Death Valley is one of the three National Parks near Bishop, but also one of the lesser known and lesser visited ones. But it is our backyard and after decades of adventuring here ourselves, we have recently obtained permits and expanded our offerings to include showing you this remarkable place.
Death Valley has a reputation. What comes to mind are pioneers struggling across the valley abandoning supplies and barely escaping alive. The hottest temperatures recorded on earth. Blinding white salt flats and waterless, parched “desolation”.
This might be true. But there is another side to the Valley. Superb desert hiking into shaded canyons where roses grow and unique species such as pupfish live. Deeply eroded canyons with polished limestone grottos and dry waterfalls. Telescope Peak rising in one massive sweep from below sea level to over eleven thousand above, holding snow all winter long. Petroglyphs scratched into canyon walls by a people who long ago figured out how to survive here.
We can help get you there and show you Death Valley. Expand your backpacking horizons and your “off season” hiking opportunities as experienced guides show you around.
Here is what we have to offer you:
A 3-day, 2-night backpack
The Cottonwood to Marble Canyon Loop – This a three day loop trip that takes us up Cottonwood Creek past small desert springs and over a pass and back down well named Marble Canyon with a sandy wash between soaring grey marble walls and hidden traces of past civilizations.
A 3-day Death Valley smorgasbord
We will make one of the campgrounds near Furnace Creek our base and then over three days choose from our list of 7 possible options choose three, depending upon the desires of the group.
Join us and experience the desert as never before. It will no doubt turn you into a Death Valley aficionado!
The Cottonwood-Marble Canyon Loop
This a three-day loop trip that takes us up Cottonwood Creek. We’ll pass small desert springs on our way over a pass. We’ll find our way back down through the well-named Marble Canyon, a sandy wash between soaring grey marble walls and hidden traces of past civilizations.
Day 1. 8.5 miles +2300;, -360′
We meet at Stovepipe Wells on the west side of Death Valley, do an equipment check and then shuttle to the start of the hike in Cottonwood Canyon. The road approach is rough and sandy, so we will need to make sure we have the right vehicle(s) to get there. How far we get up the road depends upon the vehicles and road condition. But we hope to make it all the way to the junction of Cottonwood and Marble Canyons.
From here we make our way up an old road bed and dry alluvial wash to the spring at the end of the old road and set up camp for the night there under Cottonwood trees and willows.
Day 2. 9.5 miles, +2020’, -1679’
We can relax in the morning some since this is not a huge day. Enjoy waking up to the sights and sounds of the desert. We follow up Cottonwood Creek, past Cottonwood springs and over a gentle pass, the high point of the trip at 4780 feet and drop down to Deadhorse Canyon and camp at a small spring there.
Day 3. 8.5 miles, +250’, -2980’
We set off early in the cool morning. Our route is mainly downhill with a few diversions from the main wash and a short (8 foot) dryfall to negotiate. The canyon narrows between soaring gray limestone walls as we walk, wondering what is around the next bend. The canyon finally opens out into the lower Marble Canyon wash and the 1.8 miles back to the vehicles. We plan to get to the vehicles early afternoon giving you time to head home, with the quietness of the desert echoing in your ears.
The Three Day Death Valley Smorgasbord.
We will make one of the campgrounds near Furnace Creek our basecamp. Then, over three days, choose from our list of 7 possible options choose three, depending upon the desires of the group.
We will have a campsite arranged near Furnace Creek the night before and you can arrive anytime you want that day. During dinner that evening we will discuss options and preference and make plans for the next three days.
While the option here are nearly limitless we have selected six that will give you the best introduction to Death Valley. Some of these are trailed hiked, some are true cross country routes where few people go.
Here are our options, in no particular order:
- Fall Canyon – A five mile round trip to spectacular canyon narrows with some bypasses around dry falls to a high fall that blocks higher access.
- Funeral Slot Canyon – Possibly the longest and narrowest slot canyon in the Park with a nine mile round-trip hike.
- Grotto Canyon – An intricate, labyrinthine canyon, deep enough in places that the sun rarely penetrates. Careful scrambling and climbing around dry falls makes this seem longer than its six miles.
- Lower Bad Canyon – This is one of the giant canyons. It drops over 6000 feet from Dantes View to Badwater! We venture up in enough to get a feel for the magnitude and scale of these unique canyons.
- Mt. Perry – An eight mile round-trip on a rough use trail from the spectacular Dantes View to the summit of the Argus range, with expansive views over the whole of Death Valley Park.
- Natural Bridge Canyon – A canyon hike that takes us to the largest natural bridge in the Park and then a little beyond to the impassable fall blocking our access.
- Telescope Peak – The 11,043 high point of the Park sits between Death Valley and Panamint Valley. It is a fourteen mile round trip to the summit and back along a good trail. Winter may have snow and we need to be prepared for that.
Good physical condition.
Camping at a Death Valley Campground for the Death Valley Smorgasbord program
Cookware and kitchen
Food included on the Cottonwood Loop
Food is not included on the Death Valley Smorgasbord Program
★ Please Read before you go ★
We feel the following information is essential... (links open as PDF in new window)
- Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List for the Death Valley Smorgasbord
Details, Itinerary, and Equipment List for the Cottonwood-Marble Canyons Loop
- Our Covid-19 plan. Questions how it pertains to this program? Get in touch.
- Our Cancellation Policy
- Suggestions on preparation - get the most out of your trip!
- Tips on physical training for your trip
- LNT - Let's work together to protect our precious mountain environments.
Need to rent equipment for your trip? We can help.