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Death Valley

April 3-7, 2019

Here is a unique camping trip in Death Valley National Park! We will ride a chartered, air-conditioned bus to the Furnace Creek Campground (a developed campground with water, fire pits, tables and flush toilets). This tent-camping trip is for adults only who are in good health. Participants must provide their own meals and camping equipment (tent, sleeping bag, etc.). Upon registration, you will receive an e-mail confirmation and information about an optional pre-trip meeting to meet your leaders and ask questions (highly recommended for first-timers). A hand-out will also be available with suggestions about what to pack, weather, safety tips, etc. Death Valley is home to more than 1,000 plant species (including 19 that are found nowhere else in the world), at least 5 species of mammals, 36 species of reptiles, 5 species of amphibians, and 6 species of fish. Long before its famous 20-mule team wagons, Death Valley hosted 10,000 years of human history. Come make your own history with us!

Visit our Trip Rating System to determine which Backpacking Trip or Day Hike is right for you.

Bus Camping Trip - Furnace Campground

Easy, Moderate, Hard & Strenous Day Hikes

Leaders: Karen Nelson, Michelle Renaud, Oscar Brambila, John Plander

Trip Rating: A variety of difficulty from easy to strenous. Please see individual hikes below.

Each day, your leaders will offer some fascinating hiking adventures of varying difficulty levels. Since these will be on a space-available basis, sign-ups will be announced at the campground on the evening before the hike. Should you decide to lounge in camp instead, the campground offers showers, laundry facilities and a pool.


Leader: Karen Nelson, Assistant: Alice Fichandler

Trip Rating: M7A

Starting at the Golden Canyon nature trail trailhead at 160 feet below sea level, we start a fascinating journey through geologic tim e as we hike through rocks of different ages as the elevation increases then loops back down to the floor of Death Valley past borax-mine tunnels.  The first part is an educational geology nature trail. The scenery of the extended hike includes a colorful lake bed, exposed strata and alluvial-fan formations, and spectacular scenery of the Panamint Range from below Zabriskie Point.


Leader: Karen Nelson, Assistant: Alice Fichandler

Trip Rating: M4A

We begin our hike on the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, which is a fully accessible, lollipop-shaped boardwalk hike, with trailside signs providing interpretive information.  The extended hike continues up Salt Creek beyond the boardwalk. The Salt Creek pupfish, endemic to Death Valley, are the stars of this hike. The extended user trail zigzags up and down the slopes above Salt Creek.  At times the pitch is quite steep. Trekking poles can help your traction. From the high point of 13 feet below sea level, the trail drops sharply 60 feet to the mouth of a wide wash. The trail continues past a ridge, where soft sand dunes allow for a gentle perch to enjoy the view before heading back to the boardwalk by the same path.


Leader:  Michelle Renaud, Assistant: Jennifer Beckman

Trip Rating: M4B

About 5 miles south of Furnace Creek, this 4.2 mile out and back hike features beautiful wildflowers, multi colored rocks, birds, lizards, and a spectacular view at the furthest point, overlooking Artist’s Drive. We’ll leave camp in the morning with our lunch, and eat lunch at the halfway point while taking in all the views. There is a steady climb toward that halfway point with approximately an 800 foot elevation gain, returning on the same pathway on the way back. The entire hike should take us about 2-3 hours to complete.


Leader:  Michelle Renaud, Assistant: Jennifer Beckman

Trip Rating: M5B

Located about 33 miles south of Furnace Creek, this is a 5 mile out and back hike through a sandy and rocky canyon, featuring a 70 foot waterfall at the furthest point and with luck, bighorn sheep! We’ll leave the parking area and begin our trek through the sandy wash, hiking northeast toward the volcanic ash hills. Once we reach the rust-colored rhyolite walls we’ll enter the canyon and notice cooler temperatures and the sound of running water cascading over the eroding canyon floor. After 2.5 miles and about a 900 foot elevation gain, we’ll reach the 70 foot waterfall where we’ll stop for lunch before retracing our steps back out. The entire hike should take us about 3-4 hours to complete.


Leader: Leader:  Michelle Renaud, Assistant: Jennifer Beckman

Trip Rating: E4A

Located about 21 miles northwest of Furnace Creek, this 2-4 mile hike (depending on our ambitions) is an amazing opportunity to hike across and through an area of dunes that cover more than 14 square miles, the largest area of any of the seven major sand dunes in the park. It’s been described as “breath taking” and “like you are in another world”. After being dropped off at the end of Historic Stovepipe Wells Road, we’ll hike about 1 mile southward and then venture southwesterly into the dunes. Gradually we’ll trek clockwise in a giant half circle, walking toward the west, north, and finally northeast back to the trail where we began. Along the way we’ll reach some remote areas of the dunes where we can see more wildlife tracks than human tracks, at least until the wind picks up and begins shifting the sand. We’ll look for evidence of kangaroo rats, lizards, beetles, and several kinds of snakes, including sidewinder rattlesnakes. Wear your gaiters for this trek through both loose and compacted sand, and bring sunglasses and a bandana to protect your face and eyes once the winds begin to pick up. The entire hike should take about 1-3 hours to complete.


Leader:  Oscar Brambila, Assistant: Michael Taylor

Trip Rating: E5A

A mile north from Furnace Creek Visitor center, We will encounter a paved loop that takes you back in time as you learn the stories of the Death Valley Borax and the 20-Mule Teams. Through .5 mile of the hike, there will be interpretive panels that describe the borax processing and more. Then we will continue into a 5-mile out and back to the flats. This hike will confirm the harsh conditions of life and work in the valley floor. We will get to see a damp slough where groundwater percolates to the surface which causes the borate crystals. The total hike should take about 3-4 hours as we will be stopping to read about the history.


Leader:  Oscar Brambila, Assistant: Michael Taylor

Trip Rating: S13D

The hike into Fall Canyon starts with a 2.7 mile desert hike on Titus Canyon dirt road. During this portion of the hike, we will get to see the dramatic desert landscape. The road splits and the trail to Fall Canyon begins. We will continue our hike into Fall Canyon for another 3.3 miles and see how the trail converts from deep gravel, progresses into spectacular narrows and culminates at a dry waterfall. We will enjoy our lunch and hike back to the start of the trailhead. At this point, we will then hike for about half a mile into Titus Canyon. We will get to see immersive canyon calls and narrow road. We will then return back and follow Titus Canyon Road until the starting point of our hike. The total round trip hiking distance will be about 13 miles and we will be hiking at about 2 mph.


Leader:  Oscar Brambila, Assistant: Michael Taylor

Trip Rating: M5B

About 4 miles south of Furnace Creek, this 4.2 mile out and back hike features beautiful wildflowers, multi-colored rocks, possible sighting of petrified raindrops as well as local wildlife. Our hike will begin by entering into the canyon as the colorful walls quickly grow high above us. A mile into the main canyon, we will trek carefully past the 8-foot and 6-foot high dryfall. Our trip will depart in the morning and we will have our lunch halfway through our hike. The entire hike should take us about 2-3 hours to complete. This canyon also has a connection to the first Star Wars movie.


Leader:  Oscar Brambila, Assistant: Michael Taylor

Trip Rating: M6B

At the base of the Black Mountains on the east side of Death Valley National Park, we will be hiking a spectacular canyon with a gravel bottom and forty-foot stone walls on the both sides. Within the canyon walls are entrances to tight slot canyons, which we will get the opportunity to hike through. Our trip will depart in the morning and we will enjoy our lunch halfway through our hike. The entire hike should take about 3-4 hours to complete.


Leader: John Plander, Assistant: April Armijo

Trip Rating: S14E

Telescope Peak (11,050’) is the highest peak in Death Valley National Park and the Panamint Range, and the hike is a classic. The peak is snow-capped for much of the year and is visible as we enter the northwestern portion of the Park. The route is one of the few established trails in Death Valley with the demanding 13-mile trek giving up spectacular views during its 3300 cumulative feet of elevation gain. It winds through a forest of pinyon, juniper, and mahogany as it winds around Bennet and Rogers Peaks, which the most intrepid may want to climb en route to Telescope, while the others rest and enjoy the cool shade.


Leader: John Plander, Assistant: April Armijo

Trip Rating: H16D

Dramatic slots and cross-country ramble in Marble and Deadhorse Canyons of Death Valley National Park. Join a fast-paced group on this rare loop journey through deep marble slot canyons, drainages, on ridges and over dry waterfalls. This 16-mile, mostly off-trail route is often shaded by rock overhangs and high cliffs gains and loses just under 3000’. There are short stretches of moderate exposure and occasional dry waterfalls that will require helping each other to navigate them safely. Excellent fitness and sustained 2 mph pace, with short breaks and an early start is required to return before dusk. Bring a sense of adventure and leave your fear of heights at home.


Leader: John Plander, Assistant: April Armijo

Trip Rating: S7E

Today we return to classic desert peaks to climb Corkscrew Peak (5804’). Corkscrew is very steep, gaining over 3000’ in 3.5 miles with most of that in the last 2 miles. This 7-mile hike is cross-country with an occasional faint use trial. Looking at it from below, you may ask yourself “How am I going to get up there?!” The views from the summit are tremendous, an awesome reward for your effort. The approach is across a stretch of iconic Death Valley desert, through washes, and up and over ridges. The final climb of the peak will not disappoint.


Leader: John Plander, Assistant: April Armijo

Trip Rating: H6D

Rising early, we hike at sunrise from Dante's View. Traversing a 5000'+ ridgeline we quickly reach Dante's Peak and then continue North towards Mount Perry. For much of the hike we will see Telescope Peak, the highest point in the park, juxtaposed on Badwater, its lowest. The panorama from Dante's View, particularly at dawn, is considered the most dramatic sight in Death Valley by many observers. We will head towards Mount Perry for up to 2 hours on a dramatic ridgetop, with almost 360-degree views at times, but will have a strict turn-around time to get back to the campground and pack up for the bus trip home. This hike will require waking around 4 am and quickly getting ready for the 40-minute drive. The leader will make coffee for everyone, if they desire.

Space: Limited to 47 participants (including leaders and assistants)

Cost: $225

Registration Opens: Friday, February 15th at 9am

Pre-trip Meeting: March 20, 2019 at 6:30 pm at the Sierra Club San Diego Chapter Office.

Departure: April 3, 2019 at 8:30 am

Return: April 7, 2019 at approximately 8:00 pm

For more information: Please contact Pauline Jimenez, the trip coordinator.

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