Most people visit Tecopa for a quick soak in the old mining town’s artesian mineral waters, but now there’s a reason to linger: One of three luxury canvas teepees at the shady China Ranch oasis three miles down the road could be your unconventional lodging in the Mojave Desert.
“I am providing a place where you can get in touch with nature, which will change the way you think. It will make a better human of you.” — Cynthia Keinitz, owner, Cynthia’s lodging near Death Valley
Owner Cynthia Keinitz, a former head of a successful design firm based in Las Vegas and Chicago, decided to ditch the rat race and reconnect with herself and nature. In the Amargosa Canyon, 61 Kilometres south of Death Valley Junction, she bought a circa-1920 cottage and named it Ranch House. Her trio of canvas teepees sits in a leafy grove of cottonwoods, just steps from the cottage, where guests swap tales of their desert adventures over breakfast (available for an extra fee). Bathrooms and outdoor showers are shared. There’s also an outdoor kitchen with a shared fridge and microwave.
But the teepees are the stars here. Don’t think cramped quarters—each teepee is 22 feet wide and sleeps four. Turkish rugs, plush linens, and heated mattress pads for winter nights make them surprisingly homey. While coyotes howl in the distance and desert winds blow, you’ll be snug as bugs inside. The teepees have no phone service nor internet, but no matter—the digital world can’t compare to the excitement of the nighttime desert sky when you peek outside.
Get up early and hike from your teepee door into Amargosa Canyon, where birds and wildlife thrive along the Amargosa River. Head back to Tecopa to sip a date shake from the adjacent China Ranch Date Farm. Check out the date museum, and then load up your car with fresh dates for the drive into Death Valley.
The thwack of a golf club, the hum of the wind buffeting towering sand dunes, the splash of a dive into a perfect pool—the desert region is a sensory feast.
Following winter rains, springtime wildflowers paint the desert with colour.
Death Valley National Park holds the record for hottest temperature ever recorded (129°F/54°C in 1913), while the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park have giant boulders and alien-like yucca plants. At Anza-Borrego, California’s largest state park, discover amazing springtime wildflowers. The oasis-like Palm Springs region (2 hours east of L.A. and 3 hours northeast of San Diego) has golf resorts, midcentury modern architecture, and every spring, the epic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
For all of the desert’s natural splendor and outdoor destinations, creativity comes with the territory, too. Throughout the year, the region finds ways to celebrate art, design, music, and film...