Often referred to as the “Gateway to Death Valley,” Beatty is the perfect place to hang your hat and restock on some vital supplies before entering this fascinating National Park, or exploring some interesting southern Nevada landscape. That, or spend the day exploring fascinating pockets of Nevada's past in town, or dive into some impressive ghost towns, just on the outskirts of Beatty.
Beatty, Nevada: The Gateway to Death Valley
Located just over 100 miles northeast of Las Vegas—a go-to stop along the Death Valley Rally and Free-Range Art Highway road trips—the town of Beatty Nevada is perfectly situated to be an official gateway to Death Valley National Park. Many visitors initially choose Beatty to be a short 20-minute drive to the park’s Hell’s Gate, but soon discover the amazing mining history preserved at the ghost town of Rhyolite, unusual art at Goldwell Open Air Museum, and a town full of great food and fun.
The town of Beatty was founded in the early 1900s by Montillus Beatty—remembered as “Old Man Beatty—who also served as its first postmaster. Beatty quickly became an important supply center for the nearby town of Rhyolite and the burgeoning Bullfrog Mining District. Railroads reached Beatty in 1906, spurring additional growth. As is common with Nevada boomtowns, the gold went bust in just a few short years, setting Rhyolite up to dwindle into Nevada ghost town status.
Beatty, located along the main north-south route that would become US-95, hung on, with a stint as the go-to HQ for scientists and workers bound for secret projects at the Nevada Test Site, and ultimately cemented its place as a basecamp for travelers headed to nearby Death Valley National Park. Dive deeper into Beatty’s past at the Beatty Museum & Historical Society, which retains an amazing collection of historical photos, books, and documents that immerse visitors in the region’s rich mining and Wild Western history.
Things To Do in Beatty, NV
Many travelers on State Route 374 are headed to Death Valley National Park, the hottest, driest, and lowest place in North America. Park visitors can explore famous features like Badwater Basin, the Mesquite Sand Dunes, and more by day—and then return to civilization for a comfy night in a Beatty motel to rest up for the next day’s adventure.
However, those who carve out some time to explore Beatty itself are rewarded by the glimpses of the past found at the ghost town of Rhyolite, one of the best preserved (and most photographed) ghost towns in the West—thanks to crumbling ruins, the fully intact railroad depot, and the historic Tom Kelly bottle house, which was made from more than 50,000 whiskey, medicine, and beer bottles (as there weren’t many trees out this way back then). If Rhyolite looks familiar, that’s because you’ve certainly seen it in movies, TV shows, and countless commercials.
At the edge of Rhyolite is another trip-making attraction: the awesomely eccentric Goldwell Open Air Museum, where you can wander among a ghostly life-sized Last Supper, a 24-foot- tall miner (and his trusty penguin), a towering cinder block lady, and other avant garde art at one of Earth’s most unique galleries, originally founded by Belgian artists in the 1980s.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
While you’re in town, keep your eyes peeled for some anachronistic characters who, at second glance, actually fit right in with Beatty’s Wild West vibes. We’re talking about the Beatty Cowboys, Floozies, and Petticoats, a group of local living historians who preserve Beatty’s 19th-century personality with historical reenactments, or simply by sidling up to the barstool next to you in full Old West garb.
Beatty, NV Hotels
Beatty NV lodging options include a handful of small motels and a couple of nearby Uncommon Overnighters, to boot. Go retro at the “alien-friendly” Atomic Inn, where Area 51 scientists used to board. The Stagecoach Hotel & Casino offers family-friendly accommodations, conveniently across the parking lot from one of the largest candy stores in the country, Death Valley Nut & Candy Co.
The Death Valley Inn & RV Park offers all the modern conveniences, plus 39 pull-through RV spaces with 50-amp hookups. Other affordable and cozy options include the 1906-bult, pet-friendly Exchange Club Motel, the poolside El Portal Motel, and the also pet-friendly Motel 6.
Travel Nevada Pro Tip
Beatty, NV Restaurants
Forget about chains. Beatty is full of classic mom-and-pop eateries that, while all different, have one thing in common: the goal to fill your belly. Most famous is easily Happy Burro Chili & Beer, a perfect example of truth in advertising, which serves up some of the best chili and coldest mugs of beers in the West. Gema’s Café serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare with a Hispanic twist (the carne asada is a local favorite), or venture into Mel’s Diner (recently voted “Best Dive in Nevada”) for their famous chicken fried steak. Sink your teeth into beef brisket, pulled pork, or even a prime rib sandwich at Smokin’ J’s Barbecue, and top off your sweet tooth with a visit to Death Valley Nut & Candy Co.
Events in Beatty
Gathering-wise, the most eagerly anticipated annual event in Beatty NV is the Beatty Days Festival. For three days each October, the entire town gets down on great chili, live music, bike and car shows, historical reenactments and gunfights by the Beatty Cowboys, and some of Nevada’s more interesting competitions, including Root Beer Belching, Chicken “Drop” Bingo, the Pickle Liquor Hoot-N-Holler (drink pickle juice and hot sauce… then yell), and Beatty’s infamous Bed Races.