H ike a desert canyon hike to a perennial waterfall.
|Total Distance: 6.4 miles out & back||Elevation Gain: 1,017ft. (1,914ft. to 2,691ft.)|
|Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous||5+ Mile Difficulty: Moderately Strenuous|
|View Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars||Author’s Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars|
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|Pets: No||Horses: Yes|
|Best Seasons: November-April||Special Permits: None|
|Water Availability: No potable water||Overnight Options: Dispersed camping permitted at least 1 mile from both the Beatty Cutoff Road and the Daylight Pass Road|
|Trailhead Amenities: None||Crowd Factor: Solitude|
|Trailhead Access: 0.6|
Mile-by-Mile: Monarch Canyon Route
0.0 Unmarked Trailhead (1,984ft.). The exact trailhead may vary; pull onto the shoulder of the road and don’t block traffic. Head west toward the biggest ravine in this part of the mountains. The terrain is over a gravelly alluvial fan; stay to the right (south) of some pinkish mounds. You may occasionally see evidence of an old road – the wear of many floods have mostly erased its existence. Be sure to look down on Death Valley, as the views are excellent of Badwater and surrounding mountains. The views of the Death Valley Buttes to the north are also worth seeing. (36.714450°, -116.974831°)
1.2 Enter Main Wash (1,938ft.). The wash is wide, with the hills on the left looking pink-ish and the hills on the right being brown or tan. Turn left (north) to follow Monarch Wash. (36.713787°, -116.954754°)
1.4 Wash Splits (2,025ft.). Follow the right (main) fork westward into the mountains. (36.715796°, -116.950576°)
1.75 Wash Splits (2,128ft.). Turn right to follow the main fork west. The canyon rises around the wash, twisting and turning and becoming narrower. (36.715995°, -116.944866°)
2.9 Canyon Narrows (2,514ft.). The canyon has been slowly narrowing for some time, but now the walls close in. Be ready for a few short scrambles, including a dryfall and a choke stone. The dryfall can be bypassed via ledges on the left side. The rocky walls have some interesting layering and swirls in this section. About mile 3.0, you’ll begin to see foliage from the water in the canyon. Depending on current flow, you may run into a 16ft. falls before the official waterfall. (36.719329°, -116.928430°)
3.2 Monarch Canyon Falls (2,691ft.). The waterfall is made up of many small drops. Flow is typically low but still beautiful. Scramble up one side or the other of the canyon to get a fuller view of the falls. (36.720036°, -116.925374°)
History & More
Some people have found that they could scramble up a steep hillside to the north to bypass the falls. However, the upper canyon is tangled in reeds, muddy, and offers very little in the way of views down on the waterfall. To explore the upper canyon, you’d be better off driving or walking in from the road to Chloride City.
A boomtown was once near Monarch Canyon (thus the old road). It’s said that justice was done one day by hanging a miner – but the photographer didn’t show up in time, so the poor dead man was hung a second time so it could be documented for the newspapers back East.
Download Trail Map
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.)