MARCH 23-27, 2022
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: Lynn Nebus, Tanya Ignorvate, Mike Fry, KH Chong, Ruben Garcia, Sharon Young, Alice Fichandler, Sharon Rhodes
Trip Rating: A variety of difficulty from easy to strenous.
All hikes may be altered due to leader discretion, group interest, weather, and other factors. Day hikes are limited to 15 participants (including leaders). For most hikes, transportation to and from the trail head is provided by our bus. For accessibility reasons, some hikes will have transportation provided by car or on foot. We will organize our hikes for the optimal drop off/pick up for each group.
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 stay in camp instead, you can go walk to the visitor center, restaurants or place of your choice. See below for some of the Day Hikes that will be offered.
On any day, as time permits, groups may walk over to Harmony Borax Works.
Harmony Borax Works (E3A) Extra hike, walk from campground
From Furnace Creek Campground: nearby
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.
Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, Badlands Loop (M8B) Leaders: Lynn Nebus and Tanya Ingorvate
From Furnace Creek Campground: Southeast 6 miles
Starting at iconic Zabriskie Point, we will enjoy the most popular viewpoint in the park. The route up Golden Canyon is gradually uphill through a rocky corridor of towering golden walls. We’ll add a spur trail to Red Cathedral, and finish winding through colorful badlands composed of an ancient lakebed and end up back at Zabriskie point, an ideal place for a lunch break.
Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Loop (M7B) Leaders: Mike Fry and KH Chong
From Furnace Creek Campground: South 4 miles
Starting at the Golden Canyon nature trail trailhead at 160 feet below sea level, we start a fascinating journey through geologic time 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. Includes a side-hike to Red Cathedral.
Gower Gulch Loop (M6B) Leaders: Ruben Garcia and Sharon Young
From Furnace Creek Campground: South 4 miles
Starting at the Golden Canyon nature trail trailhead at 160 feet below sea level, we start a fascinating journey through geologic time 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.
Golden Canyon Trail to Red Cathedral (M3B) Leaders: Sharon Rhodes and Alice Fichandler
From Furnace Creek Campground: South 4 miles
The first mile of the trail is a mild hike up a canyon surrounded on all sides by golden rock formations and slot canyons. After mile one reaches a junction for the Gower Gulch trail. Continue past this point into a narrow slot canyon. Some rock scrambling is required to reach the top of the slot canyon and the base of Red Cathedral. The view from the top here is spectacular!
As time permits, the Red Cathedral group will have an opportunity to go to the Natural Bridge.
Natural Bridge (E2A) Extra hike, as time permits.
From Furnace Creek Campground: South 15 miles
The trail to the Natural Bridge begins through deeply eroded volcanic ash and pumice canyon walls. The canyon gradually narrows. At 0.4 mile the bridge stretches over the canyon bottom. An ancient streambed is visible to the north of the bridge, where floods swept around this more resistant section of strata before the pothole beneath it gave way to form the natural bridge. We continue for another half mile beyond the bridge observing mud drips, slip faults, and fault caves. At the one mile point from the Natural Bridge parking area, we retrace our steps for our bus pick up.
Fall Canyon (H6D) Leaders: Lynn Nebus and Tanya Ignorvate
From Furnace Creek Campground: North 32 miles
Many hikers are drawn to Fall Canyon for the spectacular narrows. The trail runs northwest across alluvial fan deposits along the base of the towering Grapevine Mountains. We will gain 2200’ over 3 miles. Along the way, look for chuckwallas sunbathing or hiding between boulders. As we work our way up the canyon, farther into the wilderness, keep an eye out for desert bighorn sheep high upon the colorful canyon walls.
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes (E4A) Leaders: Mike Fry and KH Chong
From Furnace Creek Campground: North 24 miles (Transportation by car)
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 "breathtaking" and "like you are in another world". After parking 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.
Mosaic Canyon Trail (M4C). Leaders: Mike Fry and KH Chong
From Furnace Creek Campground: North 27 miles (Transportation by car)
Narrows, scrambling, and dry falls make this hike a memorable adventure. Mosaic Canyon is the perfect hike for geology lovers and adventure-seekers. Here, hikers are greeted almost immediately by slick, winding narrows. As you proceed up the canyon, keep an eye out for the incredible mosaic breccia for which the canyon is named.
If time permits, the leaders, Mike Fry and KH Chong, may add a surprise third hike to follow Mesquite Dunes and Mosaic Canyon..
Desolation Canyon (M4B) Leaders: Ruben Garcia and Sharon Young
From Furnace Creek Campground: South 6.2 miles
About 4 miles south of Furnace Creek, this 4.2 mile out and back hike features beautiful wildflowers, multi-colored rocks, possible sightings of petrified raindrops as well as local wildlife. Our hike will begin by entering into the canyon, the colorful walls quickly growing high above us. A mile into the main canyon, we will trek carefully past the 8 feet and 6 feet 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 1st Star Wars movie.
Salt Creek Interpretive Trail and Beyond (M4A) Leaders: Sharon Rhodes and Alice Fichandler
From Furnace Creek Campground: North 14 miles
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.
Mount Perry (H9D) Leaders: Lynn Nebus and Tanya Ignorvate
From Furnace Creek Campground: Southeast 26 miles (Transportation by car)
Our trailhead at Dante's View is a gorgeous overlook into Death Valley. The elevation of Dante’s View is 5,475 ft and the elevation of Mt. Perry is 5,716 ft. This means that most of the 2,000 ft elevation change on our hike will be due to hiking up and down the many sections of ridge between the two points. This out and back adventure will take us up and over Dante's View Peak before dropping down 700+ feet that we will need to ascend on the way back. The trail for the most part follows the ridge crest for its entirety, ensuring great views of the Badwater Basin, the vast expanse of Death Valley and across to 11,049 ft Telescope Peak and the entire length of the Panamint Mountain Range. The last few hundred feet to the summit will require some minor Class 2 scrambling along the crest. Trekking poles and hiking shoes with good traction are required.
Funeral Canyon (H7C) - Leaders: Mike Fry and KH Chong
From Furnace Creek Campground: Walk from campground
This slot canyon leaves from Texas Springs Campground. This hike is possibly the longest, narrowest, and most accessible slot canyon in Death Valley. From the day use area, hike to the wash immediately to the north. During the winter months, you'll intersect a horse trail (for horse rides from the stables at Furnace Creek Ranch) that you can follow for a mile up the wash. The horse trail starts returning to the stables at a large yellow mound. Leave the trail here and continue cross-country up the middle of the wash. You are rewarded for walking up a sandy wash with big views out over Death Valley and of Telescope Peak. From the yellow mound, it's about a mile up the wash to the mouth of the canyon. You're now 2.5 miles from the campground and the canyon walls start to narrow. There are some nice cliffs and narrows along here but it's not until you reach a fork in the main canyon 3.5 miles from the campground and turn north into the right fork (marked with a large white boulder) that you reach the truly deep and narrow slots – a section some guidebooks call The Slot. You can hike for 0.4 miles up this amazingly narrow and convoluted slot canyon before reaching Tunnel Fall, a blockage that requires some Class 4 moves to surmount. Going past this point requires skills beyond simple hiking, so this will be the turn-around point for this hike.
Willow Canyon (M5B) Leaders: Ruben Garcia and Sharon Young
From Furnace Creek Campground: South 33 miles
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.
Sidewinder Canyon (M4C) Leaders: Sharon Rhodes and Alice Fichandler
From Furnace Creek Campground: South 33 miles
This steep, rugged canyon opens to grand vistas of the floor of Death Valley. Narrow tunnels and sheer rock slots require moderate scrambling to dramatic views of Death Valley. Special attractions include several slot side canyons with natural bridges and pour-offs inviting further exploration. The canyon also lies within bighorn sheep habitat.
If time permits, the Willow Canyon and Sidewinder Canyon groups will stop at Badwater on the way back to the campground.
Badwater (E2A) Extra hike, as time permits
From Furnace Creek Campground: 19 miles south
As bleak as it looks, the popular hike onto the salt flats at Badwater is arguably the ultimate Death Valley experience. You will reach the edge of the 5-mile wide salt flats at minus 280 feet after only 0.5 mile. Here salt crystallizes when the groundwater that carries it to the earth’s surface hastily evaporates. If you sit on the salt flats, you will find yourself among tine salt pinnacles, a miniature mountainous world at the bottom of this mountainous basin.
Space: Limited to 47 participants (including leaders and assistants)
Registration Opens: Saturday January 29 at 6 am
Pre-trip Meeting: Friday March 11 at 6:30 pm on Zoom
Departure: Wednesday March 23 at 8:30 am
Return: Sunday March 27 at approximately 8:00 pm