A short hike up a trailless desert canyon between badland hills.
|Total Distance: 1.2 miles out & back||Elevation Gain: 214ft. (-73ft. to 129ft.)|
|Difficulty: Easy||0-5 Mile Difficulty: Strenuous|
|View Rating: 2.0 out of 5.0 stars||Author’s Rating: 1.0 out of 5.0 stars|
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|Pets: No||Horses: No|
|Best Seasons: November-April||Special Permits: None|
|Water Availability: None||Overnight Options: None|
|Trailhead Amenities: None||Crowd Factor: Solitude|
|Trailhead Access: 1.1|
Mile-by-Mile: Desolation Canyon South Fork Route
0.0 Desolation South Canyon (-73ft.). Take the lesser-used old road that heads almost due south from the parking area into a wash. (The more-used route goes up the main fork of Desolation Canyon.) Turn left (south/east) up the wash. (36.395512°, -116.838714°)
0.5 Side canyon (89ft.). Pass by a side canyon on the left. (36.389784°, -116.835501°)
0.6 End of old road (129ft.). It may be possible to continue exploring by turning left (north) and following the wash up into the hills. (36.388862°, -116.834460°)
History & More
Many of the yellow-tinted rocks in Death Valley have a high concentration of Limonite, a type of iron ore. The badlands around the South Fork of Desolation Canyon are yellow. If you go over the ridge to look down into Artist Pallette, you can see other colors – the purple and red/orange rocks have hematite in them, and green or blue rock is comprised of chlorite or nontronite.
Download Trail Map
From Furnace Creek, take CA-190 East for 1.3 miles. Turn right on the Badwater Road. After 3.7 miles, turn left on the gravel road (it may or may not be signed for Desolation Canyon). The trailhead is up the gravel road 0.5 miles from the paved road. The parking area is large enough to accommodate small RVs.
From Death Valley Junction, take CA-190 West 28.9 miles to the Badwater Road. Turn left, following the sign for Badwater. After 3.7 miles, turn left on the gravel road (it may or may not be signed for Desolation Canyon). The trailhead is up the gravel road 0.5 miles from the paved road. The parking area is large enough to accommodate small RVs.
From the south, drive north on the Badwater Road. The right turn onto the gravel road to the parking area is 1.1 miles north of the exit to Artist’s Drive (4.9 miles north of the entrance to Artist’s Drive).
Remember, it may be easier to climb up dryfalls than down them (or vice versa). Be sure you can climb in the other direction before climbing up or down a dryfall.
Leave No Trace Principles are enforced
Drones and model aircrafts are prohibited
Camping is permitted only in designated sites or in areas open to dispersed backcountry camping
All park rules and regulations
12 Month Pass: $55/Death Valley Annual Pass (valid at Death Valley National Park). $80/America the Beautiful Annual Pass (valid at all national park and federal fee areas). $20/Annual Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/4th Grade Pass (Valid Sept. 1-August 31 of the child’s 4th Grade school year). Free/Military Pass (valid for all active military personel and their dependents with a CAC Card or DD Form 1173).
Lifetime Pass: $80/Lifetime Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/Access Pass (available to all US citizens with perminent disabilities). Free/Access for Veterans and Gold Star Families Pass (valid for all military and veterans with a CAC card, Veteran HJealth Identification Card, Veteran ID Card, or veteran’s designation on state-issued drivers license or identification card.)