Mosaic Canyon – Death Valley

Furnace Creek, CA

We headed out this morning with a number of stops on our itinerary.  The first was a visit to Mosaic Canyon, one of the most popular hikes in Death Valley NP.  Its about a 25 mile drive from Furnace Creek to a small oasis called Stovetop Wells Village, then three miles up a dusty dirt road to the trailhead.

The wide open desert in Death Valley

Entering Mosaic Canyon (right into the sun)

The canyon walls are filled with impressive colors.

While this is a fairly easy hike, there are a few places that require a bit of climbing.

About half way up the canyon we came upon this “little” guy crossing the wash.  It is mating season for the tarantula.  He’s on the prowl!

After a bit the canyon opened up to a wide area in the wash.  We climbed up on a ridge to get better footing than the loose rocks in the wash.

The last quarter mile of the canyon presents some fairly challenging pour-overs that required a bit of scrambling.

The canyon ends at a steep, high wall so we climbed up to a spot along the side wall to enjoy a bite to eat.

Then it was back down through the narrow pour-overs.

Once back down that last quarter mile, the hike is again a nice walk through the canyon filled with beautiful dolomite, a granite like rock.

After hiking Mosaic Canyon, we stopped for a short visit at the Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes.  We walked out a short distance on the dunes but found it to be like a walk on the beach without the sound of water hitting the shore, so we returned to the Jeep.

The next stop for the day was to Salt Creek.  It is unusual to see water in Death Valley so this is an interesting spot.  The water rises up from a spring and flows for about a half mile before sinking back into the ground.  The water has a high salt content so not many animals drink from it and few fish can survive there.  It does support a rare fish called a Pupfish, but we walked the boardwalk trail that loops around the creek and didn’t see any life in the water.

Pickleweed growing along Salt Creek

The final stop for the day was at the historic Harmony Borax Works.  During the 1880s borax was gathered from the nearby salt flat and processed here before being transported out of Death Valley in the famous twenty mule team wagons.

Remains of the borax processing plant

Next to the borax plant is a one mile loop road through the yellow badlands of Mustard Canyon.

This was a great day with cool temperatures (70 degrees), beautiful sunshine, and great sights to visit.  But there are many more great spots to see in Death Valley so stay tuned!

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12 Responses to Mosaic Canyon – Death Valley

  1. Looks like you are hitting all the highlights. It is tough walking on those dunes!

  2. Sherry says:

    Again I am amazed at how much you guys do in one day. Love your pictures! The canyon walls are especially beautiful and the next picture of what almost looks like a slot canyon. Sounds nice and warm there in Death Valley in November unlike here in Georgia where it is going to be 24 tonight. Just amazing for mid November.

  3. Laurel says:

    Looks like a fun day with a great variety of adventures. Such a pretty hike in Mosaic Canyon, and with enough challenge to keep it interesting. 🙂 Your photos create a wonderful travelogue, and make me feel like I’m right there with you.

  4. It’s nice to have so much variety in one day! Seems like you’ve been seeing quite a few tarantulas. We have seen pupfish in the palm oasis pools in Desert Hot Springs, though in some cases they have been obliterated by crayfish. Neat looking pickleweed!

  5. Nan & John says:

    Death Valley is still one of our favorite places. Great post today.

  6. heyduke50 says:

    I loved our visit to Death Valley… thanks for taking me back

  7. Jim and Barb says:

    Yet another place we will add to our “Must See” list! I could do without the spiders however.

  8. Joan and Steve says:

    Another beautiful hike. Looks like you did a little sliding on your backsides to get down!

    You guys should consider publishing a book about hiking. The pictures you take and the detail you give are fantastic! Great information. Of course bookmarking your blog works too.

  9. Hiking at the Mosaic Canyon was one of my favorite but we did not encounter tarantulas. I am enjoying all your adventures for it brought back lots of good times.
    Thanks for rubbing it in John 70 degrees! Our temps here is still in the 40’s

  10. Rick Doyle says:

    That looked like another rugged but beautiful hike. I never realized there was water anywhere in Death Valley. Interesting! I still remember the mule teams from TV – shows how old I am.

  11. Erin says:

    Hiking with a splash of history … sounds like a good day.

  12. LuAnn says:

    Mosaic Canyon looks like an interesting place to hike. I bet the colors on those lovely canyon walls provide a beautiful backdrop at various times of the day. Wish we were hiking there with you. 🙂

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