Remodeled visitor center to open in Death Valley National Park

Visitors to Death Valley National Park now have a cool new place to escape the heat.

The national park 100 miles west of Las Vegas is opening the doors Thursday to its remodeled visitor center at Furnace Creek, Calif.

The 52-year-old building has been retrofitted with solar panels and other energy efficient features that are expected to save the park $14,000 a year.

Much of the exterior of the building was left untouched to preserve its history, though the old sign outside was changed from "museum" to "visitor center" and an ornamental pool on the grounds now holds glass tiles instead of water.

The work inside the visitor center is ongoing.

The remodel was expected to take 18 months, but the building was finished several months early, before many of the new interactive exhibits were done. A new park film narrated by actor Donald Sutherland will make its debut today, but other exhibits will not be completed until early summer.

Park officials plan to hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony later this year, once all the new exhibits are in place.

The visitor center is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The original building was built in 1960 as part of a nationwide upgrade done as part of the National Park Service's 50th anniversary in 1966.

Contact reporter Henry Brean at or 702-383-0350.