Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park
Stovepipe Wells was the first tourist resort in Death Valley. It was opened by Herman "Bob" Eichbaum in 1925. Stovepipe Wells was originally nicknamed Bungalette City. Eichbaum had constructed 20 green and white tent style bungalows, a restaurant, general store and a pump station. In 1926, the Stovepipe Wells Hotel opened. Several months later a more luxurious hotel opened at Furnace Creek.
Currently, Stovepipe Wells has two restaurants (they operate out of the same kitchen), bungalows, tent sites, gas station and a general store. Often the tent spots are closed if it is too hot.
For people camping anywhere in Death Valley there are a few things that are very important. First, all visitors to the general store are given a free bag of ice! Second and just as important, the hotel has a pool with shower. You can purchase a day pass for only $4.00 and have access to the pool and shower all day. This was a huge convenience on my 4 day camping trip as the heat hit 112 degrees each day!
If you ever wondered how or why the Stovepipe Wells campground and hotel got its name, there is a pretty good story to it. The Mesquite Dunes area was once at the intersection of two Indian trails. At this junction was a watering hole. During the height of the mining rush blowing sand accumulated to a point where it obscured to watering hole. To mark the location of the hole, A length of "stove pipe" was inserted into the sand to mark the location.
It reads: NO. 848 EICHBAUM TOLL ROAD - In 1926, H. W. Eichbaum obtained a franchise for a toll road from Darwin Falls to Stovepipe Wells, the first maintained road into Death Valley from the west. It changed the area's economic base from mining to tourism and brought about the creation of Death Valley National Monument seven years later.
California Registered Historical Landmark No. 848
Plaque placed by the State Departments of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the Death Valley 49ers, Inc., November 12, 1971.
A nice place to stop for a rest break as you drive through the park is Stovepipe Wells Village. Here you will find a nice inn, a place to eat and a place to find a beer (which is very welcome on a typical 120 degree day). There is also a Visitor’s Center and a store for buying provisions and gas.
Just 3 miles south of the orginal site is the village that has California Historical Marker No.441 site of Burned Wagons Point. In 1849 some Jayhawkers miners while trying to establish a shorter route, stopped here and burned what wagons they could spare to dry out some oxen meat to survive. They contiued on with what surviving animals they had. Stovepipe Wells Village has many amenities.
Stovepipe Wells Village
Death Valley, California 92328
The orginal historical site of Stovepipe is 3 miles north of state route 190. It was named because of the 5 feet of stovepipe pushed into a well. It was one of the main stops for stagecoaches and supplies trains has they travel through DV.
Stovepipe Wells Village
The more we drive into the Death valley, the less vegetation. Stovepipe junction is still ahead. But why "Stovepipe" ? I can bet that has something to do with the temperature in summer. In April, it is warm but not too much.
Located very close to Stovepipe Wells are the 14-square-mile field of sand dunes.
Suggestions for your visit:
The dunes can be explored by foot (park on the side of the road). There is no trail, but that is part of the fun, you can create your own trail. Hiking the dunes is best in the morning or late afternoon as it is cooler. Also at these hours, the dunes are most photogenic. The shadows are longer because the sun is lower in the sky.
In 1894, steam tractor and ore wagons were introduced at old borate to replace the twenty mule teams. The tractor was later used and abandoned on the Beatty-Keane wonder mine road. The steam tractor was later replaced by a railroad.
Mules driven wagons have been kept and are on display. After borax was dug, it was loaded on these wagons. The wagons were drawn by a team of twenty mules that followed the mule team drive (see following tip)
If you want to see real desert sand dunes, you have to stop by Stovepipe Wells. The dunes start by the roadside and you can walk as far as you like.
Here you will find a great landscape of sand dunes, combined with bushes, some small salt plains, and the mountains in the background.
If you want a picture without lots of footprints in the sand, you will most likely have to walk for at least 20 minutes or so.
Ever wonder where Stovepipe Wells got its name? Well, there is a well. It's located about 9 miles northeast of the town of Stovepipe Wells, just off Route 190. During the bonanza days of Rhyolite and Skidoo, this waterhole was the only known water source in the sand dune area of the valley. When sand obscured the spot, a length of stovepipe was inserted as a marker. Hence its unique name.
Located very close to Stovepipe Wells are the undulating sand dunes. They are being continually recreated by the winds which carry sand from the mountains and then deposit it here. The dunes can be explored by foot (park on the side of the road). There is no trail, but that is part of the fun, you can create your own trail.
The Sand Dunes are best seen and visited from the main road near Stovepipe Wells. We didn't have time to walk up there, but we saw a few people going and returning. So if not on a tight schedule, it's a good idea to stop here and get to see these ever changing sand dunes a bit closer.
One of the few points of civilization in the park, Stovepipe Wells hosts a motel (with swimming pool), a gift shop, a gas station, and a restaurant.