Laist: Ten of the Spookiest Day Trips

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  The Amargosa Hotel ( Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr )

The Amargosa Hotel (Quinn Dombrowski/Flickr)

The Amargosa Opera House

The Amargosa Opera House dates back to the 1920s, when it was built at the behest of the Pacific Coast Borax Company as part of their company town. The campus included the theater, several corporate buildings, a restaurant, and a hotel. As is the fate of many company towns that bloom then wilt, the small town and its buildings had fallen out of favor and into disrepair by the 40s.

In 1967, dancer Marta Becket purchased the property and began rehabbing the buildings. She covered the grounds in colorful murals and performed on its long-neglected stage. The idea of such a thing existing in such a remote area made it a curiosity worth the trek, and an award-winning documentary about Becket's work titled Amargosa was released in 2000. Becket continued to perform until 2012. She passed away in early 2017 at 92.

Today, visitors may book a room at the adobe-style hotel, enjoy a performance via Becket's protege Hilda Vasquez, or dine at the adjacent cafe. The hotel is rumored to be haunted, and has been featured on various "ghost hunter" shows and in David Lynch's Lost Highway. On a sweltering summer day when I happened to stop by, a long-time employee ambiguously talked about seeing and hearing things around the property. The supposed ghosts include a crying child who is believed to have drowned in Room 24's bathtub, and a murdered mining boss who haunts Room 32. Paranormal activity in Room 9 includes unexplained noises, while a friendly ghost cat is suspected to have free reign of the grounds. Perhaps a significant portion of the ghost appeal is the rustic nature of the property, the desolation of its location, and its fascinating history.

The Amargosa Opera House and Hotel is located at 608 Death Valley Junction in Death Valley.
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