Hike Darwin Falls ~ Death Valley

“Punctuated with idyllic waterfalls and irrigated by a lovely perennial creek, the deep narrows of Darwin Canyon are among the most lush and beautiful in the park. The short walk to the lower waterfall is a wonderful illustration of the miracle of water in the desert. The challenging climb through the serene upper narrows to China Garden Spring is a gem for the experienced hiker.”
~from Michel Digonne’s Hiking Death Valley  

Lower Darwin Falls
Lower Darwin Falls

My Death Valley adventure continued with Wired into Darwin Canyon. Drop n’ Roll traveled back in the evening to Lone Pine after climbing Telescope Peak. Wired and I spent the night at Emigrant Campground enjoying cooking dinner under the night stars and sharing trail stories with two class of 2012 PCT hikers. Such a great community.

We headed out early morning for a quick exploration of the canyon.

Hiking to the lower falls is easy, flat with straight forward navigation. The fun begins after leaving the first falls with ledges and talus to scale. The guidebook description was very helpful and the upper section is not for those afraid of heights, but so worth it.

In my book, scrambling up and around Darwin Falls IS a must do when visiting Death Valley National Park.

TRIP DATE November 29, 2014
LENGTH About 2 1/2 miles round trip
ELEVATION GAIN Less than 700 feet
TRAIL HEAD  1 mile west of Panamint Springs, then 2.5 miles on graded road
DIFFICULTY Difficult with some ledge and class 3 climbing
PERMIT None required
BEST TIME TO HIKE Spring, fall, and winter
GUIDE Hiking Death Valley by Michel Degonnet pages 505-510


Maneuvering the ledges
Maneuvering the ledges
Rockin' overlooking upper falls
Rockin’ overlooking upper falls



Wired climbing the loose talus
Wired climbing the loose talus


Amazing small pool above the falls
Amazing small pool above the falls



  1. Looks amazing. Only recently did I become aware of Death Valley’s canyons. Have you tried any technical canyoneering in the area?

  2. That upper falls photo is amazing.

  3. I like that you’re including the gpx files in your posts. Welcome back to the blogging world. You’ve been missed!

    • Thank you! It has been a fun week and not as painful as I thought it would be. It does help that folks like yourself have been so kind and supportive. Ah you noticed about the gpx. I Love it. I am such a visual person and have to see it on a map to get the gist of a trip report. Moab is going to be great!

  4. Really beautiful photos. And so cool to see the adventure continue with long time friends. -Getting near Christmas, so a Merry one’ to you!

    • Thank you Warren. And thank you for all the time and thought you put into each and every one of your comments. I so appreciate you. Hope you are spending the holidays doing what you love. Merry Christmas.

  5. That first image is spectacular (they’re all good but the first one stands out). Are you still using the Sony RX100? Nice wide angle shot there.

    • I am using my Lumix LX5 and Gopro on these photos. My Sony RX100 is in the shop to be cleaned. Backpacking is very hard on cameras, especially when a hiker repeatedly drops cameras on rock and into the water. 🙂

      • Are you using the GoPro for still photography or video?

        • I been using the GoPro for stills mostly. It is easy to use and gives a new perspective with the wide angle. I have taken video but have not done any editing with it. It is a whole other world. I do love that the Gopro has bluetooth and transfers photos easily to the iPhone to post to Instagram and such, but has a lot of limitations for landscape shots.

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