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  • Zabriskie Point to close for repairs

    Starting December 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015, all access to Zabriskie Point and surrounding area will be closed for major rehabilitation work to repair unstable support walls and improve conditions. CA Hwy 190 will remain open to through traffic.


    Expect high temperatures of 100 to 120 degrees F on your summer visit to Death Valley. Heat related illness is a real possibility. Drink plenty of water and carry extra. Avoid activity in the heat. Travel prepared to survive. Watch for signs of trouble. More »

The Gospel Foundation

Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum

Shadelands Ranch Historical Museum in Walnut Creek, California

Walnut Creek Historical Society

In 1946 Johnson established a socially oriented charity which he named the Gospel Foundation. In 1947, one year after the foundation had been formed, Johnson made provisions in his will to bequeath several properties to the institution. Besides Death Valley Ranch, it would gain control of the Shadelands Ranch and the Hollywood home.

Johnson included one definite provision in the foundations charter: that all the assets be spent or discharged during the foundation president's lifetime. Johnson hoped that this would prevent the foundation from straying into programs foreign to what he envisioned. Through 1991, the institution still awarded a total of $400,000 a year in grants to needy socially oriented causes.

Death Valley Ranch had already been established as a motel and tourist site and the foundation continued to operate it in this manner.

As early as 1933, Horace Albright realized the potential Scotty's Castle might have as an attraction for Death Valley. Although he mentioned it to Johnson in an offhand and jovial fashion when the two first met, it must have seemed somewhat inevitable when it actually happened many years later.

Despite the apparent success of the tours, the foundation wished to divest itself of ownership of the Castle. In 1970, the foundation found an interested buyer in its neighbor - the National Park Service. That same year the foundation also donated Shadelands to the city of Walnut Creek for use as a historic house museum.

The National Park Service purchased the castle and its lands for $850,000. The funds were made available by the Land and Water Conservation Act of 1965. The Act prohibited the use of these monies for purchasing furniture, so the Gospel Foundation donated the furnishings as part of the transaction.

Did You Know?

The Mesquite Dunes in Death Valley National Park

In 1929, no rain was recorded in Death Valley, California. From 1931 through 1934, a 40 month period, only 0.64 inches of rain fell. More...