Nemo Slot is an isolated, rarely-visited narrow canyon with a beautiful slot and extensive mud drip structures which is located 6/10 of an air mile west of Nemo Canyon in the Panamint Mountains. Difficulties encountered on the hike include driving a rough 4WD road to get to the starting point (when using the direct route), route finding to access the canyon, and being aware of potential rockfall within the narrows. Google Earth maps of the hiking route (turned to the northwest for better viewing) can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 36° 14.556'N, 117° 15.778'W. GPS coordinates for the mouth of Nemo Slot Canyon are 36° 15.517'N, 117° 14.712'W.
In February of 2014, we carried out a very successful three-day exploration of the major canyons located between Nova Canyon and Nemo Canyon. This exploration resulted in several significant discoveries, which included finding the surprising population of Teddy Bear Chollas (which made park news), the slots of Teddy Bear Canyon, the beautiful scenery of Mud Drip Canyon, and the Nova Slots area in and around Nova Canyon. Two years later, Tobin and I decided to follow that up with a fourth visit to this area of the Panamint Mountains which receives minimal visitation. As there were still a couple of additional areas that I was interested in checking out between Nova Canyon and Nemo Canyon, we planned to hike out to the location which appeared to have the most potential -- an area which I had labeled as Nemo Slot. Nemo Slot is located 6/10 of an air mile west of Nemo Canyon. However, it does not directly split off of Nemo Canyon. Instead, to visit Nemo Slot, a hiker must either hike around the bottom of the range starting from Trona-Wildrose Road or hike directly toward the mouth of the canyon by using the dirt and gravel East Side Panamint Valley Road. Being that the Trona-Wildrose Road was closed during our visit due to washouts, we had no choice but to rent a 4WD Jeep and drive the extremely rough East Side Panamint Valley Road. We found that the road had some very deep channel crossing washouts which we were barely able to clear several times. Portions of the road have also collapsed along the right side, making the driving scary in spots. However, we were able to make it through and park the Jeep at our targeted starting point. To approach the mouth of Nemo Slot Canyon from this parking area, a hiker can either follow the wash through some small hills or climb up and walk along the foothills. We chose the foothills route on the way up but found it to be tedious with continuous drainage crossings. So we used the wide wash on the hike back to the vehicle later. As seen from a distance, Nemo Slot Canyon looks like a very short canyon with a massive headwall at the back which is impassable. The headwall looks like it has some deep natural cuts into it which create dramatic scenery. After hiking about 1 3/4 miles and gaining 750 feet in elevation, we reached the mouth of the canyon. There were a few minor formations on both sides of the canyon walls, but our attention continued to be drawn to the massive headwall at the back. Upon continuing for another 1/4 of a mile into the canyon, a major junction is reached. To the right is the side slot and to the left is the main canyon. Looking to the left, we could immediately see some dramatic narrows where the canyon walls closed in. Before checking that out, we turned right and hiked up the steep side slot. The side slot contained some high walls with interesting formations, a cave, spots of narrows, mud drips, and a dry fall at the end. We next returned to the junction and headed up the main canyon. This is where the area which we call Nemo Slot truly begins. Upon entering Nemo Slot, not only is the canyon very narrow but the walls are extremely high on both sides. Looking up was actually a bit terrifying while passing through, because you can't help but think about rockfall coming down and hitting you on the head. There were several areas which I hurried through as fast as possible in view of the highly unlikely, but possible, danger. It is the sheer height of the walls and the fact that they are nearly vertical which creates this uneasy feeling. Several landslides have to be scrambled over but the hiking is not all that difficult. Looking around, there is an incredible amount of beauty on display through this area with mud drip structures which resemble chandeliers, amazing formations up high, and continuous side dry falls and short slots cut into the canyon walls. In fact, within this section of canyon, I found the most mud drip structures that I have ever seen in Death Valley. It is near the end, though, where Nemo Slot really impressed us and made the entire hike worthwhile. At the end of the main canyon narrows, the canyon transitions into a high towering slot of exceptional beauty. When you first see the slot, it looks like there is no way that it will be passable for very long (see first sample photo below). But to our surprise, it was. And you will see quite a few photos which showcase the beauty of the end portion of Nemo Slot. After fully exploring and documenting the end slot, we hiked back to our vehicle. The entire hike (which includes exploring both forks) is about 6 miles RT with 1,900 feet of elevation gain. However, it is harder than it sounds due to some very difficult walking terrain during portions of the hike. If you include my solo hike of Nova Canyon (of which, my report remains the only documented hike of that major canyon) and my two hikes of Nemo Canyon, we have spent seven entire days exploring the forgotten area of the Panamint Mountains between Nova Canyon and Nemo Canyon. It has been time well spent. Our hike took place on January 3, 2016.
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