Death Valley Hiking Tour
Assembly Point: Las Vegas
|Tour Cost: $2,295
(includes all lodging, all meals, van shuttle between Las Vegas and Death Valley, park entrance fees, leaders, tour maps and narratives)
Death Valley has an instantaneous emotional impact on everyone who sees it. That initial view from Zabriskie Point across the vastness of the valley floor to the distant Panamint Peaks rising from the valley clad in an unmistakable mantle of snow is unlike anything that you have ever experienced in a hiking trip.
Spectacular though this view may be, it reveals nothing of the intrigue of Death Valley. Several days of hiking into just a few of the nooks and crannies of Death Valley confirmed for us why we choose to hike rather than do bus tours (as though we ever entertained such a choice!). You won’t believe the hidden treasures that await you on this Death Valley Hiking Tour—the startling colors of Mosaic Canyon, the improbability of a waterfall in Fall Canyon and the narrows of that canyon above the fall, the Ubehebe Volcanic Crater, and the breathtaking views from its rim, to name a few. And, with a little luck (and winter rain), we may be dazzled by an array of desert golds that will surpass any prior images of a desert in bloom. The reality is—when you’ve chosen to visit a region that embraces the lowest point in the western hemisphere that is located only 80 miles from the highest point in the “lower 48”, you need to expect the unexpected. Death Valley does not disappoint.
As a fitting beginning for our visit to a land of extremes, we’ll assemble in Las Vegas, but escape the city limits relatively early morning of Day 1 as we head to Death Valley National Park. We’ll picnic for lunch at Furnace Creek and then continue to the amazing sand dunes near Stovepipe Wells. We’ll hike among the dunes and then return to our lodging, where we’ll spend all five of our overnights.
Early morning of Day 2, we’ll shuttle south beyond Badwater to the fringe of the Black Mountains that rise from the valley floor. We’ll walk through the wash that leads to Willow Canyon, and continue up-canyon along the stream that has emerged from the canyon’s rocky floor. We’ll follow that stream’s cascading course to an unlikely ribbon waterfall that marks our turnaround point (5 miles). Later that afternoon, we’ll walk through the salt flats at Badwater and also visit Natural Bridge (3 miles).
We’ll head north toward the Funeral Mountains on Day 3, and step back in time to the gold mining glory days in Death Valley during the early years of the 20th century. We’ll climb to the extensive remains of the Keene Wonder Mine and its magnificent views of the valley floor below (5 miles).
Later that afternoon, we’re off to Stovepipe Wells for a visit to Mosaic Canyon. If you have even the slightest interest in geology, you will be dazzled by the rock and color of Mosaic Canyon. The characteristic pinks and oranges of the predominant dolomite formation are offset by the intense polished white of the metamorphosed marble. Erosion has created a corridor of spectacularly narrow slots in Mosaic Canyon (3-4 miles).
Day 4, we’ll once again head south from Furnace Creek to the Badwater region. We’ll hike from the Golden Canyon Trailhead along, over, around and through the otherworldly labyrinth of Golden Canyon to Zabriskie Point overlook for an awesome view of the vast and varied panorama of Death Valley (5 miles).
Day 5, we’re headed for the northern reaches of the park. We’ll hike along the rim and into the bowels of both Little and Big Ubehebe craters, reminders of Death Valley’s volcanic legacy (3 miles). We’ll then tour historic Scotty’s Castle, the somewhat bizarre vacation home built as a playground by the wealthy friends of “Death Valley” Scotty during the gold boom days of the 1920’s. Time permitting, we may try to squeeze in a round at the Devil’s Golf Course.
We’ll leave Death Valley on the morning of Day 6 and shuttle to Red Rock Natural Area west of Las Vegas. We’ll hike along First Creek at Red Rock, with its stunning views of the park’s massive red rock formations (4 miles), have lunch in Summerlin, prior to our return to Las Vegas where our Death Valley Hiking Tour concludes.
|Day 1||Group assembles in Las Vegas early morning; van shuttle to Death Valley National Park; hike Sand Dunes (2 miles); overnight at Furnace Creek Ranch||2 miles|
|Day 2||Hike Willow Spring Canyon (6 miles); visit Badwater; hike Natural Bridge (2 miles)||8 miles|
|Day 3||Hike Mosaic Canyon (4 miles), Sand Dunes (2 miles); and Salt Creek (2 miles)||8 miles|
|Day 4||Hike Golden Canyon-Zabriskie Point- Gower Gulch (6 miles)||6 miles|
|Day 5||Hike Rim of Ubehebe and Little Hebe Craters (4 miles); tour Scotty’s Castle||4 miles|
|Day 6||Van Shuttle to Red Rock Natural Conservation Area; hike First Creek; return to Las Vegas||4 miles|
Total Hiking Mileage - 32 miles