Sidewinder Canyon is a fairly popular hike through a conglomerate rock canyon which contains three official side slots that each have a major natural bridge within. Difficulties encountered on the hike include route finding to access the canyon, crawling through fallen boulders in order to access the first slot, and climbing small dry falls in order to progress through the other two slots. A Google Earth map of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 36° 3.889'N, 116° 44.692'W. GPS coordinates for Slot #1 are 36° 3.164'N, 116° 44.445'W. GPS coordinates for Slot #2 are 36° 3.166'N, 116° 44.334'W. GPS coordinates for Slot #3 are 36° 3.097'N, 116° 44.091'W.
Sidewinder Canyon is a location that we have visited several times over the years. The photos included within this report are from four different hikes into Sidewinder Canyon. I originally found out about the location by attending one of the nightly slideshow programs that is held in the Furnace Creek Visitor Center during peak visitation seasons for Death Valley. A lot of effort gets put into those programs and they are very much worth attending if you can make the time for it during your own trips. As far as Sidewinder Canyon goes, there is actually a handout that you can get at the Visitor Center if you are interested in visiting this location. The starting point for the hike is located about 15 minutes south of Badwater, where there is a gravel parking lot. Hiking to the southeast from the parking lot leads to the mouth of Sidewinder Canyon. About 1.1 miles from the parking lot, Slot #1 is reached. Keep in mind that there are additional slots located within the canyon that are passed by. Slot #1 refers to the 1st official slot as labeled by NPS staff members. You can see what the three official slots (and best ones) are by referring to the map or GPS coordinates above. Slot #1 begins with a scramble and crawl through some massive fallen boulders. Just past the boulder maze is Sidewinder Slot #1 Natural Bridge, which is recognized as one of Death Valley's major natural bridges. Slot #1 Bridge is so incredibly impressive because it completely covers over the canyon and creates a tunnel which is pitch black. You literally cannot continue hiking through Slot #1 without a flashlight because it is so dark. Slot #1 comes to an end a short time later when it reaches a major dry fall which cannot be climbed. After this, it is time to turn around and head back out to the main canyon. Slot #2 is located about 1/10 of a mile farther up the main canyon. Slot #2 is perhaps the most impressive, with towering slot narrows which seemingly go on endlessly. You have to progress quite far up the slot and do some minor climbs if you want to see Sidewinder Slot #2 Natural Bridge, another of Death Valley's major natural bridges. But it is certainly worth the effort because the natural bridge is also impressive. (As a side note, be sure and check out my special report on Death Valley's Natural Bridges to learn more about these outstanding park features.) After backtracking into the main canyon once again, Slot #3 is located 1/4 of a mile farther up canyon. Slot #3 contains both a major and a minor natural bridge. Both bridges are worth the hike alone just to see them and get a photograph under them. In recent years, a massive boulder fell into Slot #3 and has blocked access deep into the slot. Thus, the passable portion of Slot #3 is now very short in length. It is also important to follow the main Sidewinder Canyon all the way to its logical end, as there are nice sections of narrows even in the main canyon. This is a great family hike, it is a nice place to see Spring wildflowers in bloom, and as mentioned, the slots contain three major natural bridges. Just be careful because there are some areas of climbing and crawling within the three slots. Our hikes took place on October 22, 2007, March 14, 2009, and November 14 and 16, 2013.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT