The spring months of March and April are an ideal time to visit Death Valley


October 18, 1992|By New York Times News Service

Q: I would appreciate information regarding accommodations and restaurants in Death Valley, Calif. When is the best time to go?

A: At the town of Furnace Creek, at about the center of Death Valley, there are two lodgings under the same management. One is the Furnace Creek Inn, a 125-room resort built in the 1930s. Double rooms are $175 to $350 a night through the end of the year, including breakfast and dinner, tea and cocktails. After Jan. 1, rates will be $175 to $275 and no longer include meals. The inn is closed in the summer. The other accommodation is Furnace Creek Ranch, 225 rooms, which is open year-round. A cabin is $70 a night for two people, and a double room is $99. Both places offer swimming pools, tennis, golf and horseback riding. Both are at P.O. Box 1, Death Valley, Calif. 92328; (619) 786-2345.

There are restaurants at both hotels. Furnace Creek Inn has a dining room with lunch costing about $7 to $12 and dinner around $16.95 to $25. Also at Furnace Creek Inn, there is L'Ottimos, an Italian restaurant with dinner $9 to $17. Furnace Creek Ranch has an Italian restaurant, Tino's ($6.95 to $12.95), -- open only in summer, a steak house ($19 to $24), a Mexican restaurant ($6.95 to $15.95), a cafeteria and a coffee shop. Both places have food service at the pool as well. There is also a snack bar at Scotty's Castle, a mansion built in the 1920s.

Stove Pipe Wells Village, Death Valley, Calif. 92328, (619) 786-2387, about 30 minutes' drive from Furnace Creek, has 82 rooms in a motel-like setting. It is open year-round. Double rooms are $34 to $69 a night. There is a coffee shop and a steak house and a small pool.

There is also camping, available October through April, at three campgrounds in the Furnace Creek area, one at Stove Pipe Wells and one at Mesquite Springs. Rates are $4 to $8 a night, depending on location. All are first-come, first-served, except for the Furnace Creek Campground, which can be reserved at (800) 365-2267.

Regarding when to visit: the Furnace Creek Visitor's Center recommends March and the first half of April, when high temperatures are in the 70s or 80s and the lows in the 50s or 60s. After that, it gets hot: The average high is 99 in May and 116 in July; the hottest summer days regularly get above 120. High temperatures stay in the triple figures through September, but hot spells can run later. (Despite the heat, there has been an increase in summer visitors, the visitor's center reports.) Winter highs are in the 50s and 60s and lows in the upper 30s or high 40s.

nformation: Furnace Creek Visitor's Center, P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, Calif. 92328; (619) 786-2331.

Q: How does one get tickets to the Italian Tennis Open in Rome?

A: The Italian Open will take place May 1-16, 1993; after qualifying rounds, the women's tournament takes place May 3-9 and the men's May 10-17. Information: Federazione Italiana Tennis, 31 Via dei Gladiatori, 00194, Rome, Italy; call (39 6) 321 9850; fax: (39 6) 361 4258. Reservations may be made only for the entire competition. Prices have not been set. The 1992 prices ranged from $255 to $862 a person; a box for six people was $5,000. To order, send a letter or fax, attention Franco Bartoni, asking for the program and prices.

To get single-day tickets, available only a few days before the date, one must go in person to the box office at Via dei Gladiatori. Last year, center-court day tickets were about $8 to $32, depending on the stage of the tournament. Center-court daily tickets were $12.50 to $44. Tickets good for areas other than center court were $7. There should be little problem getting a seat in the early rounds. For the late rounds, there are reportedly ticket scalpers outside the stadium.

Q: I would appreciate a list of companies that arrange biking trips in the Loire Valley.

A: Here are some: The prices, based on two people sharing a room, include accommodations, usually in small hotels or chateaus along the route, and unless noted otherwise, use of a bicycle; air fare is not included.

* Butterfield & Robinson, 70 Bond St., Suite 300, Toronto M5B 1X3, Ontario, Canada; (800) 678-1147 or, in Canada, (800) 268-8415. An eight-day trip, starting in Tours and ending in Angers, is $2,885. A five-day trip along the Loire and the nearby Cher River that starts and ends in Tours is $1,790. Both tours include breakfasts and all but one dinner. "Private Chateaus of the Loire" tours, for groups of no more than eight, include stays in smaller chateaus. Prices, based on eight participants, are $1,395 for five days and $1,985 for eight days and include breakfasts and only one dinner.

* Travent, P.O. Box 305, Waterbury Center, Vt. 05677; (800) 325-3009. Six-day trips, June through September, start at Noizay Vouvray and finish at Montbazon. Prices for 1993 are not set; last year they were $1,825, including breakfasts and dinners.

* Backroads, 1516 Fifth St., Berkeley, Calif. 94710; (800) 245-3874. Nine-day trips starting at Chinon and ending at Onzain are $2,798; bike rental is $149. Five-day tours, Montbazon to Onzain, are $1,595; rental is $129. Trips are offered June, July and August, and prices include all breakfasts and dinners and two lunches.

* Country Cycling and Hiking, 140 W. 83rd St., New York, N.Y. 10024; (800) 284-8954 or (212) 874-5151. Eight-day trips take place in July, August and September, starting in Orleans and ending near Saumur. The price for 1993 should be around $1,850, and includes breakfasts and all but one dinner.

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