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winter backpacking in Death Valley?
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pardees parvin
(backpackingdude) - F
winter backpacking in Death Valley? on 11/30/2010 02:40:01 MST Print View

I've noticed there aren't any detailed Death Valley trip reports on here, so I'm curious if anyone here has backpacked in the area and what their general thoughts were. I'm considering doing a trip down there in Late December or Early January. Specifically looking into the cottonwood canyon/marble canyon loop, but open to other ideas. Since I haven't been to DV, I wouldn't want to attempt anything longer than 30-40 miles just quite yet.

I'd spend an extra day or two after 3 or so days backpacking just to explore death valley.

This would be my first desert backpacking trip, though I have some experience backpacking in the sierra.

basically taking any advice, suggestions, and interested in hearing about your own trips into DV. I'll refine my questions as the thread progresses...

Edited by backpackingdude on 11/30/2010 02:42:12 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Cottonwood Canyon on 11/30/2010 07:53:32 MST Print View

I did the Cottonwood Canyon/Marble Canyon two years ago in March. It was supposed to be a two day but it is very easy miles and I ended up day hiking it. I was pleasantly surprised at the terrain, it was more varied than I expected. I would definitely give this a try.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: winter backpacking in Death Valley? on 11/30/2010 13:51:18 MST Print View

In my opinion, the best time of the year to do this is around March 15. The first of the wildflowers are up then. Even in places like Cottonwood and Marble Canyons, there are nice flowers. Make sure that you stop off to photograph the petroglyphs during the middle of the day.


pardees parvin
(backpackingdude) - F
Thanks on 12/03/2010 03:03:11 MST Print View

I might just take your advice on waiting until march- wouldn't mind that extra two hours of sunlight either.

Edited by backpackingdude on 12/03/2010 03:06:14 MST.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: winter backpacking in Death Valley? on 12/03/2010 03:24:02 MST Print View

I was just deciding whether to go to death valley tomorrow or not. I think that the issue pertains more to what are the backpacking opportunities in the park period. Virtually everything is waterless, and only the cottonwood loop and Telescope Peak are common backpacking trips. Plus, during winter, high peaks likely have snow, preventing travel for some.

I think that it's best to head to slots at this time of year. There are many.

For the next six days, I decided to head east to the Escalante region, where it's even more winter.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: winter backpacking in Death Valley? on 12/03/2010 12:37:22 MST Print View

Most people assume that Death Valley is waterless.

Well, it is and it isn't. I've seen a couple of feet of water standing over Badwater in a lake stretching for miles, but that is unusual. For much of the year, the tourist spots of the place are awfully dry and hot. However, if you read the guidebooks and pick the right season, it can be very interesting.

We've done Telescope Peak the hard way, starting from Shorty's Well, but that was a long dayhike. The key feature is the Hanaupah Spring, which has the highest water flow rate of any spring in the park. The good news is that NPS does not require any backpacking or wilderness permits. I think there is a voluntary register, and that's all.


Backpack Jack
(jumpbackjack) - F

Locale: Armpit of California
Desert hike on 12/09/2010 22:34:44 MST Print View

Not trying to highjack the thread, but this question is for Bob, or any one else. A few of us are planning a trip to Dove Springs in the Mojave desert next weekend, not sure where to hike to or what to expect, 1st time desert hiking, any ideas would be helpful. We are going to try out some new gear and I don't want to just stay in camp, would like to hike at least 6-10 miles. Thanks Jack