China Ranch has such a rich and interesting history for such a small place in such wild surroundings. I highly suggest a visit and a hike if you are within 200 miles of here. Follow the trail right from the parking lot down along the natural arroyo all the way to the lake and mountain squeezes.
Carry lots of water and where a shade hat. If you stay with the small water flowing away from the gift shop you can't get lost. Once you reach the lake and the primary path pretty much ends turn around and retrace your steps. Takes about 4 hours round trip if you take your time and explore along the way.
China Ranch Date Farm includes desert oasis, hiking, camping. China Ranch is set in a true oasis in the middle of the desert. It is at the southern end of the Mojave Desert near Southern Death Valley. It is a working family farm that is open to the public. The date grove was planted from seed in the early 1920's by the youngest daughter of Death Valley area pioneers. Approximately half of the trees are male and produce only pollen. The females bear in the fall, yielding from 100 to 300 pounds of dates in a season.
Above: Picture of Gambel's Quail at China Ranch.
Upon entering the ranch a sign reads...Before the turn of the last century, a Chinese man who had worked in the borax fields in Death Valley came to this canyon. He began a modest farm and ranch, raising fresh produce and meat for the local mines and their workers. It became known as the Chinamans Ranch, and became a desirable place for obvious reasons when compared to the surrounding terrain. In 1900 the Chinese man suddenly and somewhat mysteriously disappeared, and a Dave Morrison filed a deed on the property, proclaiming that it was now Morrison's Ranch. Although the Chinese fellow was never heard from again the name stuck, and it continues to be known as China Ranch.
Above: Picture taken while hiking the area looking back on China Ranch. A shady retreat from the harsh surroundings.
Heading out to the hiking trails behind the gift shop are tall Cottonwood and Willow trees that follow the China Ranch Creek. Activities include hiking, sightseeing, birdwatching, and shopping. There are several hiking trails from easy to difficult, from 200 yards to 4 miles. The Old Spanish Trail is within walking distance, as is the historic Tonopah & Tidewater railroad bed. The Ranch offers interpretive guided nature walks on the history of the area, the wildlife, and plants.
Above: Picture of hummingbirds drinking sugar water. The feeders are placed around a picnic table. This makes for some great views of the very quick hummingbird.
China Ranch is not a resort but there is the Ranch House Inn Bed and Breakfast on the property. The Ranch offers home-grown dates and other California varieties. They have date nut bread, muffins, and cookies but we recommend the date shakes. We got a banana date shake and coconut date shake. Definitely worth the calories before or after your hike. We sat on the bench underneath the hummingbird feeder watching them drink sugar water while we got our sugar fix.
Above: Picture of Jason hiking a chasm around China Ranch.
The Crack Trail is about 4 miles round trip and leads to this wonderful chasm at the end of a wash. We passed another couple that said last time they were hiking this trail the wash was full of water. At the top of the wash you enter a narrow twisting slot canyon eroded into the igneous rhyolite rock. At the end, two boulder strewn vertical dry falls, 10 to 15 feet high, block the path. China Ranch is very close to Death Valley National Park, read our information on RV camping in Death Valley along with backcountry camping and hiking information.
Above: Good sighting to Jason for seeing this huge 15 inch Chuckwalla sunning himself.
Jason's thoughts - If you want to see a real live modern day oasis, this is it. There are locals and interesting folk living in this place in the middle of nowhere. Gorgeous lush vegetation, great easy day hikes, and a flowing stream which sometimes becomes river. Great camping at night because it is so remote.
Kelly's thoughts - What a wonderful day trip. I love discovering places that not too many people know about. I sampled every date they had, yummy! Yes, I bought a bag and wished I had bought more when they were gone.
Travel Info - We wouldn't recommend driving your RV here especially with a tow vehicle. Portions of Tecopa Road and Furnace Creek Road are extremely narrow and winding with rocks
and potholes. The dirt road into China Ranch has portions that are one lane only. China Ranch is located near the southern end of Death Valley National Park, 85 miles west of Las Vegas. From Las Vegas take
Interstate 15 south to Highway 160 (Blue Diamond Highway). Go west toward Pahrump. Turn west on Tecopa Road about 13 miles from Pahrump. Turn left on Furnace Creek Road. Follow the signs to China Ranch.
From the main road you descend before arriving at the oasis. Map location of China
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Travel 85 miles west from Las Vegas to visit China Ranch Tecopa California.
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