Surprise Canyon is one of the best named places in the park. You'll see what I mean when you look at some of the pictures down below. Actually, much of Surprise Canyon is located on BLM land, but somewhere between Limekiln Spring and Brewery Spring you cross into Death Valley National Park. Most people pass through Surprise Canyon on their way to Panamint City, either as a backpacking trip or a day hike. You start out at the parking area and immediately the trail beings following the spring up into the canyon. Much of the time you're trying to navigate your way either across the streams or directly through them. When I was hiking the area with Joe recently, we weren't able to find a way to avoid just walking directly through the streams at times, with water above our shoe lines. But it was actually better that way, because it was so hot outside, it really felt good to splash through the water. And the area is so overgrown with greenery, shrubs and plants, that the trail can be hard to find, and it takes a lot of backtracking to work your way up the canyon. Surprise Canyon also has an area where you have to climb up past waterfalls. My two favorite areas, though, are exploring "Limekiln Eden" and walking through "The Tunnel of Love".  Also, while you're hiking, it's common to run across wild burros (I met up with seven of them in a one hour period) and even bighorn sheep. Simply put, Surprise Canyon is one of the most amazing places you'll ever hike through. To me, it is where Death Valley meets Yosemite.
From the very beginning of the trail (and even before) the stream is right beside you:
Surprise Canyon is so green that it doesn't feel like the desert:
There are small waterfalls and larger ones to come:
Near the top of this photo, you can see Silva pushing his way through the brush:
Steve enjoying the hike through the beginning of Surprise Canyon:
There is usually a good amount of water flow, as you can see in the next four photos:
The trail is clearly defined here, but it's not always this easy to find your way:
After walking for half a mile, you reach the bottom of the Surprise Canyon Falls:
The falls area is reminiscent of Yosemite, with its grand waterfalls and rocks:
The falls area can be challenging to navigate, as you need to jump back and forth across the stream several times:
It's so pretty here that it's hard to leave and continue the hike:
0.8 miles after you start your hike, you reach the top of Surprise Canyon Falls:
Just above the falls, we found flowers in full bloom:
It's easiest just to hike directly through the stream at times, instead of wasting your time looking for bypasses, some of which don't exist or hit dead ends:
As you can see in this photo, you can't be afraid to get your feet wet, or it's going to be a long day:
A view of Limekiln Spring in the distance:
At 1.7 miles, you reach Limekiln Spring, which has a unique beauty with its overgrown plants:
Hidden somewhere at the source of Limekiln Spring, is Limekiln Eden.  To find it, you will have to search for the lost path which is covered by overgrown plants:
Limekiln Eden is a place of small waterfalls, pools of crystal clear water, and hanging gardens:
It is completely enclosed and you can't see in or out of Limekiln Eden:
In this picture, you can see the very small entrance you have to climb through in order to reach Limekiln Eden:
The next two pictures show you two of the pretty waterfalls which can be found here:
And the next two pictures give you some more glimpses into this secret world:
A half of mile before reaching Brewery Spring (shown here), you officially cross into Death Valley National Park.  The trail continues from here to Panamint City:
This is a view of the legendary Tunnel of Love:
Silva takes a break in the Tunnel of Love:
After passing through Brewery Spring, you eventually come to the junction with Woodpecker Canyon (seen here) on the left:
The next four pictures show some of the wildflowers we encountered in the upper canyon past Woodpecker Canyon:
Heading back down canyon now, through Limekiln Spring and on to the falls:
In the next two pictures, Steve cooled down at the upper Surprise Canyon Falls after doing a day hike all the way to Panamint City and back:
Return to Home
Steve and Daria at the Surprise Canyon falls area on March 30, 2008.  This was Daria's first visit to Surprise Canyon and Death Valley:
John Leidel was with us and he was very impressed with Surprise Canyon:
Daria checking out some Panamint Daisies growing near the mouth of the canyon:
The Panamint Daisies of Surprise Canyon are quite spectacular if you visit at the right time in the Spring:
There are a good variety of wildflowers on display in Surprise Canyon:
Looking down Surprise Canyon past the parking area and towards the mouth.  The wide flow of water continues for a good distance:
Trees in bloom along the beginning of Brewery Spring, 2.8 miles into the hike:
Wild burros are a common sight in Surprise Canyon.  It's nearly impossible to hike the canyon without running into them:
The end of Surprise Canyon is dead ahead at the face of the monolith mountain.  Welcome to Panamint City:
Most dayhikers will be turning around here at Panamint City (5+ miles into the hike) and heading back down: