Shoshone Education & Research Center—SHEAR

We are a non-profit organization dedicated to facilitating field trips and research visits to the Death Valley region. We offer inexpensive lodging for students and faculty in the village of Shoshone, California, between Death Valley National Park and Las Vegas. SHEAR is primarily used by geology groups, but it is open to all.

June 2019

A brief history of SHEAR

In the early 1990’s, Susan Sorrells of Shoshone Development, Inc., generously agreed to let Terry Pavlis and Laura Serpa use some unoccupied buildings in Shoshone as a field station. The buildings formerly housed the labs of Pfizer, Inc., which was exploiting industrial talc deposits in the region. In 1999 Terry, Laura, Marli Miller, and Darrel Cowan along with Susan Sorrells formed a California non-profit corporation with the title "Shoshone Education and Research Center" or "SHEAR center" with the primary objective of providing low-cost housing for educational groups and researchers traveling to the Death Valley area. In 2000 SHEAR was recognized as non-profit, 501(c)(3) charitable organization. Susan leased the buildings to SHEAR at no cost. Since the early 1990’s, our group, with the generous help of many others, has continually made improvements and expanded the capacity. The present board of directors consists of Darrel Cowan (President), Marli Miller (Vice-president), Terry Pavlis (Secy/Treas), Laura Serpa, Susan Sorrells, Monica Argandona, and John Caskey.

SHEAR is located on the east side of CA 127 & 178, across the highway from the Shoshone Inn motel.

The facilities include the main buildings, 2 bunkhouses, and 1 permanent trailer. The facilities can comfortably accommodate groups as large as 22 students, plus faculty and teaching assistants.

One wing of the main buildings [see map] has a large kitchen and common area for meals, meetings, socializing, and study. The kitchen is fully equipped with two ranges, a refrigerator, microwave, cookware, coffee makers, dishes, and tableware. The other wing has a shower and two guestrooms with bunk beds; one of the rooms can accommodate six people, the other four. The Lauren Wright trailer, which is available in some instances, has a large bedroom and full bath, a small bedroom and half bath, a hide-a-bed sofa, and a small kitchen.

Each bunkhouse has a shower and can accommodate 6 people. All bunk beds have mattresses or foam pads. Each person needs to bring a sleeping bag. The bathroom in the north bunkhouse has been completely renovated and now features a new shower and other facilities. You can also set up tents in the back yard east of the main buildings.

Tap water in Shoshone, supplied by a reverse-osmosis plant, is excellent.

Fast wi-fi is available throughout SHEAR. We will provide the password before a group arrives. A land-line phone [760-852-4401] can receive calls and accept outgoing calls to 911.

Institutions & organizations that have recently used SHEAR

Augustana College

Bates College

California State University Bakersfield


California State University Long Beach

California Wilderness Coalition

College of St. Rose

Colorado College

McGill University

Mt. San Antonio College, Pomona, CA

North Carolina State University

Ohio University

Orange Coast College

Pasadena City College

Salisbury University

Slippery Rock State University, PA

Sonoma State University

South Dakota School of Mines

Stanford University

SUNY Oneonta

Tulane University

University of California Berkeley

University of California Riverside

University of California Santa Cruz

University of London Royal Holloway

University of Memphis

University of Minnesota Twin Cities

University of Oregon

University of Ottawa

University of St. Thomas

University of South Florida

University of Texas Austin

University of Texas El Paso

University of Washington

University of Western Kentucky

University of Wisconsin River Falls

Western Washington University

Wheaton College

Rates in 2019

Rates as of January 2019 are $12.50 per person per night for a maximum of $125/night for main buildings and bunkhouses. The trailer is $50/night and is reserved for faculty or graduate-student researchers only. Please be aware that renters also need to pay a 12% Inyo County occupancy tax. In addition, we ask that each person using the facilities read and sign a release and assumption of risk form, which we will e-mail to reserved groups before arrival.


To reserve SHEAR, please contact Darrel Cowan in the Department of Earth & Space Sciences, University of Washington:

Please indicate your organization, the requested dates, and the number of students, faculty, and TA's. If you are a graduate student or individual researcher, please provide the same information. We will contact you regarding availability and provide more information about the facility and billing before your arrival.

We recommend making reservations several months in advance of the busiest months: November through April.