GPS Coordinates: 36.56803, -117.13764 (36°34’04.9″N 117°08’15.5″W)
In Death Valley National Park, you will find an interesting variety of land formations. Mosaic Canyon is one of those places that truly lives up to its name or named appropriately because of the formation.
As the name goes, Mosaic Canyon is a fine mixture of the specimen of smooth marble and tiny angular fragments of various types of parent rock locked within a natural cement.
The trail leading into the canyon is roughly a 4-mile round trip. It could easily take about 2 to 3 hours to complete the loop, depending on your hiking skills and pace. Here you will see interesting rock formation, of different shapes size and curves, all mixed together naturally to form many interesting patterns.
It’s just a short walk from the parking lot to the lower Mosaic Canyon. The hike for 0.25 miles in this part of the canyon is spectacular. Here, you will see smooth marble canyon walls waving through that leads you to an amphitheater-like opening. Here is where most of the visitors will turn back.
For those adventure seekers who seek “the road less traveled”, the Upper Mosaic Canyon trail starts from here for about another 1.3 miles. A steep footpath continues on the left side of the opening. This will take you to a much wider cross country style path across a massive gravel wash. This them leads onto the canyon trail which then narrows again and ends in a 20-foot dry fall. You will have to pass through the bolder jams to get to the dry falls.
If you have fear of heights, you might want to turn around when you hit the bolder jam. Here is where the canyon walls present more of the “Mosaic Breccia” the canyon is named after.
You can continue further up for about 0.3 miles through the west side to the top of the falls to reach the third set of narrows. Here is where the trail becomes less passable. Further up the canyon, as the passage becomes narrower and is filled with contorted, polished surface that will make the hike challenging as you reach the end of the trail. If you managed to pass through all these hurdles, you will be rewarded with another vertical dry fall which is about 7.6 meters tall with a dramatic view.
Best Time to Visit / Photograph
This trail is a designated wilderness so it’s open only during the summer times and not throughout the year. Check at the Visitors Center or ask any of the park rangers. Best time to visit is anytime during the day.
This is mostly a hiking trail and you will find numerous attractions and subjects to photograph along the canyon and canyon walls. Keep your backpack or your camera bag as light as possible as you will have to navigate through slippery slopes to access certain areas in the trail.
Recommended Camera Gear
- Digital Camera with Ultra Wide or Normal to Mid-Range Zoom Lens or a Macro lens
- Cable shutter release or Remote Shutter Release
- Steady Tripod or a portable small tripod/ Gorillapod
- High powered flashlight for light painting and regular night time use
- A GPS trail tracker to track your path and location
How to get there
Take the 2.3 miles unpaved Mosaic Canyon Road, located in Stovepipe Wells Village, just across from Stovepipe Wells Campground.
From Furnace Creek, drive Northwest on HWY 190 for about 27 miles, you will pass through Stovepipe Wells campground and immediately to your left, you will see the Mosaic Canyon Road.
Place to Stay
The nearest camping site is at Stovepipe Wells. There is also a motel nearby.
Other amenities include two restaurants, a general purpose store, and a gas station.
Pictorial Highlights from this place…