Stovepipe Wells is located on California Highway 190 in Death Valley National Park. This landmark resort village is next to Mosaic Canyon, Mesquite Dunes and the Devil’s Cornfield, so there is plenty to experience in this area. Stovepipe Wells offers accommodations with all amenities in a simple facility and there is a general store on the premises. Stovepipe Wells is also one of the few places to find fuel in Death Valley, so this is an important landmark to remember.
Stovepipe Wells started as a mining community in the early 1900s and like most mining operations in Death Valley, the job was nearly impossible because of the extreme heat. When the age of the automobile began, a toll road was built through Death Valley, which later became Highway 190. Opportunity knocked when tourists in horseless carriages started passing through Death Valley and the small mining camp was reborn as a tourism destination. In 1925 a hotel resort was built at Stovepipe Wells to accommodate tourists driving on the Death Valley Toll Road. Stovepipe Wells eventually evolved into a small hotel resort village complete with a campground, saloon, restaurant, general store, gas station and a small airport.
The old Stovepipe Wells Hotel is now a National Historic Landmark. Stovepipe Wells Village is a busy destination and tourists flock to this place to find relief from the extreme heat. I stopped at Stovepipe Wells on the way to the Mosaic Canyon and the employees at the general store were very courteous and professional. This resort has a modern design and it is well maintained, so a letdown will not likely occur.
The day after I visited Stovepipe Wells, a rare torrential summer monsoon rain storm struck the area. The dry wash that runs from Mosaic Canyon at the top of the mountain goes straight downhill to Stovepipe Wells, so as can be imagined, a flash flood roared downhill through the resort property. The resort was flooded and the guests had to be temporarily evacuated that evening. I was working at another Death Valley resort just down the road in Furnace Creek at that time and many people from Stovepipe Wells sought refuge at our resort. The funny thing is, the Furnace Creek Resort is also located where another dry wash winds down from the Funeral Mountains, so that area was subject to flash floods too. Luckily, the Furnace Creek flash flood stayed within the Funeral Mountain dry wash boundaries, so all was well.
The Death Valley environment is very unforgiving, but fortunately there is some comfort to be found in this inhospitable place. Stovepipe Wells is one of the only resort destinations in this vast National Park and it is a nice spot to take a siesta during the peak heat of the day. Hikes through the Mesquite Dunes across the street are a great experience and the mountain dry wash that goes to Mosaic Canyon is straight uphill. The beautiful views of Death Valley from the high elevation Mosaic Canyon are part of the reason why Stovepipe Wells is a favorite of visitors!
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