Scotty's Castle was not Scotty's home. Albert and Bessie Johnson had the structures at Lower Vine Ranch built partly as a residence for Scotty and partly to lock up water rights near the Castle. Scotty's modest cabin, garage, small blacksmith shed, grain shed, and corrals are seen on this 2-mile round trip ranger-guided hike over uneven surfaces.
Lower Vine Ranch hikes are offered occasional dates from January through April.
Scotty's Castle was very remote when it was built in the 1920s. The Underground Tour focuses on how the Johnsons built a comfortable vacation home in Death Valley. Tours are led by a National Park Service interpreter. The tunnels are concrete-lined and walking-sized. The tour sees the basement, underground tunnels, heating system, original pipes, and the original power generating and storage system. A highlight is a demonstration of electric generation with one of the original Pelton water wheels.
Underground tours are offered daily November through April, and occasionally in May, September and October.
Best tour for first-time visitors. Tours are led by a National Park Service interpreter, dressed in period clothing from 1939. He or she will share stories about the heyday of the Castle in the late 30s, the construction in the 1920s and the curious relationship between a wealthy couple from Chicago (Albert and Bessie Johnson) and the con man (Scotty). The house is fully furnished with the Johnsons' original decorations. Some of their clothing even hangs in the closets! A highlight of the program is listening to the Welte Mignon theater organ.