Quartz Canyon served as our introduction to the Owlshead Mountains in Death Valley.  Up until this trip, the Owlsheads had just been a name on the map for me.  While I had driven by them before and seen them from a distance, this was the first time I had a chance to hike into and explore them.  My friend Charlie set up this hike for us in advance.  We would be exploring two canyons in the Owlsheads which had seen very few visitors before.  Our plan was to do a loop hike, where we would hike up one canyon (which we later named Quartz Canyon), and then return to our vehicle by way of another canyon (which received the name South Quartz Canyon).  The Owlsheads south of Through Canyon have been explored by very few people, as this is a region that many both inside and outside of the park are just beginning to visit.  So at this time, Quartz Canyon, Sand Canyon, and Smoke Tree Canyon are all unofficial names, although they serve as an excellent way to identify the canyons and what you can find in them.  As for Quartz Canyon, you can probably guess that we found lots of quartz there.  Quartz Canyon appears to be similar to Sagenite Canyon (also in the Owlsheads) in that before it was part of Death Valley National Park, there were rock diggings which took place there.  We found evidence of these past diggings in quite a few places as we progressed up Quartz Canyon.  You will see some examples of this in the pictures down below.  After we photographed the quartz, we did indeed return it back to the ground where we found it.  After we hiked quite far up Quartz Canyon, we looped back down via South Quartz Canyon which, as of the time of initial writing, surprised us by having the largest dry fall which has ever been found in the Owlsheads.  (I later found a larger dry fall in Magnetite Canyon).  We found a total of 4 dry falls which we either had to climb or bypass in South Quartz Canyon.  It was quite a pleasant surprise, but then again, when you have the chance to hike in relatively unexplored areas, you're usually going to find something special.  We also made it quite close to Mill BM, although we did not end up trying to reach the summit.  (Note:  click on the Google Earth route map below to enlarge it).
Quartz Canyon GE map
The hike into Quartz Canyon started on Harry Wade Road, a few miles south of the Amargosa River crossing:
It was a long stretch of desert walking in order to reach the mouth of the canyon, but the ground was firm and it was relatively easy:
Over an hour after we set out, we finally arrived at the mouth of Quartz Canyon:
The first thing we noticed was a pile of quartz sitting near the canyon entrance:
Looking a little bit further at our surroundings, we saw quartz diggings and even some cairns set up from decades ago leading to these diggings:
This is a nice picture of Daria by some blooming flowers and a heart rock behind her:
We found out that the canyon walls were much different from anything else we had ever seen in Death Valley.  The Owlsheads are made up of decomposing granite:
There was a huge bird nest up on this rock high on the canyon wall:
As we progressed up Quartz Canyon, we were stunned at the scenery, being that it was something so different than what we were used to in the park:
Charlie looking back down canyon to take in the scenery:
Notice the beautiful contrast between light and dark on opposite sides of the canyon:
After seeing the scenery of Quartz Canyon, we can tell you that we will be spending much more time in the Owlsheads in the future:
This rock had natural engravings.  We are not sure what forces of nature caused it:
Daria posing by some of the huge boulders which were blocking the canyon wash.  We had to navigate to the right of where she was standing in order to continue:
Taking a break to look back down canyon at where we came from:
Charlie and Christopher heading further up canyon.  Christopher is  a former park ranger from the Grand Canyon who joined us for this hike.  It was really nice to have him along with us:
Charlie pretending to lift this huge boulder with all of his strength:
After a while, the canyon opened up and we walked through a spacious area, as you can see in the next two pictures:
Near the end of this wide open area, we turned south into a side canyon:
Charlie and Christopher headed up to a small ridge.  After this, we began heading up to an even higher ridge to get a view of the Owlsheads:
The next two pictures show you the view from up high of the wide open area which we had just walked through:
Looking southeast from up high at the Owlsheads and beyond.  The Owlshead Mountains certainly have a unique beauty:
Our group from left to right, that's Charlie, Daria, Christopher, and Steve:
The next four pictures show you some more examples of the quartz diggings we found while up at this overlook point, which is above Quartz Canyon:
After this, we descended down to another side canyon which would lead us to an alternate route back to our vehicle.  The going was a bit rough here, and I received a nasty scratch across my leg:
Still in the crossover canyon taking a short break before resuming hiking:
Finally reaching South Quartz Canyon.  We named this canyon South Quartz because some of the largest quartz diggings we found were in the middle of the two canyons:
As we came into the canyon at the mid-point, we first headed up canyon and soon found the 1st of the 4 dry falls:
As Charlie showed here, this 1st dry fall (12 feet high) was not too difficult to climb:
Daria posing by interesting rocks which were sitting in the canyon wash:
These rock formations high up on the canyon wall were even more interesting:
Charlie climbing the 2nd dry fall (25 feet high) which we encountered.  After we reached this point, we turned around and headed back down canyon:
Daria peeking through an opening in the canyon wall:
The view as we headed back down canyon towards the mid-point where we had entered:
Once past the mid-point, we walked to the edge of this stunning dry fall:
Looking down canyon from the edge of the dry fall:
We had to use a bypass to get around this huge dry fall (35 to 40 feet high).  Charlie told us that this was the tallest dry fall ever discovered in the Owlshead Mountains, as nothing like this had ever been seen before.  I later found a much larger dry fall in Magnetite Canyon:
After taking the bypass and dropping back into the canyon, we went back up to look at the base of the dry fall:
Steve standing at the base of the massive dry fall.  The dry fall is actually taller than what this picture reveals, as it curves at the top and continues.  To see what I mean, scroll back up two pictures and look at the long distance shot:
One final shot of the newly discovered dry fall taken as we headed down canyon:
Charlie making his way down the 4th and final dry fall which we discovered in this canyon:
Daria and I took a bypass route instead of sliding down the fall.  This is a picture of it from the bottom:
As we got closer to the mouth of the canyon we began seeing footprints everywhere.  Other people?  No, these were the tracks of burros who seem to really like this canyon:
Exiting the canyon and heading back to our vehicle:
We found lots of desert tortoise burrows, but no tortoises:
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