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Lower Marble Canyon - DVNP, CA

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Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List CA > Death Valley
4 of 5 by 3
Canyons are inherently risky. Flash floods occur without notice on sunny days. Technical skills & surrounding topography knowledge required yet does not eliminate risk.
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Distance One Way 3.2 miles
Trailhead Elevation 1,808 feet
Elevation Gain 843 feet
Accumulated Gain 875 feet
Kokopelli Seeds 6.12
Interest Off Trail Hiking
Dogs not allowed
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
Inaugural Calculation on Button Tap!
18  2010-02-13 gpsjoe
20  2010-02-13 Grasshopper
74  2010-02-12
Death Valley
Author HAZ_Hikebot
author avatar Guides 16,882
Routes 16,052
Photos 24
Trips 1 map ( 6 miles )
Age 22 Male Gender
Location TrailDEX, HAZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Nov, Jan, Feb, Mar
Sun  5:31am - 5:58pm
Official Route
1 Alternative

Overview: Located in the southwestern Cottonwood Mountains resides this popular canyon for pic taking, day hikeing, and backpacking. If you like marble, narrows, rock art, or all, put Marble Canyon high on your list. It is claimed that the ancient petroglyphs that adorn the canyon walls (both on the drive in and hike) rank among the most elaborate and extensive in all of Death Valley. As of this writing for my posted trip log dated 2/13/10, our hiking group only viewed a couple of petroglyph panels located ~2.0mls to 2.2mls in at way point N36.60982 W-117.34316;

This hike description takes you through the most scenic Lower Marble Canyon Narrows #1 & #2 (ending at 1.6 miles in). There are actually three narrows, the 3rd starting at 4.0 miles in. We hiked in to a stopping point at 3.2 miles in. Unless you are planning a backpack trip through this 10.7 mile canyon to end at Goldbelt Spring- Camp/Road, I recommended that you day hike in to the above mentioned petroglyph panel site and then turn back.

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2018-07-14 HAZ_Hikebot
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Reviews
    Lower Marble Canyon - DVNP
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Located in the southwestern Cottonwood Mountains of Death Valley National Park resides this popular canyon for a scenic drive-in, pic taking, easy day hiking, and backpacking. If you like marble, colorful geology, narrows, rock art, or all, put Marble Canyon high on your list.

    This was Joe and my second full day of a planned seven days in DVNP. Randal and Mike had just arrived the night before. Due to significant rains in the park over the past three weeks found us needing to shuffle day outing around due to so many closed access roads within DVNP. Marble Canyon access from the Stovepipe Wells area of DVNP was open and from a previous years visit, I knew would be a good choice this day for us all to enjoy.

    My hike description and our hike takes you through the most scenic Lower Marble Canyon Narrows #1 & #2 (ending at 1.6 miles in). We continued hiking past a couple of interesting petroglyph panels located ~2.0mls to 2.2mls in at way point N36.60982 W-117.34316; Unless doing a through canyon backpack trip, we recommend you day hike to this petroglyph panel site and then turn back. This will allow you to enjoy other late afternoon activities in and around the Stovepipe Wells area of DVNP.
    Lower Marble Canyon - DVNP
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Death Valley February 2010

    Friday 2/12 - 7am rendezvous @ Chez Schulhauser. Furnace Creek Ranch cabin. Hank & Joe @ 7pm for dinner.

    Saturday 2/13 - Trail Canyon day hike. Ghost towns and mining relics. Camp in Trail Canyon. Camping restrictions? Camp fire restrictions?

    Sunday 2/14 - Eureka Singing dunes hiking. Scotty's Castle. Camp @ Eureka Dunes Dry Camp.

    Monday 2/15 - The Racetrack. Homestake Dry Camp

    Tuesday 2/16 - head home?

    Mike -> 3x breakfast
    Randal -> 3x dinner

    Lunch will be hiking snacks


    This was a trek at least 6 months in the making, having had my first "taste" of Death Valley when we skirted the Panamints on our return from climbing Mount Whitney (see and ). Letty's recent triplog, photos, and insightful PM's only made us drool in anticipation. My 25th work anniversary year is rewarded with a 1 week bonus vacation and I earmarked it for this trek. Well 1391 road miles, 19 hiking miles, 616 photos and 5 days later, here's the scoop...

    Day 1 - Friday February 12th, 2010
    Day starts with a 7am phone call from Mike Mattes. He's lost in the twisted maze of Ahwatukee trying to find my house. I guide him on the cell phone to my doorstep, load up his modified Jeep Wrangler and we are off! We decide to avoid rush hour traffic by looping south towards Gila Bend and up to Wickenburg via Vulture Mine Road. Plan seem to be working fine as we pull onto US93 heading northwest towards Las Vegas NV without any traffic delays. We pass the anomalous forest of Joshua Trees. A sudden "PING" sound punctuates the air and I ask "What's that?". At the same time we pass a sign indicating Wikieup 41 miles, Mike says, "That's my low gas indicator and we have 30 miles driving range left". Yikes! Drastically dropping our speed and with a few uphill anxious moments, Mike is able to guide the sputtering Jeep into the first gas station sighted in Wikieup. We pump 14.9 gallons into the Jeep's 15 gallon tank. Let's just say that increased vigilance to our half tank rule on unknown routes has been invoked... To help settle Mike's nerves, we grab a burger from the "Eat at Joe's BBQ" . I make a couple of cell calls checking up on my Dad (released from hospital earlier that day having had a cardiac procedure the day before). He picked up the phone at home so he's mobile and I'd call it a "best case" scenario. Back on the road we soon join some traffic at Boulder Dam. My first visit to the area so I went into "tourist mode". I hopped out of the Jeep and walked most of the way while Mike did the stop-and-go thing through the traffic jam. Quick comment - the new arch bridge looks like it will be a design engineering masterpiece. Know many others will think it is a pox on the landscape (and John McCain was on the local radio declaring it "A bridge to nowhere"), but I think "it works"... Onto Vegas and an exit via US95. Believe it or not, but this is my first "non-airport layover" visit to Vegas. I'm surprised by the snowy peaks, local ski resorts, and preponderance of Joshua Trees. With PM warnings of $4 per gallon gas in DVNP, we gas up at the intersection of NV373 and US95. Interesting business combination of gas station and brothel (I'll hold onto the Cherry Patch II photos for future blackmailing...). We soon pull into the Furnace Creek Ranch ... -1223.html parking lot at "ground minus 200" in Death Valley National Park. Suddenly our $226 per night room seems like a bargain as multiple people are turned away at the reception desk due to "No Vacancy". We pull up to our room in the 900 block and see Hank and Joe in the parking lot. Hank starts to give us the "data dump" on multiple closures in the park due to flooding. West Side Road is closed so there's no access to Trail Canyon, Racetrack Valley Road is closed so there's no access to the Racetrack, no data on Eureka Dunes. Over dinner we hear some alternate plans pitched - Marble Canyon on Saturday and hold off on Trail Canyon until Monday with fingers crossed that West Side Road will be dried and opened. Sounds like a plan!

    Day 2 - Saturday February 13th, 2010
    6am wake-up call to room 936 in Furnace Creek Ranch. $12.95 removed from our pockets by the Xanterra Pirates to attend the breakfast buffet. Mike and I arrive at the morning rendezvous spot at 7:35am and we're given a hard time for being 5 minutes late... Hank and Joe lead the way towards Stovepipe Wells and the doubletrack heading towards Marble Canyon. As we bounce our way towards the TH, I'm scouting out an unexpected sight - Mesquite Dunes. We soon bend into a gap in the mountain wall which surprisingly continues to an inner basin area. The trail splits to the south for Cottonwood Canyon Road whereas the trail heading west is Marble Canyon Road. You even have a street sign indicating this remote intersection! A barrier sign marks the end of our 4WD trek and we hop out to start our hike. First narrows, the chokestone, second narrows, and third narrows as described in our Digonnet's "Hiking Death Valley" ... 0965917800 . I begin to doubt Digonnet's claim that "Marble Canyon is blessed with more petroglyph sites than any other canyon in the park". As I blurt that out Mike points out our first rock art panel. We break for lunch about 3.25 miles up canyon before the fourth narrows. A little exploration after lunch and we head back to the trail head. Mike and I opt for a late afternoon visit to Mesquite Dunes - an unexpected delight even with the human population explosion scurrying like ants over multiple anthills. This is like a trip to the beach! We meet up with Joe and Hank again to be guided to our evening camp in Echo Canyon. A traditional camp dinner of dogs and beans with some beverages of choice and Mike and I retreat to our tents calling it an early star-filled night...

    Day 3 - Sunday February 14th, 2010
    Up at mornings' first light and Mike prepares a hot camp breakfast. We soon pack up our Echo Canyon Camp in anticipation of setting up in Trail Canyon later that day. Zabriskie Point is the first destination to catch some morning light off Manly Beacon. A music video shoot is in progress attracting a curious crowd. Can't say I recognized the musician... A second stop in Furnace Creek for gasoline and Valentine's Day phone calls back home to our wives. Zero cell phone coverage in Death Valley, so a pay phone at the General Store is our only option. We check out the Borax Museum - a treasure trove of local history. With conflicting reports about Racetrack Valley Road closure, we head Mike's Jeep up towards the Grapevine/Scotty's Castle area. Signage along the route warns us of the road closure, but the barriers are all open. Racetrack Valley Road has some washouts, but no issue for the lifted Jeep. Death Valley is always full of surprises - lava and cinder fields around Ubehebe Crater, a Joshua Tree forest near Tin Mountain Gap, and eclectic Teakettle Junction. Top it all off with a walk on the moon at Racetrack Playa. The playa has dried out so no risk of muddy footprints. I find the spot for Hommage de Shellye Poster ... dp_product . I crisscross the playa multiple times - I'm stunned... With the sun starting to get low we hit the road towards West Side Road and Trail Canyon. We arrive at the intersection of Badwater Road and West Side Road to have our fears realized - the road closure barrier is still up! With our planned Monday morning 7:30am rendezvous with Hank and Joe at our Trail Canyon Camp now a washout, Mike and I head over to Furnace Creek Ranch to deliver the news and leave Joe's radio at the front desk with Raul. Always have a back-up plan. Ours is re-establish Camp Echo Canyon in the Funeral Mountains and go explore the upper canyon ghost towns and Lee mining district. Ravioli and a French loaf console our disappointment...

    Day 4 - Monday February 15th, 2010
    Mike cooks up some chocolate chip pancakes and bacon to start the day. A prickly pear vodka and O.J. to open the eyes. We leave our tents up at Camp Echo Canyon and head up towards Inyo Mine and ghost town . We explore multiple satellite mines and continue up the 4WD path to the Lee mining district. We locate the drag cable to the Furnace Mine site. The pristine mining relics and smelting furnace was worth the steep climb up to the Furnace Mine site. After a late lunch we head into town for a couple of trivial supplies (paper towels and Doritos) and the Keane Wonder Mine site . A late afternoon trek into Golden Canyon and beyond to Manly Beacon and an aborted climb to Zabriskie Point ... l-map.html . Heading back to Camp Echo Canyon we catch the Eye-of-the-Needle sunset shadow. Evening camp meal of chili and dogs and it's time to call it a night.

    Day 5 - Tuesday February 16th, 2010
    We have a return route plotted from Furnace Creek to Badwater to Shoshone to Mohave National Park to Joshua Tree National Park dumping onto the I-10 for a straight shot east to Phoenix. After gassing up in Furnace Creek, we capture plenty of reflection images off the flooded saltflats near Badwater. As we exit DVNP near Shoshone, I'm feeling satisfied that our Plan "B" delivered just as much as our Plan "A" promised. Mother Nature wreck our DVNP trek? Never! On CA127 towards Baker we "discover" the Dumont Dunes . Cross over the I-15 and into the Mohave National Preserve . The Lava Beds and Kelso Dunes are interesting, but slightly imperfect bordered by hydro right-of-ways and railroad mainlines. An old section of Route 66 comprises part of the connection between Mohave and Joshua Tree. Commercial table salt operations are a curious sight. At Twenty-Nine Palms we enter Joshua Tree National Park . There's plenty of eye candy here from the whimsical (Skull Rock) to the fascinating (Joshua Tree forests). Onto the I-10 and I take over the driving chores until we reach our Valley homes.

    Final Thoughts
    Racetrack Playa was by far my Death Valley highlight. The diversity of DVNP attractions is the big takeaway. And the pristine appearance (nary a piece of trash found anywhere in the park) a pleasant bonus. And a trivia factoid - a GPS can't record an elevation below sea level. I'm sure Mohave National Preserve has some hidden attractions, but we didn't get any hint during our traverse. Joshua Tree National Park has a smorgasbord of potential and it will get a return visit some day soon!

    Helpful Death Valley Backroads Map contained in this Forum thread => viewtopic.php?t=4754 :)

    Thanks again to Hank and Joe for their help with some of the planning logistics. And special thanks to Mike for being my "ride". His Jeep certainly has backcountry capability beyond my F-150! :D

    Permit $$

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To canyon trip
    From Stovepipe Wells, CA: On SR190 through this small town in DVNP, "to the left" of the Stovepipe Wells Campground entrance, turn north on to Cottonwood Canyon Road (way point N36.60590 W-117.14758); Continue on this primitive road for ~8.6+ miles until it veers northwest (left turn); From here the road continues up Cottonwood Wash heading west then south for ~2.2 miles to the easy to miss intersection with Lower Marble Canyon west(right turn at small street type sign); Continue west, then south for ~2.6 miles into the beginning of the first narrows of Lower Marble Canyon and Parking/TH Start at way point: N36.61876 W-117.33049 (Also see GPS Route Driving Directions posted to this Hike Description);
    page created by Grasshopper on Feb 22 2010 5:32 pm
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