CA – Death Valley National Park, Marble Canyon

The drive to the trailhead was my biggest challenge. It started with sand,, some deep, then converted to rocky through a wash. It was mostly single track which I really hate. There is a parking area about 2.5 miles from the trailhead. With a few huge ruts in front of me, I joined another half dozen vehicles playing it safe.

I was lucky enough to hitch a ride for half a mile, but still added 4.5 miles to my out and back hike. This is a very popular backpack trip linking Cottonwood and Marble Canyons. I met several hikers finishing the loop, and a gal who gave me a ride who was just starting her trip. This junction is the parking area for those hiking the loop.

My new dream machine, can you see it now Jan’s Jaunting Jeep?

The mouth of the canyon and official trailhead.

The canyon colors were striking.

This blockage ensured no further vehicular traffic. Thankfully it wasn’t the end of my hike like when I was confronted with a dry fall on the Fall Canyon hike.

This detour ended up being one of my favorite parts of the hike.

The scramble to avoid the blockage.

There were several sections of narrows.

And a few alcoves like this one.

The cactus weren’t blooming yet, but it was nice to see the variety.

I even found some damp areas. I’m sure if you were desperate you might be able to dig a hole to find some water.

Other areas showed recent rain.

Favorite rock formation.

Early indications are a slim bloom display this year, so unlike my 2016 superbloom experience.

I was happy to find a few blooms in the canyon including this Turtleback.

Golden Evening-Primose

Globemallow

Desert Gold Poppy

This miniature collard lizard was cooperative for a photo, although not very colorful. His more mature friend wasn’t such a willing subject.

My hiking guidebook mentioned traveler signatures. I was happy to find the gallery.

Finding this rock art was thrilling. It was high on a wall and while I unsuccessfully attempted better views, I was happy with this zoomed view.

I think this nature’s art would make a nice mural.

There are plenty of campsites along the access road. I was happy to have this sunrise reward the next morning.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 6, 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.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

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.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

CA – Death Valley National Park, Fall Canyon

The hike begins on this exposed trail. I arrived at 8:30am and it was already 72F degrees. I was thankful to be carrying my sunbrella as it was 85F by the time I finished around 12:30pm.

I was also happy much of the canyon was in the shade.

Sometimes the canyon was narrow, other times a bit more open.

The end of the road except for those “expert” willing to attempt the bypass. This is an 18-foot fall with the bypass climb starting with a class 4 chimney. My guidebook says “it’s well worth the effort. Above the fall the wash squeezes through the tighest narrows of Fall Canyon. Although only a third of a mile long, they are among the best around and the most exciting part of this hike.” If I wasn’t solo I probably would have attempted the climb. Once past this obstacle you can continue for a 10-15 mile one-way hike.

As you can see by this photo, someone camped here recently. There were also three day packs waiting nearby that I presume were attempting access to the upper canyon.

In general I was underwhelmed by this canyon, but I found some cool looking rocks.

I found a couple pots of water thanks to the recent rains. I’m glad I didn’t have to drink from this one with a very strong red tint.

The trail is extremely easy to follow as you’re pretty much walking a washing through the canyon. This is the one place you are happy for this well-placed cairn.

Between the canyon mouth and the trailhead I found a few gems like this Bigelow Monkeyflower.

Desert Chicory

Lesser Mojavea

My favorite the Desert Five-Spot

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 4, 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.
  • I was glad I hiked the direction I did as the sun was behind me and I think I enjoyed better lighting.
  • 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.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

CA – Death Valley National Park, Ubehebe Craters

“Ubehebe Crater is a large volcanic crater 600 feet deep and half a mile across. This impressive crater was caused by a steam and gas explosion when hot magma rising up from the depths reached ground water. The intense heat flashed the water into steam which expanded until the pressure was released as a tremendous explosion.The western cluster of Maar volcanoes was the first to form, then the southern cluster, followed by Ubehebe—the largest of them all—possibly as recently as 300 years ago.” Source: NPS Death Valley

With Scotty’s Castle closed since 2015, prior to my first visit to Death Valley, I hadn’t prioritized a visit to Ubehebe Crater previously. On this day I spent the morning hiking from the Zabriskie Trailhead and took a timeout mid-day to escape the heat, which worked out for a late afternoon jaunt to the craters. Lighting was nearly optimal although arrived 30-60 minutes earlier would have been better.

The park recommended hiking counterclockwise to see Little Hebe Crater, but since it started with a steep ascent I wasn’t very excited and since it was a loop I couldn’t imagine it mattering. I worried a bit about the steep descent on cinder so I followed the recommendation. There are a ton of social trails and it really didn’t matter as to the direction and I would recommend clockwise.

You might think this is Little Hebe but alas just another crater with Tin Mountain at 8,953 in the background.

Little Hebe Crater

Cool geologic formations instead the craters.

I found some wildflowers as I wandered around the craters.

Purplemat and Desert Gold Poppy 

Brown-Eyed Evening-Primose

I can’t remember what these little bushes are called but it glowed as it caught the light.

From my nearby dispersed campsite, I caught first light on Tin Mountain.

Using Peak Finder app, I was able to verify the name of the mountain.

And saw the sun peek over the crater.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 3, 2020

Hike Details:

Tips:

  • There is dispersed camping near Ubehebe Crater. 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.
  • I was glad I hiked the direction I did as the sun was behind me and I think I enjoyed better lighting.
  • 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.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

CA – Death Valley National Park, Zabriskie Point Trailhead (Badlands/Golden/Gower)

It’s hard to resist Zabriskie Point at sunrise. I first experienced it during my 2016 visit when I was in Death Valley for the Superbloom.

The plan was to hike an extended loop including Golden Canyon, Red Cathedral and Gower Gulch. Shortly after sunrise I was on the trail.

There are several smaller loops available. You can start from either the Zabriskie or Golden Canyon Trailheads.

Each junction is clearly marked making it difficult to get lost.

Early morning shadows near the beginning of the badlands trail.

I loved all the ridges and wrinkles.

There was a nice variety of geology to see along the route.

By the time I reached Gorman Gulch I was wishing I’d packed my umbrella. Even though it was only 11am, it was too warm for this winter acclimated body.

Basically you are walking through a sandy wash with plentiful reflection.

Bonus: found the first Phacelia of the season

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 3, 2020

Hike Details:

Tips:

  • There is dispersed camping near Zabriskie Point. 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.
  • I was glad I hiked the direction I did as the sun was behind me and I think I enjoyed better lighting.
  • 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.

Resources:

Links:

I participate in the Amazon affiliate program and may receive a commission on qualifying purchases linked in this post. It doesn’t affect your price but it helps support this site.

CA – Death Valley National Park . . . roadside treats and tiny jaunts

March blew in like a lion leaving me with a special treat in the form of snow on Joshua trees along Lee Flat.

With morning light shining on Rainbow Canyon, it was time to stretch my legs.

Father Crowley Point shows where Rainbow Canyon drops off into the valley.

Love the geology of this stretch just southwest of Towne Pass.

I found snow and ice at Towne Pass.

The Salt Creek Trail is a perfect place for a wonder and wander.

It is home to the Pup Fish, a fairly rare species.

I had low expectations about seeing this fish but was I ever in for a surprise. Look at the large blob in the middle. That’s a ton of Pup Fish.

There were numerous ponds and lots of salt flats.

Artists Palette Drive is a favorite late afternoon viewing area to best see the colors. I should have started a little earlier so I could have enjoyed the colors at the far end.

On another day, I visited Borax Works and drove the 20 Mules Canyon, another geology wonder.

Mustard Canyon is GOLD!

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 2 and 7, 2020

Links:

CA – Death Valley National Park, Dante’s Ridge

I met a couple while hiking to Darwin Falls who recommended this hike. It wasn’t on my map nor was it in my extensive Death Valley hiking guide. Since I love ridges and viewpoints, I decided to check it out. Worse case, I’d go with a Plan B.

There are two hiking viewpoints from this parking area. I headed north. The first stretch to the top of the visible peak is very busy.

I enjoyed the views down into the salt flats.If you didn’t know better you might think you were looking at the ocean.

The peak marker was NOT on the obvious peak.

This what’s known as Dante’s Ridge. At the far end is Mount Perry which is a destination and turnaround for many. I was on a time limit and would not make it that far on this visit. The hike has plenty of up and down and up and down and around and around. This unmaintained trail (route) was in pretty good shape for the section I hiked and easy to follow.

This was my turnaround point. It was hard to see how the trail would traverse the next ridge.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 3, 2019

Resources:

Links:

CA – Death Valley National Park, Darwin Falls

Although I was on a mission to find wildflowers, I’m always in need of distractions enroute as I don’t enjoy long distance driving. A diversion from Highway 395 to Death Valley was a logical choice. I stopped and hiked around a few overlook areas on my way to find a camping spot for the night.

Pretty nice campsite view. It made for some great sunset and sunrise views, although it was a bit windy.

Good morning world!

I had originally planned to camp on the road to Darwin Falls, but as a rule follower, I respected the sign.

i was first car to the trailhead. By the time I returned from the short hike the parking lot was full.

Seeing cottonwood trees and green anywhere in Death Valley is a special treat and something not to be taken for granted.

There was water in the creek.

Darwin Falls.

Look at that lush green.Those are ferns . . . in Death Valley!

Found my first wildflowers of the season and even a ladybug.

Adventure Date(s):

  • March 2-3, 2019

Resources:

Links:

CA – Death Valley NP – Mesquite Sand Dunes

Good morning! It’s 7am and all is good. 

It’s 7:30am. 

It’s near 8am.

We hiked around these dunes for 2-3 hours. What a great workout while watching the changing light. 

Date(s) Hiked: February 28, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #9 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • There aren’t any trails in the sand dunes. Pay attention or use navigation assistance to mark your vehicle location. It would be easy to get lost. Bring water. Go early or late. Sand has a reflective quality intensifying the heat. Be a kid, run down those slopes 🙂
  • I found the camping in Death Valley to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break. Another great option is the canyons or heading for higher elevation.

Resources:

CA – Death Valley NP – Corkscrew Peak

While my friend Norma is credited for much of my internal growth, Christy (aka Rockin’) is credited for much of my external growth. I found her blog, Lady on a Rock, many years ago. She became my backpacking gear and trail mentor. Her adventures set the bar high and proved women of my age could and should not feel constrained by preconceived notions. Over the years we became online friends and finally had the opportunity to meet and hike together in early 2015. 

The stage was set for an anniversary hike. Since Rockin’ has spent significant time exploring and hiking in Death Valley, she planned this hike. Something that would be new for her, and without question challenging. I consider her a bad ass hiker and climber. To say I was a little nervous is an understatement. She’s far more accomplished and skilled than me. Add to that the fact that I was a bit out of shape after spending the prior 3-4 months recovering from broken ribs.

Her choice: Corkscrew Peak. It’s not in most hiking books, not even the nearly 600-page Michel Digonnet bible. It’s a route, not a trail. Definition of route hiking? Adventure!

Corkscrew Peak is in the background as Rockin’ leads the way. 

The distinctive twist of Corkscrew.

As we gained elevation, the views improved. 

There’s Rockin’ celebrating on top of . . . a false summit. 

And onward we go. 

Sometimes there’s trail, and sometimes not so much. 

Another false summit, and so we continue. 

At Hole-in-Rock window, I’d had enough and figured this view was good enough. 

But with more trail to climb, and encouraging friends, after a little rest I continued my upward ascent.

With views like this I was happy to have pushed my limits. This is looking into Badwater Basin.

The Sierra are visible far in the distance. 

And then it was time to descend while enjoying more geologic diversity. 

Bigelow Monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii)

Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) and Fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellata).

Celebrating at the top. Photo credit: Rockin’ 

Date(s) Hiked: February 27, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #8 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • According to my app, this was a 7+ mile round trip hike with 3,000+ feet elevation gain/loss.
  • I found the camping in Death Valley to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break. Another great option is the canyons or heading for higher elevation.

Resources:

Links: