Echo Canyon was one of my longtime holdout destinations which took me 15 years to get to.  I first started visiting Death Valley back in 1997 and since then I have brought a 4WD vehicle with me very few times.  Our March 2012 trip proved to be one of those times, so for an easy day, my wife and I decided to drive Echo Canyon, explore the Inyo Mine, and hike out to the Amargosa Overlook.  Echo Canyon was a very interesting place to drive through.  It's a neat canyon which stays mostly narrow and features quite a few rock arches.  Some of these arches are easy to miss if you are just driving through and looking out your window.  In fact, I didn't notice a couple of the arches until we drove back down canyon, and at least one more until I checked out my pictures at home.  After driving through the canyon, we drove to the end of the Inyo Mine spur road and got out to hike Upper Echo Canyon to the Amargosa Overlook.  It was basically a long and mostly uninteresting trudge across the open desert.  The good news is that the hike was short (about 3 miles / 1 hour each way).  And the grand reward at the end was an incredible view of the Amargosa desert from over 2,000 feet above the desert floor.  Upon returning to our vehicle, we drove back a short distance and fully explored the Inyo Camp and Inyo Mine.  There was a lot to see there.  And overall, this turned out to be a great way to spend a day in Death Valley.  Click on the GE map below to enlarge it for greater detail of our hiking route.
Echo Canyon area GE map
At the mouth of Echo Canyon.  Just before driving in, we passed a large group of campers:
Looking back down the road as it enters the mouth of Echo Canyon.  Without 4WD, we probably would have gotten stuck in some of the deep gravel found on this road once entering the canyon:
Echo Canyon stays quite narrow but lacks the epic height found in Titus Canyon:
But still, there are some massive peaks towering above the canyon as you drive through:
The next three pictures show a variety of rock walls and hillsides above the canyon floor:
The legendary Eye of the Needle can be found about 1 1/2 miles into the canyon:
Two views of the Eye of the Needle from the western (lower) side of the canyon:
The road basically wraps around the Eye of the Needle and continues directly below it on the other side:
Two views of the Eye of the Needle from the eastern (higher) side:
Pretty cliffs seen while driving through the longest canyon in the Funeral Mountains:
Spotting a small rock arch up high on the right side of the canyon wall:
The canyon narrows continue for a little over 2 miles and then things widen out:
This is mostly open desert with some nice peaks in the distance:
Signs direct the way from here to the Inyo Mine:
Passing by the Inyo Mine.  We would stop here later for a closer look:
End of the Inyo Mine spur road.  This is the parking spot for the hike to the Amargosa Overlook:
Heading out on a day of fierce winds for the 3+ miles hike (each way):
Only the first portion of this hike takes place within what would be called a typical canyon:
The topo doesn't show a spring here, but it seems that there is one:
The gorge area of Upper Echo Canyon:
A closer look at the gorge area, which is basically just a short rocky section with a few minor dry falls and overhangs:
Looking back at the gorge area from the top of it:
Great views of Schwaub Peak is the one and only interesting thing about the next 2 1/2 miles of this hike:
Passing by a rock slide area:
The topo map shows this section as following an old railroad grade:
Panoramic of the back side of Schwaub Peak (click to enlarge):
Schwaub Peak panoramic
Zooming in on Schwaub Peak, which is a very impressive mountain when viewed from the Red Amphitheater area:
According to the top map, we were now following the grade of an old road:
The end of the hike is just ahead at the base of these cliffs:
Reaching the Amargosa Overlook and checking out the view:
View of the desert floor from 2,000+ feet above:
Zooming in on the green crop circles which contrast greatly with the surrounding desert:
You can walk along the cliffs at this spot and get a variety of views:
In the desert far below, winds are kicking up a lot of dust:
Looking straight down from the viewpoint:
View of peak P6015 as seen from the overlook:
Picture of Steve with the Amargosa desert in the background:
Panoramic of the desert below from the Amargosa Overlook (click to enlarge):
Amargosa desert panoramic
View farther up this area past the end of the old road.  After stopping here for lunch, we hiked back in the howling wind and drove our truck to the Inyo Mine:
First structure that we came across which was located close to the parking area:
Small house built into the hillside and surrounded by rock walls:
Daria getting a picture in front of this house:
The view out the front door of this small house:
Not much left of this structure, just the roof section:
Back side view of the first structure that we saw earlier:
The outdoor bench has a number of interesting artifacts on it to check out and photograph:
A set of wheels resting in the sand:
A large tank that is partially filled up with debris:
Five pictures showing what remains of the mill at Inyo Camp:
Huge engine that was used at the mill site:
Three pictures of fully collapsed houses in the area:
Three pictures of one of the houses at the eastern end of town:
And four pictures of another nearby house that is precariously propped up on some rocks:
Leaving Inyo Camp behind to hike up the trail and explore Inyo Mine:
An easy to follow trail the whole way up (about 300 feet in elevation gain):
Looking at some of the tailings that are farther up the hillside:
Passing by a rock foundation with some old boards still standing:
The ore bin found at the Inyo Mine at trail's end:
Rail tracks heading out to the top of the ore bin:
Machinery that was left behind and is now rusting away:
Four pictures of the main mining tunnel at Inyo Mine:
Three final pictures of the ore bin, which is the most interesting feature outside of the Inyo Mine:
We finish up with six final pictures taken as we were driving back down Echo Canyon:
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