Fall Canyon (Death Valley National Park)

Fall Canyon in Death Valley National Park’s, Grapevine Mountains has gained a healthy amount of popularity with regular visitors to the hottest place on earth, yet remains something of a hidden gem to the casual visitors. This is likely because the trailhead begins a couple of miles from pavement, and it isn’t clustered around the Furnace Creek tourist trap.

The hike begins from the parking area where Titus Canyon empties out of the Grapevine Mountains. Despite Titus Canyon being a one way road throughout, two-way travel is permitted between Scotty’s Castle Road, and the mouth of Titus Canyon.¬† From the interpretive sign near the bathroom, look for the well-worn trail heading to the north. Follow this trail for nearly a mile to the entrance of Fall Canyon.

 

Mouth of Fall Canyon

Mouth of Fall Canyon

 

Colorful, and towering walls.

Colorful, and towering walls.

 

Mosaic Patterns in the canyon walls.

Mosaic Patterns in the canyon walls.

 

Beautifully carved passages.

Beautifully carved passages.

 

There are no ghost towns, or mines here. There is however plenty of rock art, not Native American rock art, but rather natural geological rock art. Fall Canyon has been carved by thousands of years of intense flash flooding. The walls of the canyon have been beautifully smoothed and polished. The canyon walls tower several hundred feet above (sometimes up to 2,000 feet), and in sections the walls narrow to a 15 feet diameter, giving Fall Canyon the reputation of having the narrowest and deepest slots in Death Valley. Don’t be fooled however into thinking that Fall Canyon is a slot canyon, much of the canyon is wide, with only occasional narrow sections.

After a few miles of hiking up canyon, a 20-foot dry fall is encountered. A work around several feet before the fall on the south side of the canyon allows for a relatively easy bypass. This bypass is usually marked by a stack of rocks against the canyon wall. It is imperative that you at least attempt this climb, the most sunning narrows lie just above, going on for roughly a half mile. Once past this stretch of narrows, the canyon slowly opens back up, with a couple of additional sets of narrows.

Several miles above, the canyon enters a transition zone of juniper and pinyon pine, resembling a narrow valley rather than the narrow canyon that lies below. From here one may continue to Mount Palmer and/or Wahguyhe Peak.

 

The views in Fall Canyon never become boring.

The views in Fall Canyon never become boring.

 

The 20-foot dry fall.

The 20-foot dry fall.

 

The work around appears more dangerous than what it actually is.

The work around appears more dangerous than what it actually is.

 

Some friends make it up the bypass, and are working their way around the dryfall.

Some friends make it up the bypass, and are working their way around the dryfall.

 

The most stunning narrows lie ahead.

The most stunning narrows lie ahead.

About the author

Jim Mattern

Jim is a scapegoat for the NPS, an author, adventurer, photographer, radio personality, guide, and location scout. His interests lie in Native American and cultural sites, ghost towns, mines, and natural wonders in the American Deserts.

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