An oasis hidden in a desert valley, the China Ranch Date Farm, is definitely off the beaten path and is worth a side trip on your next journey across the Mojave Desert.
As you wander down into this little palm-lined haven situated somewhere between Death Valley and the Dumont Dunes, you will discover a gorgeous little river valley with some interesting geological formations and lots of hiking trails strewn throughout the area.
Nestled amongst a small group of homes, is this working farm along with a tiny little date shop, about half the size of a Starbucks, as well as a cool, clever little place aptly named the “Modest Museum”, which is more or less a shed depicting the history of the ranch.
It includes exhibits and artifacts from early Indian sites and archeological digs, the pioneer families that were in the area in the early 1900s, and the mysterious Chinese man who is thought to first have settled the Mojave Desert Canyon.
Inside the shop is a variety of local goods specially made for or by China Ranch. Of course, you have your typical date-related items; cookies, muffins, date balls, and the ever-important date shake.
Inside the store is a small fridge with Ziploc bags stuffed with fresh dates, and tags indicating the variety simply stapled on. The small scale of packaging makes this experience even more intriguing.
Not sure what to choose? Not a problem as visitors can sample their way through the dates, getting a sense of freshness and quality that China Ranch is bringing to the table.
Every single date here is a winner, and there is a date for every taste. The hands-down favorite is the purple label “Hybrid” variety. These dates are jet black, almost looking like elongated black olives.
They are extremely meaty with a creamy, rich, smooth texture, just like butter. October through April are the best months to visit the ranch if you want to take a few hiking trails, as summer temperatures can soar well above the century mark.
Hiking China Ranch Date Farm
The Crack Trail provides a modest hike and the reward is a captivating view of a small waterfall on the Amargosa River as it flows south through the eastern edge of China Ranch.
A trail guide is available at the gift shop for .50 cents. Destinations include old mines, slot canyons or even mountain trails if you drive up into the Kingston Range.
Nearby in the town of Tecopa, visitors can immerse themselves in the desert mystique of the Amargosa Valley, the gateway to Death Valley National Park.
Finally, a tour of Death Valley National park will highlight your visit to Southeast Inyo County. China Ranch is located near the southern end of Death Valley National Park.
Getting to China Ranch Date Farm
The ranch is about 50 miles north of Interstate 15. 85 miles west of Las Vegas, Nevada, off Highway 127. Open every day. 760-852-4415 www.chinaranch.com
China Ranch Date Farm address #8 China Ranch Road, Tecopa Ca 92389. Most car nav systems will be able to direct you to the ranch. The last few miles of China Ranch road are not paved but can easily be made by all but the lowest of cars. There are several old mines adjacent to the road in the lower canyon. They are fenced off for good reason. Enjoy the dates, stay out of the mines.