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For adventurous hikers, Grotto Canyon offers solitude and spectacular scenery.
This one is truly a choose-your-own-adventure type of trek.
There is no trailhead and no trail, so prepare for meandering wherever you desire. The hike begins, at least for those without 4WD vehicles, with nearly a mile of hiking up the Grotto Canyon access road.
The views from the road are lovely, so enjoy the uphill endeavor! Unlike many other Death Valley canyon hikes, Grotto Canyon is quite wide—up to 200 feet wide in places.
This makes everything look and feel unique and contributes to a completely different experience. It is important to note that casual hikers will not be able to progress more than about half a mile into the canyon-proper, past the first grotto.
In the first grotto you'll find a couple of challenging rock obstacles that require considerable skill to negotiate. Despite the obstacles that keep this a short trek for most hikers, there is ample beauty to reward the adventurous.
The narrows near the turnaround are twisty-turny eye candy, and there is a side trail just before the narrows that can be ascended to the top of the canyon.
Climbing up that trail provides expansive views of Death Valley, including a gorgeous vista of the Mesquite Sand Dunes. As with any canyon scrambling, be sure to accurately assess your skills before climbing up dryfalls, pour-overs, etc....
Climbing UP is always much easier than climbing DOWN, and getting back down is non-negotiable! Grotto Canyon is infrequently populated by others, so be prepared to be self-sufficient when tackling this beauty!