Double Bridge Slot is an impressive slot canyon with a dark section and a natural bridge at the entrance which is the only known double bridge in Death Valley. Difficulties encountered on the hike include being aware of the danger of falling rocks within the slots, using extreme caution in and around Squeeze Slot to avoid getting stuck inside (including not hiking alone), and safe route finding in order to carry out the crossover route. Google Earth maps of the hiking route (turned to the northwest for better viewing) can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates for Double Bridge Slot are 36° 38.958'N, 117° 0.042'W. GPS coordinates for Squeeze Slot are 36° 39.380'N, 116° 59.858'W.
Over the past few years, I have personally taken a great interest in Death Valley's natural bridges. My interest in natural bridges began in March of 2010 when Charlie and I became the first to document Tunnel Bridge in the Grapevine Mountains. In the following three years, three additional impressive natural bridges were discovered within the park -- Crescent Bridge (2011), Tucki Bridge (2012), and Moonlight Bridge (2013). Visiting these newly found locations was quite inspiring. I'm sure you know what I mean if you've had a chance to visit any of these particular natural bridges for yourself. That led to what I labeled as my "Natural Bridges Trip" of November 2014, during which two amazing things happened. First, a friend and I became the only hikers in the past decade to be granted official access to the closed Keane Wonder Mine area in order to photograph Keane Wonder Bridge, which is another major natural bridge. Second, Kauri and I went on to discover a brand new natural bridge, which we called Sunlight Bridge. You can read more details of that discovery on my Sunlight Bridge report, which is listed under the Grapevine Mountains. And you can read more about Death Valley's major natural bridges by checking out my special database page entitled Death Valley's Natural Bridges in the top left box of the main page.
Fast forward to January 1, 2016 and my friend Tobin and I were in Death Valley at the beginning of a five day trip. There was an area within the far lower foothills of the Funeral Mountains which I had been studying at home on satellite imagery. I had circled one spot and added a marker labeled "natural bridge?" to the map. This is what I do when I've found a potential area of interest which is worthy of further exploration to check if there is a natural bridge or not. Usually, this has a high rate of failure and has resulted in some wasted hiking time in the past. Not everything is as it appears on satellite imagery. However, things would turn out differently this time. We left our vehicle at the planned parking spot (which is located 0.9 miles south of the junction of Hwy. 190 and Scotty's Castle Rd.) and began hiking up an obscure drainage. Most people driving by probably wondered what we were doing because nobody ever hikes in this area. From the road, there doesn't appear to be anything at all interesting in the vicinity. We stayed right as the large wash split into two main drainages divided by a small outcropping in the middle. The wash terrain was fairly easy to walk on, but it got a bit tedious. So after 1/2 mile we climbed onto the small bench above the wash on the right. This made the hiking even easier for the next 3/4 mile. We safely dropped back into the wash before the cliffs grew too high and finished the final 1/2 mile plus until we reached the main slot canyon that we were targeting. As we approached the slot canyon, we were stunned to see a very unusual sight. Blocking entrance into the slot was a massive front wall made of conglomerate rock. The only openings in the wall were created by two natural bridges. The right natural bridge was about 4 feet tall and had to be crawled through. The left natural bridge was about 7 feet tall and could be easily walked through. This was quite surprising because a double natural bridge had never before been discovered in Death Valley. All of the other natural bridges are only single bridges. Double arches up on hillsides can be found, but natural bridges are a completely different and much rarer formation than arches. After taking extensive photographs of the newly discovered double bridge, we finally entered into the slot canyon hidden behind it. And the slot canyon turned out to be quite impressive as well. The slot had some nice high narrows and one area which we call the "Dark Spot". The Dark Spot is created by the lighting within the slot canyon. Because the walls get so high and not much light filters in, upon turning one corner there appears to be a pitch black cave up ahead. However, once you walk into the Dark Spot, you can see that the slot canyon continues to the right. Eventually, the slot gets shallower and then divides into two forks after climbing over a small boulder jam. Because we didn't have any more time, Tobin and I then exited the slot and headed back to our vehicle. We decided to name the new natural bridge Double Bridge. And we named the slot behind it Double Bridge Slot.
Four days later, we were leaving the park but decided to stop back by and revisit Double Bridge before going home. We wanted to get some additional photographs. The slot entrance is a bit difficult to photograph, so we planned to take a series of images to combine into one to best showcase Double Bridge. Our friend and well-known Death Valley explorer Kauri also joined us for this hike. After checking out Double Bridge and Double Bridge Slot including the Dark Spot, our group continued up canyon onto the hillside above the neighboring main wash to the north. We then made our way down into that wash by using a safe route to explore a few other areas which looked intriguing. Among these various areas, one place really stood out as being quite special. It was another slot canyon that was short and shallow, but it was the tightest and narrowest we had ever found in Death Valley. Several times I had to either crawl or squeeze my way through the slot in order to continue. I made it about 2/3 of the way through the slot, while Tobin made it most of the way, and Kauri made it all the way through to the end. Because the slot was so tight and confined, there was no real way to take good photographs while inside of it which showcase it properly. However, when I climbed onto the hillside above the slot, it was easier to take good photographs which show just how tight the slot really is. If you've ever tried photographing some of the very tight slots in Utah, you understand the challenge. Our group truly enjoyed this location and we are calling it Squeeze Slot. However, an important word of caution is in order. One NPS staff member who visited Squeeze Slot after us remarked that "while out there all alone, I realized that if someone slipped into the slot from above, it might be quite easy to get stuck there, much less the possibility of getting stuck just attempting to get through the slot." I agree with those words completely. So, in summary, do not attempt to visit Squeeze Slot alone unless somebody knows exactly where you are going and when you are expected to return. And I would suggest that it is better if children do not go into Squeeze Slot at all. Also, please be careful not to cause undue erosion to the walls by climbing up the walls of the slot or forcing your way through areas in which you cannot naturally fit. If walking around above the slot, stay away from the edge so as to not slip inside and also so that you do not push additional rocks into the slot. After exiting Squeeze Slot, it started raining outside, so we made our way back to our vehicles by following the wash down for 2 1/2 miles. The entire loop route is about 5 1/2 miles long with an elevation gain of 600 feet. I'm not sure if I will ever again find another significant natural bridge within the park like Double Bridge, but I sure enjoyed co-discovering this one along with Tobin. Our hikes took place on January 1 and 5, 2016.
This hike features Squeeze Slot, which is a very narrow slot canyon that presents a unique set of dangers to hikers. Because Squeeze Slot is extremely tight, it would be possible to get stuck while passing through the slot or if falling in from above the slot. We do not recommend entering or climbing above Squeeze Slot alone without another hiker nearby who can get help. Please stay away from the top edge and do not force your way through the slot.
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