|  Home |  Canada Trips |  US Trips |  Hiking |  Snowshoeing |  MAP |  About

Artist’s Dips Canyon
Death Valley, California
April 13, 2018

Distance: 6.2 km (3.9 mi)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 223 m (732 ft

When we drove to Death Valley, we were dead set on climbing Coffin Mountain, so when we discovered the access road was closed, we were caught flatfooted: we had no backup plan.

Since we had no idea what to do, we drove to the visitor centre in Furnace Creek. After browsing through a few guidebooks, we found a nearby hike that looked short but interesting. We bought the book and drove to the starting point on Artist Drive.

Artist Drive passes Artist Palette, a colourful volcanic area that attracts tourists, but our hike began a few kilometres south. The guidebook calls the hike “Artist's Dips,” which isn't very informative so I added “Canyon.” Actually, the hike comprises two canyons that merge downstream: hike down one canyon, turn right, and hike up the other. A short section of paved road completes the loop. Signs on the road warn of dips where the road crosses two washes. These are the entrances that lead to the two canyons. We parked at a pullout between the dips.

We walked south down the road and entered a wash at the south dip. As we hiked down the wash, the sides rose and the floor narrowed to form a canyon. Where the first canyon converges with the second, I stopped to take a panorama. Then we turned right and followed the second canyon to the road. Both canyons exhibit a pleasing variety of scenery and colours.

After completing the hike, we got back in our car and drove to Artist's Palette. Photos on the Internet would have you believe the slopes are bursting with brilliant colours. In fact, those photos have been doctored, the colours exaggerated. In reality, the pinks, greens and purple appear pale. And while it's a worthwhile stop, we had a far better experience hiking Artist’s Dips.

KML and GPX Tracks

Starting down the wash

Looking back

Curiously, we came across broken pavement, the remains of an old road

The wash begins to narrow ahead

Entering the canyon

Telescope Peak still has snow

The sides of the canyon were mostly hard dirt rather than rock

At times the canyon walls rose high above us

The canyon snakes for a short distance

The canyon forks ahead

Where the two canyons merge, one can see clear down to Badwater Basin. It's time to turn right.

We started up the ascent canyon

The canyon narrows

We easily climbed the highest dry falls on the route

The walls here are streaked with a different colour of dirt

Dinah scrambles up another short dry fall

We marvelled at rocks that seemed to have little holding them in place in this wall

Looking back at the wall with loose rock

Dark rock lines a side canyon

This stunted, broken tree apparently survived repeated floods

While all other plants in the canyon appeared dead or clinging to life, this one was thriving

Coming to the end of our canyon walk

Looking back

Back on the road

It's a 500-metre walk back to our car

Artist's Palette

Devil's Golf Course (3.9 mi, 230 ft, 673 ft)

U.S. Trips | Home