Palmer Canyon is not as well known as neighboring Fall Canyon but it is nearly equal in beauty with narrows that are longer and shallower. Difficulties encountered on the hike include route finding to access the canyon, navigating around the circular section of badlands to reach the mouth, and climbing a minor dry fall in the 2nd Narrows in order to continue. A Google Earth map of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the mouth of Palmer Canyon are 36° 50.489'N, 117° 10.806'W. GPS coordinates for the major dry fall at the end of the hike are 36° 51.657'N, 117° 9.484'W.
When my Fall 2009 trip concluded, I decided to figure out how many officially and informally named canyons I have been to in Death Valley, and out of those, which ones were the most spectacular. I'm talking about it here because I thought you might be interested to see how Palmer Canyon fits into that. After adding everything up, I found out that I visited approximately 50 officially and informally named canyons in Death Valley from 1997 to 2009. Of all those, I feel that Palmer Canyon is definitely one of the very best. It's really amazing that a canyon that most people have never heard of can fit into such a category, but I truly feel that Palmer Canyon can hold its own with the rest which I have seen. And you will see plenty of reasons that I can make this case with my pictures within the report. Palmer Canyon was named by the park service because it is the major canyon which leads to the base of Mount Palmer. It would be nearly impossible to hike the full canyon and summit Mount Palmer in one day, but it is fairly easy to progress far enough to at least get some nice views of Mount Palmer. The canyon can best be described as a cross between Fall Canyon and Red Wall Canyon, which makes sense because Palmer Canyon is located directly in the middle of those two. The 1st Narrows of Palmer Canyon, which start immediately upon entering the mouth, are very reminiscent of Fall Canyon's towering narrows and colorfully polished walls. The 2nd Narrows, which are shorter and start shortly after the end of the 1st Narrows, are reminiscent of Red Wall Canyon's very beautiful red walls. This similarity returns once you have hiked through the open space past the 2nd Narrows, through the gorge area, and reached the base of the majestic 80 foot dry fall. I was thinking about all of the dry falls in Death Valley as well, and I think that the 80 foot dry fall in Palmer Canyon is probably one of the most visually impressive, based on its size, color, appearance, and canyon setting. Another very impressive dry fall is the 80 foot 1st dry fall in Panamint Canyon. To reach Palmer Canyon, my sister and I followed the trail to Fall Canyon, crossed the wash of Fall Canyon, and continued hiking north. There continued to be a trail and cairns to follow as we circled around a giant circular area which I nicknamed The Cauldron (referred to as the badlands by the park service). After a little over 2 miles, we reached the mouth of Palmer Canyon. The best place to stop for the day is at the base of the 80 foot dry fall, but I did take the bypass trail about 3/4 of the way to its conclusion. The bypass trail takes about 45-60 minutes to use, if you decide to use it. The only reason I didn't head into the upper canyon was that it does not appear to have any more narrows according to satellite imagery. Our hike took place on November 19, 2009. I hiked through Palmer Canyon once again on February 26, 2014 while returning from my Fall Canyon 1st Side Canyon loop.
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