Red Wall Canyon was a destination I had been thinking about visiting for the past couple of years. Yet, I always held off for the same reason that many others probably hold off. The issue I'm talking about, of course, is the 25 foot chockstone fall which is located less than one mile into the canyon. I did not want to hike nearly 2 1/2 miles up the steep wash outside of the canyon just to get inside and be stopped a short time later, especially when I had heard that the best part of Red Wall Canyon was above the 25 foot dry fall. Being that I am not a rock climber, I knew my limitations, that I would not be able to climb the dry fall without some kind of assistance. However, things changed in late 2008 when I learned about a potential long one-mile bypass route which takes you from the lower canyon into the upper canyon. Gathering up all of the information, maps, and print-outs on the mythical bypass, I headed into Red Wall Canyon in the Spring of 2009 to find out for myself if it actually existed and could safely transport somebody into the upper canyon. Once I arrived in Red Wall Canyon, I was immediately impressed by the look and feeling of the canyon as I progressed through the lower portion of it. Soon, I began walking through the 1st narrows and arrived at the expected dead-end of the 25 foot chockstone fall. As I walked closer to it, I was surprised to see 2 assistance ropes hanging down, which had obviously been placed by past visitors to the canyon. One of these ropes was hanging all the way down to the ground. I read online later that at one time someone had even hauled a ladder up to the base of this dry fall and left it there. But since then, the park service has removed the old ropes (which would be dangerous to use) and also the ladder. So that leaves visitors the option of stopping at the dry fall or searching for the bypass. My pictures below will take you up to the base of the 1st major dry fall in the canyon.
SAFETY ALERT-- This hike contains sections of climbing, exposed bypasses and/or high dry falls and requires safety ropes & equipment in order to complete the entire hike. Those without the proper training, experience, and safety gear should stop at the bottom of the major dry fall in the early part of the canyon and not try to get past it.
Parking area for the hike is located at mile marker 19 along Scotty's Castle Road:
Some people have actually gotten lost while trying to find the entrance to Red Wall Canyon. For me, the entrance seemed obvious... simply follow the wash directly up to its source, at the place where brown meets red:
There were lots of these logs on the fan walking up, which are old trees that have been washed down Red Wall Canyon from somewhere up in the Grapevine Mountains:
Steve near the canyon entrance on a beautiful Spring morning:
Now officially entering Red Wall Canyon:
As the next two pictures show, it's obvious right from the start where the canyon received its name:
And as the next three pictures show, when sunlight hits the canyon walls, the red grows even brighter:
Steve about to walk into the lower portion of the 1st narrows in Red Wall Canyon:
The next two pictures reveal what the lower portion of the 1st narrows looked like:
This is the imposing menace and end of the hike for most people, the 25 foot chockstone dry fall. As you can see, the climb up it is steep and a risky move has to be made to get around the chockstone and reach the left side of the fall. This is the spot where most hikers have turned around in the past:
Heading back out of the Red Wall Canyon narrows in the next few pictures:
Back in the beginning of Red Wall Canyon, it was now later in the day and there was a lot more sun. Shortly after this, I ran into the only other hiker which I saw the entire day:
Exiting Red Wall Canyon after a very successful and enjoyable visit. This is one of the great places in Death Valley: