Summer at The Inn at Furnace Creek

It's hot outside, but the elegant Death Valley hotel is open -- with a few asterisks.

Furnace Creek Resort

A NATIONAL PARK TO YOURSELF: Even if you arrive in Yellowstone National Park in the snowiest part of January, or Death Valley National Park in the heat of July, you won't ever truly have a national park all to yourself. True, traffic is sure to be lighter — often a lot lighter — than a national park during its peak season, and hotel rooms likely easier to get (if the hotel you want is open). But having a place sort of to yourself, or at least to yourself in a time when fewer people visit, does feel rather special.

THE QUIET... can feel more clear, the views can seem longer, and you can locate a hike or vista that just might be empty, or mostly so. And while the hotels inside Death Valley do not close the shutters when the three-digit temperatures rev up, The Inn at Furnace Creek does move to a "limited basis" of operation in July and August. Yes, that includes a few restricted services — the hotel's dining room keeps dinner-only hours as well as gratis coffee in the mornings — and the gift shop will take the afternoons off. This can all feel, though, a little slower in pace, delightfully so, if that's just the tonic you've been longing for in your go-go-go day-to-day world.

DO NOTE... that The Ranch at Furnace Creek, a pop down the road, also has a small store and services, so if you need to slip away for a quick shopping trip, you can, even at the height of summer. It's a time when Death Valley is slight less hub-bub-ier, and even The Inn at Furnace Creek slows it down, a bit, in deference to the toasty time of year. For some travelers, though, that's a sunny slice of unhurried bliss.

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