CA – Death Valley National Park, Wildrose Peak and Kilns

While my intent was to hike Telescope Peak, sometimes you find second best is better than good enough. I glimpsed at what might have been my targets from my hike near Zabriskie Point.

I was drawn to the trailhead by the promise of these charcoal kilns, something on my must-see list. I’d seen them elsewhere but in a much degraded condition.

According to the NPS website, “The Wildrose Charcoal Kilns were completed in 1877 by the Modock Consolidated Mining Company to provide a source of fuel suitable for use in two smelters adjacent to their group of lead-silver mines in the Argus Range west of Panamint Valley, about 25 miles distant from the kilns. Although the mines themselves were worked intermittently until about 1900, there is no clear evidence that the charcoal kilns were operational after 1879. Evidently either other fuel sources were located or it was found to be more profitable to ship the raw ore elsewhere for processing. This short life may help to explain the remarkably good condition of these kilns, more than 100 years after their construction.”

The road to the Telescope Peak Trailhead was closed adding 3 miles round trip to an already too long day of 14 miles, making for a 17 mile day, much too far for this out-of-shape body. I considered backpacking but once I saw the amount of snow, I decided it needed to wait for another day. Funny I tried to find Wildrose Peak on my drive up to the trailhead but it’s hidden from sight until the final approach.

Wildrose Peak is at 9,064′ requiring a 2,200′ ascent over 4.2 miles.

Sadly on this day the skies were hazy but you could still see the Eastern Sierra in the distance.

The early part of the trail was mostly a perfect grade switchback with the shaded areas harboring snow.

There was about 1/4 mile of trail covered in ice. It was fairly steep and I was grateful to have microspikes for the descent. At least three hikers ahead of me turned around after walking a short distance on the icy terrain. There was another section requiring snow navigation, the voices behind me gave up and turned around during this stretch. I felt sort of bad ass knowing at least 5 had turned around while I continued my forward progress. This is where skills and experience pay off.

i loved the forest. It was open and airy filled with Pinion Pine.

Juniper Pine were the other prevalent tree.

Wildrose Peak looked unimpressive.

But with views like these I wasn’t complaining.

From Wildrose Peak you get a great view of Telescope Peak. I thought I was looking at the trail but later found out the giant zigzag was the road to Roger’s Peak.

The peak marker. There is also a register in the green ammunition box. Last person who signed was celebrating his 62nd birthday!

I found a bunch of ladybugs on the peak. Does that mark spring?

I also found a lucky penny.

Besides the wonderful forest, I also found some colorful rocks.

Room with a view. There is also free camping at Wildrose Campground.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 5, 2020

Hike Details:Tips:

  • There are nearby dispersed camping options. The Furnace Creek Visitor Center will provide you with a map detailing authorized areas and rules.
  • Don’t count on cell in the park. The Visitor Center includes sunrise and sunset times on their weather bulletin.
  • From the park’s website, download GPS tracks for many of the trails.
  • Ask about specific trails at the Visitor Center and they’ll provide you with a handout.



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6 thoughts on “CA – Death Valley National Park, Wildrose Peak and Kilns

  1. I think I liked my hike to Wildrose more than the hike to Telescope. And I don’t think it was entirely because I got to search for PLSS markers. Well, maybe a little, because in searching for one about halfway up the trail, I came upon logs cut to donkey hauling proportions and still waiting for their turn in the kilns.

      • PLSS = Public Land Survey System. On the typical USGS map, it’ll be the red markings of township and range and sections. Usually along the edges, especially corners, you can sometimes see a red “+”. That’s where you can find them. Wildrose has 3 marked. I didn’t find the one at the top, did find the one about midway, and the one near the bottom was very damaged. I’ve also found them by following the little yellow signs on bearing trees. I do question how accurately they are marked on the map because I’ve failed to find many that were marked and have found a few that weren’t. Also in red, there is sometimes a little box marking a boundary monument.

  2. Played my Ovation 12-string guitar in one of the kilns – great sound, as it swirls around you as you play (sat in the very center of the dome). Would be a great place to record. Heard a car pull up then the crunch of footsteps, then saw the surprised face of a visitor looking in through the kiln door to see who was playing a guitar in such an out of the way place.

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