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Echo Canyon Road and Needle's Eye Arch
Backroads Around Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park
Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road

Overview

Echo Canyon Road is a gravel two-track, 2WD-HC road with a firm base that runs up a broad wash, through a long narrow canyon, and then up the broad wash beyond. The road passes Needle's Eye Arch, the infamous Lee's Camp Road (which climbs over the mountains), passes the Inyo Mine Camp, and ends at a narrow spot in a canyon on the edge of the Death Valley Wilderness Area.

This road provides hiker access to various hiking destinations, including a hike through Echo Canyon to Needle's Eye Arch, hikes on miner trails at Inyo Mine, and a hike up an old railroad bed to an overlook with views into Amargosa Valley in Nevada.

Link to map.

Echo Canyon Road
Highway 190 at Echo Canyon Road (view E)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this road is entirely safe in appropriate vehicles, but be sure that your vehicle is in good working condition, carry plenty of water (radiator and drinking), pack a lunch, and drive slowly and carefully. The road to near the base of Echo Canyon usually can be navigated in a carefully driven sedan. There are small patches of loose gravel in the narrows, but the road generally is in good condition. Time changes road conditions, so always use your own good judgement.

While out, please respect the land and the other people out there, and try to Leave No Trace of your passage. This road goes into remote areas, so be sure to bring the 10 Essentials.

Echo Canyon Road
Highway 190 at Echo Canyon Road (view NE)

Getting to Echo Canyon Road

Echo Canyon Road is located in the central part of Death Valley National Park, about 2 hours northwest of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to Death Valley. From the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 0712), drive south on Highway 190 for 3.3 miles. Watch for a gravel road on the left with a small Echo Canyon sign (Site 0974). Turn here; this is the roadhead.

Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road sign (view NE)

The Road

From the pavement (Site 0974), the road runs northeast along the base of a low hill, then continues northeast across the broad, open bajada towards the mouth of Echo Canyon in the distance. In this area, the road generally is good and suitable for a carefully driven sedan; even travel trailers can be towed up the road.

By about 2 miles out, the road runs along the base of another ridge, and campsites begin to appear. These are places where drivers have pulled off the road and flattened the ground; there are no improvements of any sort, and fires are prohibited.

Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road sign: new sign says 1 mile

At about 3.4 miles out, the road enters the narrows of Echo Canyon (Site 1439). The canyon is fairly narrow in places, and the road winds back and forth until at 4.8 miles out, it reaches the Needle's Eye Arch (Site 1440), which is a hole in a thin fin of rock that juts out into the canyon forming a tight gooseneck turn. Technically, the Needle's Eye Arch is an arch, but it looks more like a hole through the rock fin. As such, the road winds around to the other side of the Eye (4.9 miles out) before continuing up the canyon.

The canyon remains narrow until about 5.5 miles out, when it passes through a tight spot and opens into a relatively broad wash.

Echo Canyon Road
Start of Echo Canyon Road (view NE)

At about 7.8 miles out, the road passes a sign indicating that the Lee's Camp Road (leading to Amargosa Valley) and Inyo Mine Camp are farther up the road. A side-road once forked to the left here, heading northeast and up the canyon to the town site of Schwaub, but that road is now closed. For drivers looking for the Lee's Camp Road, it is reasonable that they might have been confused here and accidentally turned left onto the closed road.

Staying in Echo Canyon, the road curves east and continues up a broad valley with scattered mines and prospects on both sides. At about 9.1 miles out, the road arrives at Lee's Camp Road (Site 1435) with a large triangular intersection. A road sign ("Amargosa" with an arrow) announced the turnoff, but the arrow points in the wrong direction.

Echo Canyon Road
Heading up the alluvial fan (view NE)

Lee's Camp Road is long, rough, and requires a serious 4WD vehicle (narrow wheel base with a lift kit) to drive all the way over the mountains into Amargosa Valley. However, the first 2 miles only requires a regular 4WD vehicle, and that is to get back out because of a rough, steep, rocky section that is easy to drive down. The first really bad spot is about 3 miles out. At 2 miles out, an old miner's trail leads to the backside of the Inyo Mine area (watch for a wire corral and a stone loading dock).

Continuing on Echo Canyon Road, at about 9.5 miles out, the road arrives at the Inyo Mine Camp parking area (Site 1436) on the left. A small sign reads: "Inyo Mine," and several buildings can be seen beyond. Higher on the hillside, mine tailings and additional structures can also be seen.

Echo Canyon Road
Still heading up the alluvial fan (view NE)

Beyond the mining camp, the road continues up Echo Canyon. This section is little used, narrower, and rougher, but still requires only a 2WD-HC vehicle. The road quickly passes mines and prospects leaving the mine camp area. The canyon narrows and the road winds about. At 10.9 miles out, the canyon pinches down, and in that tight spot, a wilderness boundary sign marks the end of the road (Site 1441). There is a tight turn-around loop and space for primitive camping at the end of the road.

Hikers can continue 3.2 miles into the wilderness area following the old railroad road to an overlook atop a high cliff with views into the Amargosa Valley.

Echo Canyon Road
Top of the alluvial fan (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Nearing the canyon (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Entering the canyon (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road
Nearing the Needle's Eye Arch (view N)
Echo Canyon Road
Needle's Eye Arch (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Needle's Eye Arch (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Needle's Eye Arch (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Needle's Eye Arch (view SW; looking back)
Echo Canyon Road
Continuing up Echo Canyon (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road
Nearing the last bit of narrows (5.5 miles out)
Echo Canyon Road
Exiting the Narrows (5.5 miles out); notice small arch on left
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road
Broad valley (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Sign at closed road to Schwaub townsite (about 7.8 miles out)
Echo Canyon Road
Old wooden 4x4 sign post (view E)
Echo Canyon Road
Old mine or prospect at roadside (view N)
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road at Lee's Camp Road (view SE)
Echo Canyon Road
Lee's Camp Road -- arrow is backwards! (view N)
Echo Canyon Road
Nearing Inyo Mine (view SE)
Echo Canyon Road
Inyo Mine Camp in view at left (view SE)
Echo Canyon Road
Inyo Mine Camp (view E)
Echo Canyon Road
Approaching Inyo Mine Camp parking (view E)
Echo Canyon Road
Inyo Mine Camp parking (view N)
Inyo Mine Camp
Inyo Mine Camp old mill site (view N)
Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon beyond the camp (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Narrower road (view E)
Echo Canyon Road
Tailings from an old mine (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road (view NE)
Echo Canyon Road Echo Canyon Road
Echo Canyon Road
End of the road is in sight (view E)
Echo Canyon Road
Approaching the end of the road (view E)
Echo Canyon Road
End of the road at Wilderness boundary (view E)
Echo Canyon Road
Stopping to look for wildflowers in in 2008
Echo Canyon Road
Stopping to look for wildflowers in in 2008
Echo Canyon Road
Sunset in Echo Canyon (view W)

Table 1. Highway Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site Location UTM Easting UTM Northing Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Elevation (ft) Verified
0712 Furnace Creek Visitor Center 512030 4034954 36.46159 116.86574 -186 Yes
0974 Hwy 190 at Echo Canyon Rd 515850 4032302 36.43763 116.82316 409 Yes
1435 Echo Canyon Rd at Lee's Camp Rd 525993 4038840 36.49635 116.70978 3,575 Yes
1436 Echo Canyon Rd at Inyo Mine 526606 4038513 36.49338 116.70294 3,741 Yes
1439 Mouth of Echo Canyon 520444 4034661 36.45881 116.77185 1,607 Yes
1440 Echo Canyon Rd at Needle's Eye Arch 521631 4035529 36.46661 116.75857 2,172 Yes
1441 Echo Canyon Rd End 528331 4038791 36.49583 116.68368 4,092 Yes
1442 Lee's Camp Rd at Inyo Trailhead 527424 4039854 36.50545 116.69376 3,990 Yes

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 160304

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