Death Valley Mosaic Canyon Trail Death Valley National Park hike

Walled with both mosaic conglomerates and smooth marbleized rocks, Mosaic Canyon is a fine specimen the geology of Death Valley National Park. From the parking lot at the mouth of the canyon, it is just a short walk into lower Mosaic Canyon. Hike up this slender slot between wavy white walls. Run your hands across the smooth stone and let the calming canyon surround you.

After less than half a mile, the canyon opens up to an expansive gravel wash. This marks the top of the lower canyon and the end of the most impressive part of the trail. Many visitors simply turn around right here, making Mosaic a brief but beautiful excursion.

Death Valley Mosaic Canyon
Mosaic Canyon

Those in favor of the early turnaround, but interested in a little time out of the canyon, can take the “road less traveled” back to the trailhead. A steep footpath climbs the ridge to the left of the wide opening. Above the canyon, the path offers a wide view of the center of Death Valley National Park. From there, one can continue downhill and cross-country back to the trailhead.

Death Valley Mosaic Canyon
Looking back on the top of Lower Mosaic Canyon

For those with energy left in their legs, Mosaic Canyon continues beyond the lower canyon. Head uphill across the massive gravelly wash. After a distance of roughly half a mile, the massive wash narrows again. Here the canyon walls present more of the “mosaic breccia” conglomerate rocks that the canyon is name for. Boulders across the canyon provide fun and easy obstacles, until they give way to a 20-foot dry falls. This is the second popular turnaround point, but footpaths along the western slope make it possible to get to the top of the dry falls and farther up the canyon (which eventually becomes less passable).

Mosaic Canyon is frequently recommended to new visitors by park rangers, which means it is frequently crowded. Nevertheless, it is an interesting canyon, and even the short version of this hike is quite enjoyable. It is four miles to the dry falls and back with 750 feet of elevation gain.

To get to the trailhead: From Furnace Creek, take Highway 190 northwest for 27 miles. Pass through the small resort hamlet of Stovepipe Wells and turn left up Mosaic Canyon Road. Take this well-maintained dirt road 2 miles to the trailhead.

Trailhead address: Mosaic Canyon Road, Death Valley National Park, CA 92328
Trailhead coordinates: 36.570411, -117.143455 (36° 34′ 13.47″N 117° 08′ 36.43″W)

Trail Map
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Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.


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These photos were taken in January of 2009 and November of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails
Grotto Canyon Death ValleyGrotto Canyon
This 2 to 4 mile hike requires a bit of climbing and is a lesser-visited trail in Death Valley.
sand dune hikeMesquite Flat Sand Dunes
This 1 + mile hike explores the most visible (but not the largest) sand dunes in Death Valley.
Darwin FallsDarwin Falls
This 2-mile hike visits a refreshing year-round waterfall on the western edge of Death Valley.
Wildrose PeakWildrose Peak
This 8.4-mile hike summits a 9,064-foot peak in the Panamint Mountains north of Telescope Peak.
hike Death ValleyDeath Valley
Explore more destinations in Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley CampingDeath Valley Campgrounds
Nine campgrounds are spread throughout this large park to facilitate your visit.
OK! Add to trails I’ve hiked
OK! Add to trails I want to hike
Tagged with · Desert Canyons · National Parks
Distance: 4 miles · Elevation change: 750 feet

9 Comments on Mosaic Canyon in Death Valley National Park

  1. Death Valley national park says:

    Death Valley National Park has more than 3.3 million acres of spectacular desert scenery, interesting and rare desert

    is Thorndike Campground.
    If you want a fine time in the great outdoors just come on up to the Panamint Range. Fun activities are abundant; there’s always something to suit everyone. During the days of summer highs here at Death Valley National Park reach the 90’s; throughout

  2. […] Once I reached the death Valley basin to join them we hit the ground running. We hiked Mosaic Canyon […]

  3. robert says:

    Looking for relatively easy backpack hikes that provide good camping spots in Death Valley. We camped part way up Fall canyon last year and hiked the canyon as a day hike. That was pretty cool. Any suggestions for other hike/camp ideas?

  4. […] day, another canyon to explore. Mosaic Canyon is well-known; a canyon, we were told, not to miss. We took the 3-mile-long gravel road up the […]

  5. Deanna Schmitz says:

    Hi, we are looking for easy fairly flat hikes this spring,for the day or back pack camping. Also where is the best lodging/camping? Thank you!! Deanna

  6. […] second destination was The Mosaic Canyon. A water-polished marble canyon. Nature’s geological museum. This place was great for both […]

  7. Brittany says:

    Great parking space available for both small cars and large campers. The kids loved it here.

  8. […] for taking those high-contrast pictures of the dune crescents. Right next to Stovepipe Wells is Mosaic Canyon, 2.4 miles drive on an unpaved road, then a 4-mile hike round trip. It was on our to do list, but […]

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