» 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.
|Dist (mi)||Elev (ft)|
|Parking area / mouth||0.0 miles||950 ft|
|1st narrows (head)||0.1 miles||~ 1000 ft|
|1st narrows (end)||0.5 miles||1180 ft|
|Side canyon #2 / rim trail||0.9 miles||1340 ft|
|2nd narrows (start)||1.1 miles||1480 ft|
|2nd narrows (end at 18-ft fall)||1.4 miles||1680 ft|
|Side canyon 3#||1.6 miles||1790 ft|
|3rd narrows (25-ft fall)||1.7 miles||1920 ft|
|3rd narrows (end) / rim trail||2.1 miles||2080 ft|
|Fork (side canyon #4)||2.2 miles||2150 ft|
|Grotto||2.5 miles||2440 ft|
The table above is borrowed from 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. Mosaic Canyon has three sets of narrows and two dry falls. Most people turn back from either the first or the second dry fall. For a truly awesome experience, one should study Digonnet's book which describes how to bypass both of these dry falls and reach a grotto with a 40-ft ceiling. If you follow this route, the whole character of your experience shall change!
Notes: The steep trail that bypasses the 25-ft fall was intermittently faint. We were persistent and cairns placed by previous hikers assured us that we were on the right track. This steep trail is not for beginners: scrambling was necessary at two points. Good gloves are recommended because the rocks are hard and abrasive. Once on the Rim Trail, the going became easy. Rim Trail is well graded and runs parallel to the main valley floor. In its way back, it ends in a side canyon from where you have to walk a short distance to enter the main canyon (details in Digonnet's book).