VBT will offer a shuttle from the Las Vegas Airport (LAS) to Furnace Creek, departing the airport at 9:00 am. Please meet the shuttle at Zero Level of Terminal 1 (down the escalator from baggage claim). The shuttle and/or driver will be displaying a “VBT” sign. If you are arriving after the shuttle departs or if your flight is delayed, you must make your own arrangements to reach Furnace Creek. You will meet your VBT Trip Leaders at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center at 11:30 am.
For guests driving to the tour, plan to meet us at the Visitor Center. You will then need to shuttle your car to the Inn at Furnace Creek where parking is available for four days without charge. Your Trip Leaders will let you know where to leave your car.
There will be time to enjoy the excellent presentations available at the recently renovated Visitor Center before a picnic. After lunch, join your Trip Leaders for a safety and bike-fitting session. Then, we're off to explore this astounding landscape!
On today's shorter option, we ride to the Harmony Borax Works. Here, you can walk the interpretive trail and learn how Borax deposits were discovered here in 1881. The Harmony operation, run by business associates Coleman & Smith, was best known in the 1880s – and now – for its 20-mule teams that hauled double wagons of borax along an overland route to the closest railroad in Mojave, California. The Harmony Works remained under Coleman's operation for just five years, until 1888, when his business collapsed. After time to explore, we continue to the inn.
On our longer option, cycle to the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. One of the most popular sites in the park, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are at the northern end of the valley floor near the village of Stovepipe Wells. Because of the dune's easy access from the road and the overall proximity of Death Valley to Hollywood, these dunes have been used to film sand dune scenes for several movies including films in the Star Wars series. The largest dune is called Star Dune, whose depth at its crest is 130–140 feet. Other dunes in the area are up to 700 feet deep. There'll be time to take in these towering wonders before shuttling or riding to the inn.
Tonight, get to know your fellow travelers during a wine and cheese reception. We'll have dinner together in the inn's dining room.
Today's rides originate from our inn. After breakfast, we ride south, descending through the valley on relatively level and very scenic roads. Our destination is the Badwater Basin.
Welcome to the lowest point in North America! Take some time to stroll the boardwalk over the salt flats here. From this lowest point in North America, it is possible on very clear days to view the highest point in the lower 48, Mount Whitney, standing just 85 miles away.
Badwater Basin gets its name from the salt-rich waters left behind when an ancient lake evaporated here. These salt flats, many of them etched into hexagonal grids, are still fed by an underground spring, but the water never stays for long with the valley's rapid evaporation rate. Despite that the water in the pool is undrinkable (hence the basin's name), it does harbor some animal and plant life. Pickle weed, aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail all thrive here.
You may shuttle or ride back to the inn. Up for a challenge today? You can join us for an invigorating reel along the steep, dipping, curving and narrow roadway known as Artist's Drive. This one-way circuit is a 9-mile jug-handle that we can detour onto from our return route. The highlight of this thrilling loop is a lookout point called Artist's Palette, where mineral deposits appear as brilliantly colored paint splotches against a drab “canvas.”
Our Trip Leaders provide a picnic lunch today.
Back at the inn, you can take the afternoon to relax at the pool, get a massage, play a round at the nearby golf course, or visit the Borax Museum. Options for dinner on your own include the inn's dining room and the 49er Café at the Furnace Creek Ranch.
Enjoy breakfast at the inn. Then you might opt to get an early start on today's long option, a challenging ascent up to Dante's View. You may begin your ride either at our inn or nearer the foot of our ascent. The views are spectacular, eerie, and starkly beautiful. As we climb, Badwater Basin unfolds below and soon the entire southern basin of Death Valley comes into view.
Our shorter option starts with a shuttle to Dante's View. After time to enjoy the magnificent view thrill to an exciting downhill coast back to the junction. Then, you can choose to catch our shuttle or ride back to the inn. This is a continuous downhill, descending 5,500 feet over 23 miles back to the inn.
After lunch, you may join an afternoon hike in Golden Canyon. Our two-mile trail winds through twisting narrows and colorful rock formations, delivering us to a spectacular view of Manly Beacon and Red Cathedral. Tonight we have a final dinner together at the inn.
Relax over breakfast at the resort before saying goodbye to your Trip Leaders. Then, we board our 9:00 am shuttle for a drive north through Death Valley.
After about an hour's drive, we arrive at the Death Valley Ranch, hidden in the green oasis of Grapevine Canyon in the northern reaches of Death Valley. Scotty's Castle, as it is commonly known, offers a window into the life and times of the Roaring '20s and the Depression '30s. It was and is an engineer's dream home, a wealthy matron's vacation home and the hideout and getaway of a man of mystery. We enjoy an hour-long guided tour with a keeper of the house and have lunch here on your own.
We continue to the Las Vegas Airport, about a 3-hour drive. We do not recommend flights departing before 4:30 pm.