Death Valley Finale – Dirt Roads, Hiking and a Sunset

  The final day and a half at Death Valley included some of the most interesting and diverse environments and views that we would experience all trip. As the rest of the trip went… our motel stay was marred by other travelers creating a ruckus at all hours of the night and morning. We left a little earlier than usual to avoid any other travelers to Titus Canyon.

Titus Canyon  The drive into Titus Canyon was probably 45 minutes on flat dirt roads… which was pretty boring. But as we approached the mountains surrounding DV, the drive became much more interesting. We were basically in the middle of nowhere, driving over relatively rough terrain (again, good thing we had a high clearance AWD Santa Fe). Some of the roads had pretty steep inclines or declines and pretty big rocks to climb over. Downhill mode in the car became a good friend of mine since we basically went up and over the mountain pictured on the right. It was beautiful at the top, being able to drive out here with no roads or signs of civilization.

Entering Titus Canyon  To the left, we finally made it down and into the canyon. The narrowest point of the canyon was barely 6ft wide and the walls were probably 10 stories high. The drive was beautiful and we could understand why the road is closed if there is any rain, as this would be the first place to see a flash flood!

  The drive took just under 2 hours with stops, but could have easily been a 3hr drive if we stopped to savor the views.

Exiting Titus Canyon

Darwin Falls Hike  Next, we were off to Father Crowley Point and Darwin Falls. The drive from Titus canyon would require that we drive to the far west side of DV through Panamint Springs. Father Crowley Point was decent, but not a must see. Darwin Falls on the other hand was one of my favorite places. The picture of the right really puts into perspective how different this hike was. We start in a small canyon that’s all dirt and rocks… as we hiked towards the falls (by following a water pipe), we started to see bushes and vegetation, then trees, then streams, and then finally the waterfall.

  I can only imagine how refreshing this would be to see in the summer after feeling the scorching heat. Apparently, over the first falls is a second waterfall, but with the backpacks and camera gear, we weren’t willing to risk climbing up the side of the rocks and small hurdles. See below for a pic of Darwin Falls.

Darwin Falls

  We stopped for our final packed lunch… an orange, leftover hawaiian rolls, cheese and sandwich meats. We took it easy back to the car to enjoy the shade and moisture. After several days of the dry desert, it’s really refreshing having some sort of moisture back in my sinuses.

  Our next stop was the Charcoal Kilns. These were used to create charcoal and there are 9 (or 10) of them. They’re about 20 ft tall and a nice stop if you have time. And yes… that’s snow/ice on the ground.

Charcoal Kilns

  Next stop was Eureka Mines, which was one of the many abandoned mines or mills in death valley. Again, a nice stop if you have time to see “ruins”.

Eureka Mines

  Our third to last stop (2nd for the day) was Mosaic Canyon, where we started to see the sunset. This canyon is similar to Artist’s Palette, but it’s the different types of smoothed marble in the canyon that made it interesting. While not as colorful, the rock was smooth in many spots that were curved by faults and water. It was an easy hike up to a nice viewpoint, which proved to be a great spot to take pictures of Death Valley.

Mosaic Canyon

  To end the night, we stopped by the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes again… this time before and after dinner. Before dinner, we went to get the sunset and purple/pink hues. We stayed at the Stovepipe Wells Village and the food there was actually really good! We had a few local beers, nachos, salad and a quesadilla. Below are two pictures from the sand dunes.

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Sunset

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Milky Way

  Finally, our last new stop of the trip was Salt Creek Interpretive Trail. Again, an easy morning walk on wooden walkways over a stream of water in the middle of the desert. It was refreshing to see plant life and water, as well as birds nests and animals. The only other real animal we saw our whole trip was a coyote in the middle of the road the previous night. That hampered our plans since 1) it was basically pitch black out due to the moon phase and 2) there were carnivores out and 3) we thought it was a wolf lol.

Salt Creek

  We decided to leave the park by visiting what first wowed us at the park – Dante’s View. This time we just went up there for an hour to soak it all in, reflect on the trip and be appreciative that we had experience pretty much the whole park. Thanks for reading!

Badwater from Dante's

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