Smoke Tree Slots #2 and 3 are part of a series of three narrow canyons with towering slots which are located in the eastern Owlshead Mountains. Difficulties encountered on the hike include route finding to properly locate all of the canyons and finding a safe way to crossover from one canyon to another. Google Earth maps of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates for the beginning of Smoke Tree Slot #2 are 35° 46.674'N, 116° 35.063'W. GPS coordinates for the beginning of Smoke Tree Slot #3 are 35° 46.263'N, 116° 34.885'W.
This report is a continuation of the report for Smoke Tree Slot #1. Because of the extraordinary slot canyon scenery found during our hike to the Smoke Tree Slots, it was impossible to condense the included photographs into one single report. But it worked out better this way, as now everyone has the opportunity to see more of this beautiful area. When the first report left off, we had just visited the interesting caves located in between Smoke Tree Slot #1 and #2. After visiting the caves, we dropped into a wash and followed that down for a while. We then completed the crossover into Smoke Tree Slot #2. We explored the upper regions of ST Slot #2 and took a lunch break. After that, we hiked down the canyon past our entry point and entered into the lengthy narrows. These canyon narrows were less impressive, mainly because they were more shallow. However, they had a different texture, almost looking like layers upon layers of stacked flat rocks. So that made things interesting. The narrows of ST Slot #2 actually go on for over 1/3 of a mile. Once we reached the canyon mouth, we crossed over into the major canyon wash of Great Dry Fall Canyon. As I was the only one who had previously hiked into Great Dry Fall Canyon (and assigned it the informal name), the rest of the group wanted to see Great Dry Fall. So we did a side trip up the major canyon to the base of the massive dry fall, which was about 2 miles RT. I would highly recommend this side trip to anybody exploring the Smoke Tree Slots. Going to the base of Great Dry Fall gets hikers into the Owlshead range, which allows you to fully appreciate some of the decomposed granite scenery. One disappointing thing I found while doing this portion of the hike was that recent flash floods have greatly damaged the Smoke Trees within the wash. The rushing water of flash floods has literally broken some of the tree trunks in half and buried some of the trees under gravel. In stark contrast, if you look at some of the Smoke Trees shown on my Great Dry Fall Canyon report (listed under Passage Canyon), you can see these same Smoke Trees growing tall and looking lively. To wrap up our hike, we then backtracked out and crossed over to the top of Smoke Tree Slot #3. This was the most impressive canyon visually when walking along the canyon rim. We started at the top by looking over the edge of the major dry fall. We next headed along the southern rim until we dropped into the wash at the canyon mouth. Walking up ST Slot #3, we admired some of the wildflowers blooming along the way and were glad to see more Smoke Trees in the wash. We then found another impressive slot canyon which forked off of the main narrows to the right. This slot canyon was reminiscent of the earlier spectacular slot canyon we had discovered over in ST Slot #1. It was yet another great discovery for the day. After taking many photographs, we resumed hiking up the main canyon narrows. It was an extremely interesting area. We found one live tarantula and some colorful mud drips on the canyon walls. The canyon walls also had an orange tint to them. When we had finished enjoying ST Slot #3, we turned around and hiked back to our vehicle. Charlie and I both agreed afterward that this had been the single best day we had ever had hiking in the Owlshead Mountains. For me, it was also the second best day I had ever had in Death Valley, behind only the day in which I co-discovered Sunlight Bridge. At the same time as first publishing this report, I also updated my Owlsheads Mountains Special Report (linked to in the top left box of the main page). What I wrote there provides a fitting way to wrap up these two reports. It says: "The surprise discovery of the Smoke Tree Slots forever changed the hiking dynamic and overall view of the Owlshead Mountains. The Smoke Tree Slots are three narrow canyons with towering side slots which are impressive and my personal favorite area within the entire mountain range. This can be considered a must-do hike." Our hike took place on January 4, 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