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Scotty's Castle

Visiting Scotty's Castle in Death Valley, California


Scotty's Castle

Scotty's Castle

©2011 Betsy Malloy Photography. Used by Permission.
Scotty's Castle is just a couple of miles east of CA Hwy 190 on Hwy 267.

  • Hours: Hours vary, check current hours
  • Reservations: Tour spots are sold first-come, first served and lines can get long, so go early
  • Cost: Admission fee, children under 5 free
  • Location: North side of Death Valley, driving directions below
  • How Long: Allow one to three hours, depending on whether you take both tours
  • Best Time to Visit: Any time it's open
It's not really a castle, just a big house with a tower - and Scotty never owned it. Its formal name is Death Valley Ranch, but everyone just calls it Scotty's Castle. This big house in the California desert has an interesting and colorful history, all related to the man for whom it's named, Death Valley Scotty.

Born Walter Scott, a former rodeo cowboy and wild-west-show performer, he claimed to own a gold mine in Death Valley, California. Albert Johnson, president of Chicago's National Life Insurance Company invested in the mine, but grew suspicious and went west to California for a visit, starting a lifelong friendship between the unlikely pair.

Johnson's health improved in the California desert climate, and he built a vacation home here. Johnson visited occasionally, but Scotty was the one who took up residence in the house, claiming he built it with his gold mine proceeds and calling it Scotty's Castle.

Visiting Scotty's Castle

We like Scotty's Castle for its desert quirkiness. Besides the house, Death Valley Ranch also includes an electricity-generating powerhouse, solar water heater (built in 1929), a bell tower, stables, guest houses and cookhouse. Some can be seen only from outside. To get inside, join a ranger-led tour. They go inside the house, underground or even on a hike out to Scotty's real house (winter-spring only).

If you have spare time while waiting for a tour, it's only a 1/4-mile walk up to Scotty's Grave and you can also take a look at the exhibits inside the visitor center. Near the parking lot is the only shaded picnic area in all of Death Valley.

You can buy dry snacks and water at Scotty's Castle, but that's all. They had a gas station years ago, but it's now closed.

Getting to Scotty's Castle

Scotty's Castle
Death Valley National Park
Scotty's Castle website
Scotty's Castle and Museum is located on Scotty's Castle Road at the north end of Death Valley, 53 miles from Furnace Creek. Take CA Hwy 190 north to Hwy 267 and turn right. Scotty's Castle will be on the left.
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