Tunnel Bridge Canyon contains a major natural bridge that has the greatest length (meaning distance to walk through) of all the natural bridges and the largest slickenside in Death Valley, with the canyon being located in the Grapevine Mountains. Difficulties encountered on the hike include figuring out the location of the canyon and climbing or bypassing progressively more challenging dry falls as progress is made up canyon. Route maps and GPS coordinates are not provided in order to avoid a large amount of increased visitation to this area and to protect fragile formations.
During my Spring 2010 trip, my friend Charlie and I hiked into a remarkable undocumented canyon located somewhere in the Grapevine Mountains. During our hike, we made perhaps the most significant discoveries of natural features found in the park during the past decade. And the interesting thing is that both of these special wonders were found in the exact same main canyon. Along with our two discoveries, we also enjoyed the canyon itself as it was fantastically beautiful in every way imaginable. Within the canyon, there were several sets of narrows to walk through, quite a few challenging dry falls to overcome, and some unbelievable geological formations. As you will see in the full set of our pictures, the two special features of the canyon are Tunnel Bridge and White Slickenside. Tunnel Bridge was the feature we discovered first as we hiked up canyon. We came up with the name Tunnel Bridge because of the overall length of the natural bridge. It is so long that once we walked through it, we felt as if we had walked through a tunnel. Estimates place the length of Tunnel Bridge at about 50 feet long. White Slickenside was the feature we discovered a little farther up the canyon. White Slickenside seems to be the largest slickenside that has been found in Death Valley. In my opinion, it is also the most beautiful. The white color and texture of the slickenside is beyond compare and it is simply breathtaking to behold it. Standing next to it will dwarf you and make you feel small in comparison. Because of the sensitive nature and newness of our discoveries, this will be one of the canyons where we share the range it is found in, but not the exact location (much like the Hidden Bridge Canyon report). A word of caution if you happen to figure out where Tunnel Bridge Canyon is located. There are lots of challenging dry falls here. It requires a combination of taking bypasses and climbing 6 dry falls in order to reach the end of the lower canyon. And there appear to be even more major dry falls in the upper canyon. Each one of these six dry falls presents its own unique challenge. A good place to stop if you are not a skilled climber with safety ropes is at the next major dry fall encountered right after Tunnel Bridge in the canyon. Regular hikers with minor bypass skills should be able to reach Tunnel Bridge. In summary, this hike was outstanding in view of the new discoveries made. Credit for the discovery of Tunnel Bridge and White Slickenside goes to myself, Charlie, and Alan. Tunnel Bridge was the 9th major natural bridge to be discovered in Death Valley and it actually started an intense search for additional natural bridges during the decade of the 2010's. Thus, this turned out to be quite an inspiring hike for others. For me personally, this was one of my most memorable hiking days ever in the park. Our hike and new discoveries took place on March 13, 2010.
This hike contains sections of climbing, exposed bypasses and/or high dry falls and may require safety ropes and equipment in order to complete the entire hike. Those without the proper training, experience, and safety gear should stop at the major dry fall which is located just past Tunnel Bridge.
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