Hike the road through the Titus Canyon Narrows to interesting rock walls, a spring, rock art, and more.
|Total Distance: Up to 15.6 miles out & back||Elevation Gain: Up to 4,419ft. (928ft. to 3,745ft.)|
|Difficulty: Easy to Very Extremely Strenuous||5+ Mile Difficulty: Easy to Very Extremely Strenuous|
|View Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 stars||Author’s Rating: 3.0 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: None|
|Trailhead Amenities: Primitive restroom||Crowd Factor: Moderate to Crowded|
|Trailhead Access: 1.2|
Mile-by-Mile: Titus Canyon Narrows
0.0 Exit of Titus Canyon Narrows (930ft.). Walk on the gravel road up the canyon. Be wary of vehicles coming down the canyon toward you, especially in the afternoon. The road winds through the tight canyon for about 1.7 miles before beginning to widen. (36.822044°, -117.173873°)
4.5 End of Lower Narrows (2,606ft.). This is as far as most people hike. However, you can continue to other interesting features if you want. (36.828135°, -117.109666°)
5.9 Klare Spring (3,076ft.). The spring area is an excellent place to view wildlife, especially bighorn sheep. (36.840990°, -117.090998°)
5.95 Petroglyph Rock (3,083ft.). Petroglyphs on a boulder have been badly vandalized, but you can still see the shapes of animals, desert plants, and more. (36.841196°, -117.090654°)
7.8 Road exits Titus Canyon (3,745ft.). From here, you can continue into Upper Titus Canyon or retrace your steps to the parking area at the mouth of the canyon. (36.853169°, -117.066764°)
History & More
Keep a wary eye out for vehicles driving down the canyon. Most drivers are cautious and courteous, but you should still be careful. For the fewest vehicles, hike early in the morning, as there hasn’t been time for the vehicles to drive down from the beginning of the road yet.
You can hike as far or as little up Titus Canyon as you desire. There are things to see within a quarter mile or even 7+ miles up the canyon.
The Timbisha American Indians carved petroglyphs into the rocks near Klare Spring. These prehistoric carvings depict desert animals, geometric designs, and more.
Titus Canyon is one of the best places in Death Valley to spot desert bighorn sheep. However, the sheep are masters of disguise – almost invisible when standing still. Watch for movements of white (the sheep’s rump).
Titus Canyon was named for Morris Titus. In 1906, Morris and several other prospectors left Rhyolite to seek their fortunes in the Grapevine Mountains. While camped in Titus Canyon, water supplies ran low. Morris left for help and more supplies, but his fate is unknown. What we do know is that he did not return to the camp or to Rhyolite.
Download Trail Map
Take Scotty’s Castle Road to the exit of the Titus Canyon Road (14.9 miles north of CA-190 and 18.3 miles south of the Grapevine Ranger Station). Turn east on the gravel Titus Canyon Road for 2.6 miles to the Titus Canyon Trailhead and Fall Canyon Trailhead parking.
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.)
Titus Canyon Narrows Route
I’ve only hiked up Titus Canyon once – if you don’t count the hundred-feet-into-the-canyon-jaunt I did after Fall Canyon a few years ago – and sadly, I didn’t find it very exciting. So if this seems a little lackluster, it’s only because I really wasn’t all that impressed as a tween. My guess is that it would be the cause of a little more awe now.
We started out up Titus Canyon very early one morning. Even in November, the days can get pretty hot, so we wanted to beat the heat. We also wanted to beat some of the traffic that would be coming down the road through the canyon later in the day – with a lot of little kids, it just seemed safer.
Titus Canyon tends to be fairly quiet in the early morning. You can’t camp along the road, so people have to drive at least 16 if not 20 miles to get to where you’ll be hiking – plus whatever miles they need to cover to get to the beginning of the road from their accommodations. The road tends to require slow driving in quite a few places, so chances are you won’t see much in the way of vehicles until at least 10am if not noon. If you’re looking for a quiet hike, that’s a bonus. If you’re my brothers who love to see jeeps and motorcycles, you’ll have more fun in the later afternoon.
The rock walls are very impressive from the first. Even if you only want to hike a quarter mile, it’s worth the trek. This is the Lower Narrows of Titus Canyon, so it’s about as skinny as the canyon gets. The road is fairly rough in this section – which is probably why it’s rated as requiring high clearance and impassable after storms (and therefore flash floods) tear down Titus Canyon.
The road twists and turns between the narrow, towering walls for about 1.7 miles before the canyon begins to widen. The Lower Narrows continues another 2.8 miles before the road rises onto the right bank, signaling the end of the Lower Narrows.
Most hikers don’t go beyond the Lower Narrows – you’re already talking about an 8.8 mile hike. However, it’s easy enough walking, so you might want to continue up further to see what else the canyon has to offer.
At mile 5.8, you’ll come to Klare Spring. There isn’t too much to see unless you’re lucky enough (and quiet enough) to see the bighorn sheep for which Titus Canyon is famous. Just beyond the spring is a boulder with rock art. Unfortunately, the ancient petroglyphs have been badly defaced. You should still be able to see images of sheep and geometric designs.
Walking about 2 miles beyond the spring will bring you to the place where the road leaves the canyon altogether (on the right). Upper Titus Canyon begins here – but that’s a topic for another post.