Creepy Tiki: Abandoned Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel

The closed and abandoned Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel was a welcome oasis for overheated travelers passing through the Gateway to Death Valley in Baker, CA.

Hold the Pineapple

Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel opened in 1957, at the height of the post-war South Seas boom. The motel is located in the tiny town of Baker (pop. 835), conveniently close to the intersection of I-15 and State Route 127 (Death Valley Road).

Reasonable Bates er, Rates

At roughly the halfway point between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the 43-room motel hoped to lure road-going travelers in need of an overnight sleep stop. As well, tourists visiting infamously hot & dry Death Valley just to the north no doubt appreciated a dip in the motel’s refreshingly cool, guests-only, outdoor swimming pool.

Baking In Baker

Baker wasn’t just a well-placed rest stop, however. The so-called “Gateway to Death Valley” also boasted The World’s Tallest Thermometer. Standing 134 feet tall, the electrically-powered monument commemorates the world’s record highest temperature of 134°F (56.7°C), recorded at nearby Furnace Creek on July 10th, 1913.

Uncool Cooler

On the downside, Baker is also home to a shuttered, 223-bed, for-profit prison formerly operated by Cornell Corrections. The prison’s checkered history includes occasional escapes by inmates (twice in 1995 and another two in 1997) and a major riot in December of 2003 that forced a temporary closure. The leaky slammer closed for good in late 2009, allowing nervous Bakerites (and motel room-renters) to breathe a bit easier.