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: Cynthia’s. At the shady China Ranch oasis three miles down the road, visitors are encouraged and enabled to unplug and connect with the Mojave Desert via guided safaris and rustic teepee accommodations.
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, 38 miles 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 aside from the stunning desert landscape, 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 cell service nor internet, but no matter—the digital world can’t compare to the excitement of the nighttime desert sky when you peek outside. Cozy vintage trailer accommodations are also available, which have their own bathroom and air-conditioning.
Book a five-day safari, which includes two days of accompanied activities in the Amargosa Valley, two days in Death Valley, plus breakfast every day and two dinners. There are two-day adventures as well, and all stays are sure to be filled with stargazing, soaks in natural hot springs, and campfire lounging.
Get up early and hike from your teepee door or trailer-cabin 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.