Panamint City is a well-preserved ghost town high in the Panamint Mountains with extensive mining ruins and interesting nearby areas to hike. Panamint City's smelter smokestack is one of the iconic monuments representative of mining in Death Valley. Difficulties encountered during a hike to Panamint City are discussed in detail on our special Panamint City Backpacking Page. A topographical map of the Panamint City area can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the smelter smokestack are 36.117043, -117.097271. GPS coordinates for the water tank are 36.119790, -117.092131.
Panamint City definitely holds a place of special importance to me personally when it comes to everything I've experienced in Death Valley during my first two decades of park exploration and hiking. My time in Death Valley can kind of be divided into trips before Panamint City and trips after. For trips before, I was mostly doing tourist activities and hikes. On a typical trip, I was known to hike places such as Golden Canyon and Keane Wonder Mine nearly every time. But then came April of 2006. At that time, I was scheduled to go with some friends to do a backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon. For some reason, and I can't remember exactly why, we decided to change our backpacking destination to Panamint City at the last minute. And it proved to be a major success with everyone who went. We all loved Panamint City very much. You can sense our enthusiasm over the trip if you read my original trip journal here. Upon coming home from that trip, it led to this site being created. Before, I had been hosting a small collection of my Death Valley trip reports on another domain that I owned for a different web site. But I decided to expand those by writing more detailed reports with a larger amount of photos. And I ended up choosing panamintcity.com as the domain to host the newer reports. Here we are nine years later (as of the time of this writing) and as you can see, my post-2006 visits to Death Valley have been more about exploring and trying to see as much of the known and unknown park as possible.
So why exactly did Panamint City prove to be such an inspiring destination for our group? For one thing, the hike up to Panamint City truly is an incredible experience, especially when you do it for the first time. Surprise Canyon is such a beautiful place to pass through, being so lush and green with flowing waterfalls. Then, after spending most of a day hiking, the arrival in Panamint City is like suddenly being transported 100+ years into the past as you pass by the ruins of the old city and see the iconic smelter smokestack rising up high in the air. The mining ruins you soon come across are extensive and all around everywhere. And that's another aspect of why Panamint City is an inspiring destination -- there is so much to do and explore in the area. If you're interested in mining remnants, you can spend days exploring Sourdough Canyon, central Panamint City, the Wyoming Mine Trail, and the Hemlock Mine area. That's just a small sampling of the major mining areas that most people visit. Other lesser-known areas are discussed in guidebooks. If you're interested in hiking, you have great options like nearby Water Canyon, the Sourdough Canyon Road summit, Panamint Pass, and Sentinel Peak. And some people simply come to Panamint City for some relaxation. The city is a very special place when things are quiet and there are no other visitors. Friends of mine have enjoyed spending days simply relaxing on the porch of the Panamint Hilton. Much more information about the Panamint City area is contained on our separate trip reports for Sourdough Canyon, Water Canyon, Wyoming Mine, Sentinel Peak, and Marvel Canyon & Hemlock Mine. Additionally, be sure to read our special report on Panamint City Backpacking, which is located in the top left box on the Main Page of the site. That report has details about where to sleep and where to get water while staying in Panamint City. Please be sure to read my information about Hantavirus and Death Valley posted here. Our hikes took place on April 20-23, 2006, April 29, 2007 (day hike), October 16-19, 2007, May 31-June 3, 2009, May 7-8, 2011, and May 7-8, 2012.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a potential risk when entering and sleeping in Death Valley cabins. So please educate yourself on the risks and safeguards before making use of the cabins, as Hantavirus has been found in Death Valley rodents. All hikers heading to Panamint City should read my Blog post about Hantavirus linked to above.
Please do not enter the mining tunnels of the Panamint City area. Potential dangers inside abandoned mines include unseen vertical mine openings, deadly gases, oxygen deficiency, cave-ins, unsafe structures, unstable explosives, and other assorted risks. As the NPS recommends -- Stay Out and Stay Alive!
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