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Mosaic Canyon - Death Valley National Park

Summary: A popular and fairly pretty canyon with interesting geology located across from Stovepipe Wells Village. I recommend doing this hike first thing in the morning to beat the large RV camper crowds. Here's what the Park Service has to say about Mosaic:

"Walking into Mosaic Canyon is like walking into a museum. It is a showcase of geological features as well as a beautiful example of one of Death Valley's many canyons. Located 1/4 mile west of Stovepipe Wells Village the 2 mile gravel access road climbs 1000 feet to the parking area. From here an easy quarter mile walk leads into the canyon narrows where the surrounding rock walls are composed of smooth water polished marble. If time permits you can continue hiking for another 1.5 - 2 miles before the way is blocked by a dry waterfall. Mosaic Canyon is named for a rock formation known as the Mosaic Breccia. Breccia is an Italian word meaning fragments. The formation is composed of angular fragments of many different kinds of parent rock and it can be seen on the floor of the canyon just south of the parking area. The most common rock formation in the canyon is the Noonday Dolomite. This limestone is rich in magnesium and formed 750-900 million years ago when the area was part of the Pacific Ocean."

Directions: Drive west from Stovepipe Wells Village on CA 190 for 0.25 miles and look for a sign for Mosaic Canyon and a dirt road on the south side of the road. Take this somewhat bumpy dirt road 2.4 miles to the parking lot and trailhead.
Road Conditions: Passenger Car
Navigation: Easy
Length: 4 miles
Date Hiked: November 2004
Weather Conditions: Cloudy and cool
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the parking area, walk up the canyon a short distance to some interesting narrows with sections of polished marble and conglomerate rock. The narrows end within 10 minutes and the canyon becomes rather wide. Fortunately, though, the gravel is packed, making walking fairly easy. After about 45 minutes you'll reach a dry fall which has a well trodden and cairned route around it on the right (facing up canyon) a few hundred feet back from the falls. Above this point are a couple of little climbs, followed by a 45 foot dry fall. There is a climbers route with some exposure around this obstacle on the left (facing up canyon), but it's hardly worth it, since you'll be faced with a series of dry falls just above which will stop even good climbers. Return the way you came.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife hiked up to the dry fall pictured below. The author then climbed around on the left and was able to climb one more falls above before being stopped by a sheer 45 foot chute. The hike was completed in 1.5 hours.
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Death Valley National Park
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.

Colorful hills. Interesting geology.
Marble narrows. Dry fall and turnaround point.