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Titus Canyon Hiking Route
Hiking Around Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park
titus canyon
Mouth of Titus Canyon (view east from parking area)

Overview

This is one of the best easy hikes in Death Valley. The trail follows a gravel road up an amazing canyon through the layered-carbonate Grapevine Mountains. The canyon is quite narrow (about one SUV wide in places), especially for the first mile or so, and the walls are many hundreds of feet high. The walls of the canyon record a huge amount of earthquake activity (faulting, shifting, and tilting), and in places, the walls are formed from fractured rock (rubble) that was cemented back in place with a white, marble-like rock, and then water polished smooth. The grade is moderate and constant, and it is all uphill, but you can walk as far or as little as you like. While the road in the bottom of the canyon is not in wilderness, the surrounding canyon walls and mountains are included in the Death Valley Wilderness Area.

Link to map.

titus canyon
A human in the mouth Titus Canyon (view west)

Watch Out

Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this hike is pretty safe, but stay out of the canyon if it is raining or threatens to rain because of flash flood dangers. Also, watch for vehicles coming down the one-way road.

While hiking, please respect the land and the other people out there, and please try to Leave No Trace of your passage. Depending on how far you intend to hike, consider what you might want of the 10 Essentials.

titus canyon
Titus Canyon (view west down the canyon)

Getting to the Trailhead

This hike is located in Death Valley National Park, about 3.5 hours northwest of Las Vegas.

From town, drive out to Death Valley. From the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 712), drive north on Highway 190 for 17.4 miles to Scotty's Castle Road (Site 763). Turn right onto Scotty's Castle Road and drive north for 15.0 miles to the Titus Canyon turnoff (Site 761). There is a large sign at the intersection. Turn right onto Titus Canyon Road and drive east for 2.7 miles. The rocky road runs up the bajada to the parking area at the edge of the mountains. The road is a bit rough, but it is fine for all vehicles (except not trailers as there is nowhere to turn a trailer around). Stop in the parking lot just before the "one way, do not enter" sign (Site 760). The parking lot is at the end of the two-way road; the road is one-way, downhill, above this point. Park here; this is the trailhead.

titus canyon
Interesting geology. This point is near the end of the best hiking (view west).

The Hike

From the trailhead (Table 2, Waypoint 1), walk up the gravel road into the canyon. The mountains rise directly out of the parking lot, so the road immediately enters the deep, narrow canyon. Walking up the canyon, you pass through narrow areas, then the canyon will open up revealing the true height of the cliffs, all of which are amazingly twisted, folded, faulted, and water-polished. The canyon repeatedly narrows down, opens up a little, and narrows down again.

titus canyon
Farther up, the canyon is wider (view east)

About 20 minutes up the canyon, there is a washout cave on the south side of the canyon with some interesting geology (Wpt. 2). It appears that the parent material (dark gray carbonate rock) fractured into rubble with pieces of varying sizes, and then the open spaces between the fragments filled in with a white, marble-like material (calcite) that cemented all of the rubble in place. Then, low on the cliff, this rock is water polished and smooth, making for interesting patterns in the walls.

Walk up the canyon for a far as you like; the best of the lower narrows ends at about Wpt 4. When ready to head back, retrace your footprints to the trailhead. It will, however, be hard to turn back because you will forever wonder what lies around the next curve.

Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike
Titus Canyon Hike Titus Canyon Hike

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

Site # Location Latitude (N) Longitude (W) Easting Northing Elevation (ft) Verified
0712 Furnace Creek Visitor Center 36.46159 116.86574 512030 4034954 -186 Yes
0760 Titus Canyon Lower Parking 36.82199 117.17321 484552 4074937 917 Yes
0761 Scotty's Castle Rd at Titus Canyon Rd 36.78771 117.19063 482991 4071137 169 Yes-2
0763 Hwy 190 at Scotty's Castle Rd 36.63910 117.03531 496843 4054636 104 Yes-2

Table 2. Hiking Coordinates Based on GPS Data (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Hiking GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Wpt. Location Easting Northing Elevation Verified
01 Trailhead 484552 4074938 917 GPS
02 Interesting Geology 485380 4074880 1,000 GPS
03 Canyon opens briefly 485892 4074988 1,283 GPS
04 End of first narrows 486983 4074741 1,586 GPS
05 End of my trail 487743 4075009 1,808 GPS

Happy Hiking! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
copyright; Last updated 130211

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