More than 1,000 date trees populate the China Ranch date grove, and they were planted in the 1920s by the daughter of a Death Valley pioneer. The farm is still a working family operation that sells dates and date products to the public. But this place is so much more than a roadside fruit stand.
This area has been home to human beings at least since the Shoshone and Ute people first started spending the cooler months near the prolific hot springs of the area around 1,000 A.D. At the intersection of the Spanish ranchos, 19th-century mining exploration, and railroad development, this remote corner of California has a lively history. The name comes from the story that is told of the Chinese mine worker who settled in this oasis in the late 1800s, built the irrigation system, and was illegally chased off the property by a man named Morrison. The China Ranch has opened a tiny museum to showcase a few of the artifacts and photographs that bring that unique history to life.
The main facility is a small store where visitors can purchase dates and date products and relax around picnic tables. They encourage people to hike around the property, including the huge date grove and the adjoining creek area. The ranch property is a gateway to huge BLM land tracts that include the Amargosa River, historic parts of the Old Spanish Trail and abandoned mine sites. There are several trails that could occupy an afternoon of exploration.
There is no admission charge to visit the farm and park to hike the local trails. The farm's date shakes are marvelous, and the fresh dates, of many varieties never seen in supermarkets, are inexpensive and excellent.