Fall Canyon
8.8 miles     1800 ft
23 Dec 2011

“You can't go wrong with Fall Canyon. It is easily accessed, easy to walk, and one of the two or three most consistently deep and narrow canyons in the park. Its majestic cliffs and winding corridors are likely to inspire even the most seasoned desert hiker.” — Michel Digonnet.

Location: Death Valley National Park

Elevation Profile

Notes: The GPS traces were noisy because of poor reception inside the canyon.

Trip Planning

Trail Maps

» Official State Parks Map: A decent map that shows major roads, attractions and visitor centers.

» Death Valley Backcountry Roads: Official State Parks Map showing backcountry roads

» Hiking Death Valley: A Guide to Its Natural Wonders and Mining Past (542 pages, 2004) by Michel Digonnet: This book is the Bible for Death Valley hikes. Most hikes in Death Valley are cross-country, marked by cairns. This book describes dozens of such routes with maps and elevation profiles.

The route is well described in the book Hiking Death Valley: A Guide to Its Natural Wonders and Mining Past (542 pages, 2004) by Michel Digonnet, a Stanford Professor who has extensively hiked in Death Valley over the last thirty years.

0.9 miles to mouth of canyon: Follow a clearly marked trail that starts from the left of the restroom at the trail head. After 0.9 miles, the trail enters the wash of Fall Canyon.

2.5 miles to 18-ft dry fall: Very quickly upon entering Fall Canyon, one is greeted with high walls on both sides. In 2.5 miles, there is an 18-ft dry fall that may be bypassed by a short trail on the south side (if you're facing the fall, the trail would be on your right), about 300 feet before the fall. A class 4 climb up a short chimney, followed by some steep sections lead you to a point right beyond the dry fall. In Dec 2011, four of us were able to negotiate the climb comfortably without any climbing equipment. The best part of the narrows inside Fall Canyon lies beyond the 18-ft dry fall. So making the effort to negotiate the bypass is really worthwhile.

0.9 miles to end of narrows: This section of Fall Canyon is especially beautiful with the tightest of winding narrows. The canyon actually continues all the way to Wahguyhe Peak for a 15-mile one-way hike. See Digonnet's book for details. However, about 0.9 miles beyond the 18-ft dry fall, the canyon opens up. This is a good point to turn back for a very satisfying hike.


Location: on Titus Canyon Rd in Death Valley, CA . No street address. Parking area is not visible in Google Maps.

Directions: From Hwy 190, take Scotty's Castle Road going north for 14.9 miles. Turn right onto Titus Canyon Rd, which does not require a 4 wheel drive vehicle. A regular vehicle with sufficient clearance suffices. I drove in a Toyota Camry in Dec 2011. After driving for 2.7 miles along Titus Canyon Rd, you shall reach a small parking lot and a restroom. The trail to Fall Canyon is to the left of the restroom.

Google Maps:

Parking Fees: None (last visited: Dec 2011)

Capacity: About 10 cars

Latitude: 36.821979     Longitude: -117.173996

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