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Boulder, CO

A guide to the wilderness of the West.

Death Valley & Sinkyone


Death Valley & Sinkyone

Derek Bartz

Another week on the road with Joe C prior to heading to up to the Olympic Peninsula.  Our initial goal was to head back to the desert for some canyons in Zion/Escalante; but cold, wet weather crossing the Colorado Plateau wasn't what we had in mind.  Instead we made a quick stop at Death Valley before cruising back out to the California coast.  Even Death Valley was grey by the time we pulled into the Furnace Creek visitor center, still 90 degrees though.   We left the pavement at Stovepipe Wells to spend the night up Marble Canyon.  A nice set of short, narrows was up canyon a ways, but the long dirt road (Death Valley National Park has nearly 1,000 miles of dirt road) walk made the park feel more like a 4x4 destination than a backcountry paradise (this place is huge though, and I know there are plenty of big adventures to be had).  The trip did allow the van to see it's first bit of gravel travel though.  It handled the deep sand and wash boarded, rocky road exceptionally well!

Salsberry Pass, unfortunately the road was closed a couple miles further on (no signs telling anyone this) so we missed out on Badwater Basin this time around.

Marble Canyon

In seek of some blue skies we headed for the ocean, back to one of my favorites stretches of Pacific, the Lost Coast.  The final stretch of dirt down to the Needle Rock Visitor Center at Sinkyone State Park was WAY steeper and more rutted out than I had remembered and it was hard not to be dreading the drive back up it for the entire time we were out on the coast.  We reached the flats above Jones Beach at the visitor center to sunny skies, glassy surf (why I wasn't in the water I don't know), and a herd of the resident Roosevelt Elk.  The next two nights would be spent at Wheeler Beach (a Lost Coast favorite) while exploring the quiet Redwood groves, steep mountainsides, and rugged trails of the Sinkyone.  

Needle Rock Trailhead

Some clean sets coming in, Kings Range off in the distance.

Wheeler Beach

The Lost Coast!  Wheeler down below.

Trail crew hadn't been out yet, and the trails were thick...Cow Parsnip was especially harsh on the legs.

Fog rolled in the second night for the remainder of the trip