There are many hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties, but most backcountry areas are accessible only by crosscountry hiking. There are literally thousands of hiking possibilities.
In temperatures over 90 F, hiking can be especially hazardous. During hot spring, summer or fall months replace the water your body loses through perspiration. Drink a minimum of 1 gallon (4 liters) of water per day - twice that is even better. Always carry plenty of drinking water especially while hiking.one gallon of water per person per day is the minimum you should carry. Many of the springs in Death Valley are either dry or have been contaminated by burros, so do not rely on them. Do not camp in drainages or washes. Camp at least two miles from a maintained road and 200 yards from water sources.
Watch for the warning signs of dehydration. If you feel dizzy, nauseous or develop a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink plenty of water. Dampening your clothing will help lower your body temperature.
Do dress appropriately for the outdoor activities in the desert. A shirt, sunglasses, sunscreen and a broad-rimmed hat are necessities.
Don't hike in the salt flats or anywhere below sea level when temperatures are hot. There is no shade and the reflected sunlight is intense. Instead go to the cooler, higher elevations of the park to hike in the summer.
Do pay attention to the weather. Storms and flash floods are possible year round. Avoid canyons during rain storms and be prepared to move to higher ground.
Don't enter mine shafts or tunnels. Besides the obvious danger of caving in or falling, some mines contain pockets of bad air and poisonous gas.
Do avoid tramping vegetation, soil crusts and animal burrows when hiking cross country.
Don't place your hands or feet where you cannot see them. Poisonous creatures such as rattlesnakes and scorpions may be sheltered there. Although most will avoid humans if they can, humans should avoid them.
Be sure to let a family member or friend know where you are going and your estimated time of return. Your contact will BE RESPONSIBLE for initiating a search if you do not return on time. To assist rangers in case a search is necessary, you can provide more detailed information on a Backcountry Hiker Form.
Please remember that collecting rocks or plants or disturbing any historical or archeological site is not allowed.
Only Telescope Peak & Wildrose Peak have maintained hiking trails. These are the only hikes recommended in summer due to the extreme heat at lower elevations. The rest of the suggested overnight hikes are cross-country routes. Mileages can be deceiving, so allow plenty of time for these trips. Purchase topographic maps at the Visitor Center.
|Natural Bridge Canyon||1.0 mile
|Natural Bridge parking area, Badwater Road||Moderate uphill walk through narrow canyon. Large natural bridge at 0.3 mi. Trail ends at dry waterfall.|
|Desolation Canyon||1.0 mile
|End of left fork Desolation
Canyon Road (not marked,
look closely for it), 3.7 miles
south of Hwy 190
on Badwater road
|Narrow canyon through colorful badlands. From road's end, drop into main wash heading south. Hike up canyon, keeping to right at the forks|
|Golden Canyon Interpretive||1.0 mile
|Golden Canyon parking area, Badwater Road||Easy, self-guided trail through colorful canyon. Red Cathedral located 0.5 mile up canyon from last numbered trail marker. Trail guides are available for 50 cents on site or at park visitor centers|
|Gower Gulch Loop||4.0 miles
|Golden Canyon parking area, Badwater Road||Moderate hike. Colorful badlands, canyon narrows, old borax mines. Hike up Golden Canyon to last numbered trail marker, then take path over badlands to Gower Gulch. Hike up to Zabriskie Point or down gulch to finish loop. Two easy dryfalls must be scrambled down in Gower Gulch. Ask for the Gower Gulch handout in Visitor Center|
|Salt Creek Interpretive||0.5 mile
|Salt Creek parking area, 1 mile
off Hwy 190, 13.5 miles north of
|Easy, self guided trail on a boardwalk over small stream. Good for viewing rare pupfish and other wildlife. Best in late winter/early spring. Trail guides available on site or at park visitor centers for 50 cents|
|Keane Wonder Mine||1.0 mile
|Keane Wonder Mill parking area, 2 miles off Beatty Cutoff road||Very steep, narrow trail from mill ruins to mine 1500 ft. above. Sweeping views of Death Valley. Do not enter any mines - they are unstable and hazardous. Do not remove any historical artifacts|
|Keane Wonder Springs||1.0 mile
|Keane Wonder Mill parking area, 2 miles off Beatty Cutoff road||Description: Follow pipeline north along mountain base to sulfur springs and travertine mounds. Beyond springs are remains of an old stampmill and cabin. Do not remove any historical artifacts||Sand Dunes||2.0 miles
|Sand Dunes parking area, 2.2 miles east of Stovepipe Wells, Hwy 190||Graceful desert dunes, numerous animal tracks. Walk cross-country to 120 ft. high dunes. Best in morning or afternoon for dramatic light. Also good for full moon hikes|
|Mosaic Canyon||2 miles
|Mosaic Canyon parking area, 2 miles from Stovepipe Wells||Popular, easy walk up narrow, polished marble-walled canyon. Some slickrock scrambling necessary. "Mosaics" of fragments of rocks cemented together can be seen in canyon walls. Bighorn sheep sighted occasionally|
|Titus Canyon Narrows||1.5 miles
|Titus Canyon Mouth parking area, 3 miles off Scotty's Castle road on graded dirt road||Easy access to lower Titus Canyon road. Follow gravel road up wash 1.5 mi. through narrows or continue to Klare Springs and petroglyphs at 6.5 miles. No camping allowed|
|Little Hebe Crater||0.5 mile
|Ubehebe Crater parking area, 8 miles west of Scotty's Castle||Volcanic craters and elaborate erosion. Hike along west rim of Ubehebe Crater to Little Hebe and several older craters. Continue around Ubehebe's rim for loop hike|
|Ubehebe Peak Trail||3.0 miles
|Grandstand parking area, Racetrack Road (high clearance, 2WD or 4WD at times)||Peak forming west rim of Racetrack Valley in the Last Chance Range. Steep, narrow switchback trail with a 1800 ft. elevation gain. No trail exists for the last 0.4 mile to summit, so route-finding ability is necessary. Spectacular views of Racetrack and Saline Valleys|
|Coffin Peak||1.2 mile
|Dante's View road, 0.5 mile before you reach the viewpoint itself. Park at the pullout with pit toilets
and picnic table
|Short, cross-country hike. Walk over small hill NE paralleling the road. Proceed SE on ridge, over two rocky hills, then descend NE to a saddle before climbing one more hill. Once over this hill, you can see the cone-shaped summit of Coffin Peak. Follow ridge line to east side of peak where a faint trail takes you to the summit. Spectacular views of Death Valley, Greenwater Valley and the Black Mountains. No trail|
|Death Valley Buttes||1.8 mile
|Hell's Gate parking area, 22 miles NE of Furnace Creek||Short but strenuous scramble to the two prominent hills at the foot of the Grapevine Mountains. From Hell's Gate, walk SW 0.5 mile toward the buttes. Scramble south up the ridge to the first of the buttes. You made it! Now you can decide whether you want to attempt #2. It's more difficult. If so, descend carefully down the ridge 300 ft., then climb the narrow ridge to butte #2. Extreme care should be used when climbing the buttes. Ridges are narrow and exposed with steep drop-offs. Windy days make this effect quite dramatic. The views are among the best in Death Valley. No trail|
|Corkscrew Peak||4.0 miles
|1.0 mile east of Hell's Gate at Corkscrew Peak sign, Daylight Pass Road||So you think you're going to make it to the top...we'll see. A peak composed of very folded rocks at the south end of the Grapevine Mountains. Strenuous, cross-country hike from road with a 3,000 ft. elevation gain. DO NOT head straight for the peak. Hike toward the right or east side, making your way up toward the peak and finally scaling peak by a narrow path on east side. Steep with unstable rocks. Topo maps are advised. Watch for a faint trail with some rock cairns. Good luck. No trail|
|Fall Canyon||3.5 miles
|Titus Canyon Mouth parking area, 3 miles off Scotty's Castle road||Deep and spectacular canyon north of Titus Canyon. Walk 0.5 mile north along base of mountains to large wash, then 2.5 mi. up canyon to a 35 ft. dryfall. Using caution, you can climb around the falls on the south side. This will give you access to some of the most beautiful narrows in Death Valley. You can follow the canyon up another 4 or 5 miles|
|Red Wall Canyon||3 miles
|Scotty's Castle Road, 3.8 miles north of Titus Canyon road exit||Colorful (red) narrow mountain canyon. From road, hike 2 miles up alluvial fan to mouth of canyon (watch for meeting of red and black rock to locate canyon). Rock climbing skills are needed to continue beyond a dry waterfall 1 mile up the canyon. No trail|
|Little Bridge Canyon||3.0 miles
|3 miles east of Stovepipe Wells Village, Hwy 190. Park along side of road, (first major canyon east of Grotto Canyon)||Ascend alluvial fan 2 miles south of road to canyon mouth. The canyon is very wide at first before narrowing. A small arch appears on the right 1/2 mile into the canyon and a 20 ft high natural bridge spans the east side of the canyon 1/2 mile further on. White quartzite canyon walls and interesting side canyons to explore. Canyon narrows further up from bridge. No trail|
Check with a park ranger at the visitor center or at a ranger station to fill out a voluntary backcountry Camping permit before departing on the following trips. Solo hikers may also fill out a Solo Hiker Form if they wish to arrange a safety check-in. At the very least, let someone know where you are going and your estimated time of return.
In temperatures over 90 hiking can be especially hazardous. During hot spring, summer or fall months one gallon of water per person per day is the minimum you should carry. Many of the springs in Death Valley are either dry or have been contaminated by burros, so do not rely on them.
Only Telescope and Wildrose Peaks have maintained hiking trails. These are the only hikes recommended in summer due to the extreme heat at lower elevations. The rest of the suggested overnight hikes are cross-country routes. Mileages can be deceiving, so allow plenty of time for these trips. Purchase topographic maps at the visitor center.
|Indian Pass||8.0 miles one way||Moderately strenuous with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet||Start 6.5 miles north of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (near mile marker 104). Follow the wash bearing left (north) staying in the drainage nearest the ridge and heading for the low pass in the mountains. Climbing to the top of the pass is difficult and extremely steep. Springs and bighorn sheep may be seen in the four mile stretch of canyon|
|Hungry Bill's Ranch||1.5 miles to 4.5 miles||Moderately strenuous with an elevation gain of 1,100 feet||From West Side Road drive 10.5 miles up Johnson Canyon (4x4 high clearance) to road's end. Hike 1.5 miles following the creek drainage to the old ranch site. The old trail is washed out in places and may be difficult to follow. Ruins and an old orchard. It is possible to continue another 3 miles (no trail) and 3,000 feet to Panamint Pass for spectacular views|
|Cottonwood to Marble Canyon Loop||26 mile loop||Strenuous with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet||Begin this 26 mile loop at the end of the Cottonwood Canyon road, 4x4 high clearance. Follow the Cottonwood drainage up for six miles then hike northeast, crossing Deadhorse Canyon and bearing northwest into Marble Canyon. No trail past upper Cottonwood Spring. Follow Marble Canyon down for 8.5 miles to the junction with Cottonwood Canyon, and then up another 8.5 miles to your starting point. Narrow canyons, bighorn sheep, and wilderness backcountry. Flash flood danger|
|Daylight Pass to Titus Canyon Road||4.5 miles||Moderately strenuous with an elevation change of 400 feet||Hike northwest from Daylight Pass 4.5 miles to Titus Canyon road. Two desert springs along route. Route finding may be difficult so a detailed map is advised|
|Titanothere Canyon||12.0 to 16.5 miles||Moderately strenuous with an elevation change of 4,700 feet||Start 11 miles down the Titus Canyon Road. There are 2 forks of this wide canyon, just make sure you park so that you are not blocking the road. Hike down the wash 12 miles to the Scotty's Castle Road. There are springs, fascinating geologic formations and spectacular views of Death Valley. It helps if you have a 2 car shuttle system so you can walk down the canyon. If not, an option is to walk 4.5 miles to Lost Man Spring and return the same way|
|Fall Canyon||6.5 to 7.5 miles||Moderate with an elevation gain of 1,400 feet||Start at Titus Canyon parking lot (west side of canyon). Walk 0.5 mile north to a large wash. Wash leads into canyon with high, narrow walls, similar to Titus. Two and a half miles in, you dead end at a dry waterfall which requires climbing skills to pass on the south side. Beyond this point the way is open for another four or five miles. Narrow canyons and bighorn sheep|
|Bighorn Gorge||13.0 miles||Strenuous with an elevation change of 5,000 feet||From White Top Mountain it is 8 miles to Mesquite Springs Campground with 5 miles of it through the gorge. There is an eighty-foot dry fall in Bighorn Gorge, so scrambling around it on the north side of the fall is required. Bighorn sheep and remote wilderness|
|Jayhawker Canyon||5.0 miles one way||Moderate with an elevation gain of 2,600 feet||Start at 3,000 feet elevation sign on Highway 190, 2.3 miles past Emigrant Junction. Walk the 1850 route of '49er pioneers. Some of them signed their names on a large boulder two miles in. Five miles one way, gentle grade to base of Pinto Peak|
|Virgin Springs Canyon||9.0 miles one way||Moderate with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet||Start one half mile west of Jubilee Pass. Drive or walk one mile up a 4 x 4 road. From here it is a 3 mile walk to a large stone structure, which is old miners' housing. Springs may be dry. Follow the old road into Greenwater Valley for the longer hike. Approximately 9 miles one way|
|Hanaupah Canyon||5.0 miles possible||Moderately strenuous with an elevation gain of 2,200 feet||From West Side Road drive 5 miles up Hanaupah Canyon (high clearance) and park before road drops into wash. From here the road becomes 4 WD and continues another 4.5 miles up the south fork. Walk or drive up the road 1.5 miles to where the canyon splits. From here one can hike at least 3 miles up the middle fork, or continue up the south fork another 3 miles to road's end and another 1.5 miles (climbs steeply) on closed roads. Springs, forests, and mountain views|
|Wildrose Peak||4.2 miles||Moderately strenuous with an elevation gain of 2,000 feet||Begin hike on trail at north end of Charcoal Kilns parking area. Mileage from the kilns to the top of Wildrose Peak is 4.2 miles. Good alternative when Telescope Peak trail is snow covered. Spectacular views|
|Telescope Peak||7.0 miles to 8.5miles||Strenuous with an elevation gain of 3,000 feet||Trail starts at Mahogany Flat Campground; mileage one way is 7 miles. If your vehicle clearance is low, park at Charcoal Kilns, adding 1.5 miles to one-way distance. Grade is steep for last mile of ascent; ice axes and crampons are often necessary in winter. Spectacular views of Death Valley and the High Sierra. Plan 6 to 9 hours for a round trip hike|
Wildrose Peak at 9,064 feet is well worth visiting especially if your time is limited or when winter storms prevent hiking the Telescope Peak trail. The trail goes through a pinyon pine and juniper forest with spectacular views available beyond the two mile point. Backcountry camping is allowed two miles past the trailhead.
Length: 4.2 miles, one-way.
Starting Point: Charcoal Kilns parking area, upper Wildrose Canyon Road.
Description: A good high peak to climb (9,064 ft.). Trail begins at north end of kilns with an elevation gain of 2,200 ft. Spectacular views beyond 2 mile point. Steep grade for last mile.
Telescope Peak at 11,049 feet is the highest point in Death Valley National Park. The elevation gain from the valley floor to the summit is over 11,300 feet. This extreme elevation change is exceeded in the United States by Mt. Rainier at 11,600 feet, Mt. Fairweather in Glacier Bay National Park at 15,300 feet, and Mt. McKinley's north slope at 17,000 feet.
Length: 7 miles, one-way
Starting Point: Mahogany Flat Campground, upper Wildrose Canyon Road. Rough, steep road after Charcoal Kilns.
Description: Strenuous trail to highest peak in the park (11,049 ft.) with a 3,000 ft. elevation gain. Ancient bristlecone pines appear just above the 10,000 ft. level. The summit rewards you with spectacular views ranging from Badwater, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere to the east, to Mt. Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 United States to the west. Climbing this peak in the winter requires ice axe and crampons, and is only advised for experienced climbers. Telescope Peak is usually snow-free by June. Don't forget that the high altitude may slow you down. The trail will pass through pinyon and limber pine forests, with ancient bristlecone pines predominating near the summit. Backcountry camping is allowed two miles beyond the end of the road. Please fill out a voluntary Backcountry Camping Permit at the visitor center or any ranger station. This trail is usually snow-free from early May until mid-November and during this time may be hiked by anyone in reasonably good condition. Hiking boots are recommended.
Snow and ice usually make this trail too hazardous for all but well-equipped climbers during the winter months from mid-November until mid-April. For safety it may be necessary to avoid the beginning of the trail and stay along the ridges. Climbers should be experienced and equipped with ice axes, crampons, winter clothing, boots, ropes and be prepared for sub-freezing weather. Winter climbers are asked for their own safety to check in at the Wildrose Ranger Station before and after climbing. During winter the road above the Charcoal Kilns is often closed by snow, adding 3 miles to the round-trip distance of the hike.
Bikes are only allowed on roads open to automobile traffic. Roads listed on old maps may no longer be in existence. Check at the Visitor Center for current road conditions. Bikes are not allowed to travel cross-country or on hiking trails. They are allowed on the hundreds of miles of dirt and paved roads.
|Route Name||Location||Level of Vehicle Use||One-way Mileage||Difficulty|
|Bicycle Trail||From Visitor Center to Mustard Canyon||High||2 miles||Easy|
|Desolation Canyon||4 miles south off Badwater Road||Low||1 mile||Easy|
|Twenty-Mule team Canyon||4.5 miles east off Hwy. 190||Moderate||3 miles||Easy|
|Hole-in-the-Wall||6.5 miles east off Hwy. 190||Low||4 miles||Moderate|
|Keane Wonder Mine||17 miles north off Beatty cut-off Road||Low||3 miles||Moderate|
|Skidoo||49 miles NW then east off Emigrant Canyon Road||Moderate||7 miles||Moderate|
|Aguereberry Point||53 miles NW then east off Emigrant Canyon Road||Moderate||6 miles||Moderate|
|Big Four Mine||9.5 miles south off Badwater Road (one way paved with hills)||Low||5 miles||Moderate|
|Artist's Drive||56.5 miles west then north off Hwy. 190||High||9 miles||More difficult|
|West Side Road||8 miles south off Badwater Road||Moderate||40 miles||More difficult|
|Trail Canyon||5 miles south off Westside Road (rough uphill into canyon with rocky spots)||Low||8 miles||More difficult|
|Greenwater Valley||20 miles SE via Hwy. 190 and Dante's View Road||Low||30 miles||More difficult|
|Titus Canyon||33 miles NE off Beatty Road (one-way hills with loose gravel)||Moderate||28 miles||More difficult|
|Cottonwood Canyon||24 miles west off Hwy. 190 (gentle grade, sometimes deep sand at start)||Moderate||20 miles||More difficult|
|Racetrack||53 miles north via Scotty's Castle Road (very washboardy first ten minutes)||Low||27 miles||More difficult|
|Hidden Valley||20 miles via Racetrack road to Teakettle Jct||Low||10 miles||More difficult|
Avoid biking in canyons if there is a storm approaching. Sunglasses, first aid kit, proper clothing and extra food and water are recommended for a safe trip.
Activities and Calendar
Address & Phone
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Harmony Borax Works
Keane Wonder Mine & Mill
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Size and Visitation
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Wildrose Charcoal Kilns
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