Amargosa Opera House & Hotel (Death Valley Junction, California, USA)


Hello, inquisitive people. Wander Woman here. Today we’re visiting a little slice of Americana that’s very off the beaten path. It’s one of the most quirky, unique, and memorable accommodations I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.


This building is located in Death Valley Junction, California, which is described (per Wikipedia) as having a population of “fewer than four people.”

The “town” of Death Valley Junction consists of the opera house/hotel and a scattering of abandoned outbuildings. It’s approximately 25 miles (40 km) from the Death Valley National Park entrance.

This makes it an ideal accommodation for travelers intent on visiting the park… but you have to know what you’re signing up for. This is no ordinary hotel.


Amargosa Opera House & Hotel, The Best Attraction

The building was constructed between 1923 and 1925 and was originally a theater, recreation hall, and dormitory for a borax mining camp that once existed on the current site. It was abandoned and crumbling when discovered in 1967 by an eccentric New York artist and performer named Marta Becket, who happened upon it during a visit to nearby Las Vegas. At first sight, Ms. Becket fell in love with the building, leased it, and began a repair campaign, including hand-painting murals throughout much of the theater and attached hotel.


National Geographic Journalist STARs here

Ballet-trained, she started organizing nightly performances whether or not she had a crowd to dance for. Since the theater was isolated in the desert, it was standard for there to be no audience at all. Becket and her theater were discovered in 1970 by National Geographic magazine journalists, sparking national and international interest. Her subsequent shows were frequently sold out. Ms. Becket continued performing at the opera house until 2012 and passed away in 2017.

A Great Tourist Attraction, The Amargosa Opera House

Today, the opera house can be toured, and the hotel is open for business, albeit in a state of what can best be described as arrested decay. It is by no means luxurious, but it’s an accommodation you will remember for the rest of your life.

The floors are uneven, the paint is peeling, the plumbing is temperamental, and some windows are cracked. And yet, despite all its flaws, it was an absolute privilege to spend a night in a piece of living history.


Suppose your travels ever bring you to this very out-of-the-way corner of California. In that case, I recommend at least a tour, and possibly overnight, at the Amargosa Opera House & Hotel.



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