Red Amphitheater is a fairly easy half-day hike with scenic views of Schwaub Peak on the way to visit a spectacular area of eroded red cliffs. Difficulties encountered on the hike include dealing with one steep downhill section (using our route) and locating Red Amphitheater as it is not clearly marked on maps. A Google Earth map of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the parking area on Hwy 190 at the park entrance sign are 36° 22.559'N, 116° 41.336'W. GPS coordinates for Strange Place are 36° 24.310'N, 116° 40.415'W. GPS coordinates for Red Amphitheater are 36° 25.040'N, 116° 39.104'W.
Red Amphitheater is a hike that I first wrote a report about after hiking in the area on October 20, 2007. However, I never felt good about the report, because the hike didn't really go anywhere or see anything interesting. We had started by driving up through Hole-In-the-Wall and parking just past it. We then hiked the final 2 1/2 miles of the 4WD road and walked into the area marked on maps as "Red Amphitheater". However, maps and online resources don't really reveal the actual location of where a Red Amphitheater formation can be found. Instead, they just kind of generalize by writing the words over a large area. Because of this confusion, we found our first hike into the area to be disappointing and we all decided to never return to the area again. I remember clearly one of my friends that day saying that our hike had just been a walk through a random stretch of desert with nothing to see. That was a bit of an exaggeration, as we did have nice views of Schwaub Peak during the day and we did find some interesting fossils. But we never did find an area that would qualify as Red Amphitheater. A couple of years later, a regular Death Valley hiker named Chris ended up figuring out where a real Red Amphitheater formation was. Thus, over four years after our initial hike through the area, we returned to hike there again using the directions he provided. For our updated hike, I charted out a new route which would start at Hwy 190 instead of at Hole-In-the-Wall. The hike would start near the eastern park entrance sign on Hwy 190 just before a major bend in the road. This bend is located a short distance prior to reaching the turnoff for Dante's View Rd. The Death Valley National Park photo-op sign is probably the safest place to park in the area. Our hike followed a wash up to the left of the base of Pyramid Peak, cut through a small side canyon, attained a ridge, and ultimately dropped down into the Red Amphitheater hiking area. We passed by a rock formation which I had long ago named Strange Place and marked on my map as something neat to check out. Strange Place is interesting because it kind of looks like a triangular shaped rock hut with an entrance cave leading inside. We got some nice pictures of Strange Place and then we proceeded a ways further until we turned up Red Amphitheater Canyon. After winding up the canyon and passing through a fun bouldering section, we arrived at the base of Red Amphitheater. Red Amp is an area of very pretty red cliffs and rockslides. The hike to Red Amp from Hwy 190 is about 5 miles each way. There's nothing really challenging about it. It's just a nice, easy, family-friendly hike. This report has been completely revised and contains no elements of my original report. Our hike took place on December 6, 2011.
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