Death Valley canyons


March, 2005

— Golden Canyon

We have always enjoyed Golden Canyon. It provides an entry point into the badlands on the eastern side of Death Valley. The geology is fascinating (see photo #1, at left). On this trip, we visited Golden Canyon twice. The first time, we got up before dawn and climbed up to the base of Manly Beacon so that we could watch the sun come up on the Panamint Mountains on the other side of the valley. The views of Golden Canyon in the early morning light were beautiful.

Our second trip to the canyon was in the late afternoon. The hill sides were brilliantly lit by the sun and we saw a raven soaring among the cliffs. We climbed up the cliff side to get a better view. It was a bit scary climbing up the loose, steep sides of the canyon walls, but we thought the view from the top was worth it (see the panorama above). The climb back down was worse. Jim was not injured, though he did rip his pants when he fell.

— Mosaic Canyon

Located near Stovepipe Wells, Mosaic Canyon is a fascinating combination of marble topped with limestone with a filling of conglomerate sediments called breccia that have been worn away over time. The result creates a mosaic pattern on the walls of a polished marble hall (see photo #2). Here is Jamie posing with an example of the mosaic wall. The lower canyon is polished marble so narrow in places that we had to walk single file; after about a half mile it widens to a broader, gravel covered surface. As we climbed higher up into the canyon, the rock changed from marble to limestone. We were able to walk about 2 miles before turning back.

— Natural Bridge

Natural Bridge is located about a half mile up a canyon that has eroded from a sedimentary rock formation. The bridge is a piece of the original rock that has not yet been washed away (photo #3). The walls of the canyon are nearly vertical, and the floor is littered with rocks of various sizes that have washed down the canyon from above. We walked up the canyon until it got so steep we had to use our hands to climb the last bit. That was far enough. Here is the view to the east when we decided to turn back. You can see our shadows cast by the late afternoon sun.

Our favorite feature in this canyon is a huge, dry waterfall created by water flowing over the edge of the cliff during infrequent rain storms. We visited Natural Bridge at the end of the day, and the sun was just setting as we returned to our truck. We had a great view of Manly Lake and this year's wonderful wild flowers.

— return to the 2005 Journal Archive.