1 - 2
FATMAP difficulty grade
Mosaic Canyon is high on the list for most visitors to Death Valley National Park, but the vast majority never venture past the first 1/4- to 1/2-mile.
The first short bit is admittedly breathtaking, but for those with gumption, continuing on is hugely rewarding and leaves the crowds behind. Despite the mass of fellow trekkers, take the time to fully enjoy the tight, twisty lower portion of Mosaic Canyon.
The aqua-tinted rock walls and the eponymous “mosaic” conglomerate make it feel like you're wandering through an ancient museum. About a half-mile in, the glitzy, dramatic lower canyon opens up to an amazingly wide, open corridor.
This is where most folks turn around; however, the show's not over for those with perseverance! After wandering up the wide wash, the walls close in again, and the way is seemingly blocked with rockfall.
By being observant and a bit creative, this blockage can be surmounted, allowing hikers further exploration of Mosaic Canyon.
For most hikers, the trek is ended by a 20-foot-high dryfall about 2 miles in.
After sufficient gawking, turn around and head back the way you came.
On the way back, there are several opportunities for little side adventures in the wide, open portion of the canyon.
If time and energy allow, explore the very intriguing ridge via an enticing social trail atop it.
Parts of the ridge are just as wide as two feet next to each other.
From the top of the ridgeline, one can see another enticing social trail winding up a very large hill across the way.
From the top of THAT, one can peer down to the wide part of the canyon below! The short, dramatic beginning of Mosaic Canyon is suitable for anyone.
After that, it becomes increasingly difficult and less accessible to the average hiker.
Gauging one's abilities is essential to deciding how far to go, but any distance makes for a worthy Death Valley outing.
Be prepared with ample water for any distance! Access to Mosaic Canyon is via the 2.3-mile dirt Mosaic Canyon Road, which is located in Stovepipe Wells Village, across from Stovepipe Wells Campground.