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Halloween 2016 in Death Valley

Family-nice activities are ahead at the Furnace Creek Ranch.

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    Family-nice activities are ahead at the Furnace Creek Ranch from Oct. 28 through 30. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

    YOU DON'T NEED TO VISIT... a town named after one of Santa's reindeer or a type of holiday cookie to have an excellent Christmas, and landing in Lovetropolis, USA on February 14 isn't necessarily going to send your Valentine's Day into the couple-cute stratosphere. The truth of it: Alighting in a place that happens to have a name that happens to in some way correspond with the date or occasion isn't a guarantee that all the good things of a holiday will be in the bag. But what if that place not only had the interesting, relates-to-the-holiday name and offered up oodles of atmosphere that only enhanced your experience of the holiday? Look to the edge of California, the one near Nevada, and...

    DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, a massive expanse which may have the most interesting (and most macabre) name of any park or monument. It seems a natural place to gravitate to come Halloween and Day of the Dead, save for the fact that it is fairly empty, without rows and rows of neighborhood streets offering trick-or-treat opportunities. But what Death Valley does have is its sublime lunar beauty, and lots of it, and the long shadows of late October only add a spooky ripple to the spirit of the season. A spirit that will be observed at...

    FURNACE CREEK RANCH... from Friday, Oct. 28 through Sunday, Oct. 30. There shall be the carving of pumpkins, there shall be a costume to-do for the grown-ups, and trick-or-treating? Well, hold onto your costume hat: The traditional event will take place in Death Valley (at the ranch, which will put a different spin on the door-to-door pursuit of treats). And as things wrap the day before Halloween, you can still get back home in time for the big night. If you meet up with neighbors on the street, will you brag to them how you spent the weekend before Halloween soaking in the phantom-y fabulousness of Death Valley National Park? The name absolutely evokes the holiday, but so does its beautiful emptiness, its fascinating, mysterious rocks and dry lake beds, and its otherworldly vistas.