adobe building was constructed by the Pacific Coast Borax Company in 1924. Visitor reactions to it are mixed, but some rooms are decorated with charming murals. Get more information at their website.
Just across the state line east of Death Valley, 35 miles from Stovepipe Wells and about 50 miles from Furnace Creek, you'll find several hotels, campgrounds and a couple of casinos in Beatty, Nevada. It's not the most convenient place to anchor a Death Valley visit, but prices are low. Get some ideas, ratings, and rates at Tripadvisor. Beatty may also be a good choice if all the Death Valley hotels are filled up.
Beyond that, you'll drive 100 miles or more to hotels in Lone Pine or Baker, CA or in Pahrump or Las Vegas, NV.