Eureka Peak is a very isolated peak which sees few visitors but has perhaps the most incredible view of the Eureka Sand Dunes from anywhere in Death Valley. Difficulties encountered on the hike include having the proper 4WD vehicle to reach the starting point if using the Jackass Flats Route and route finding abilities to use either of the two routes described. Google Earth maps of the hiking route can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates for the parking area are 37° 2.298'N, 117° 52.976'W. GPS coordinates for the first pass are 37° 2.365'N, 117° 52.190'W. GPS coordinates for the dry lake bed are 37° 2.024'N, 117° 49.744'W.
Our hike to Eureka Peak originated when I stumbled across one single photograph of the Eureka Sand Dunes back in December of 2010. So this was another hike which took me over four years to carry out after first researching it. The photograph showed a breathtaking view of the Eureka Dunes as seen from Eureka Peak. After finding the photo, I did some research on hiking to the peak from the Eureka Dunes. Using this route would involve parking at the Eureka Dunes, hiking across Eureka Valley, and then climbing a series of slowly-rising ridges up to the peak. The route looked fairly straightforward but very long. Based on my research, it would be about 9 miles each way with 3,700 feet of elevation gain. At the time, I decided that I didn't want to carry out an 18 mile day hike in Eureka Valley, so I decided to put the destination on hold until I either had the time for an overnight backpack or was willing to take on the challenge. When my January 2015 trip arrived, I finally decided that it was time to visit Eureka Peak. I had been wanting to do a brand new report on the Eureka Dunes, so it just made sense to attempt Eureka Peak at the same time. When I revealed my hiking plans to a friend in the park service (who had done all of the named Death Valley peaks except for Eureka Peak and Black Top BM at the time), he happened to tell me about an alternate route to Eureka Peak which starts out at Jackass Flats. That woke me up to something I hadn't thought of and so I did some additional research. The research revealed that the Jackass Flats Route would be 6.2 miles one-way (or 12.4 miles RT) with a cumulative elevation gain of 3,200 feet (which includes elevation gained both ways). Knowing that the route was 5.6 miles shorter and had 500 feet less of elevation gain made the decision easy -- we would definitely be using the Jackass Flats Route rather than the Eureka Valley Route. The next issue that came up had to do with logistics. Jackass Flats is not an easy area of the park to get to. 4WD is mandatory and it is a long drive into an isolated area. Thus, my brother Jim and I picked up a Jeep rental at Farabee's and headed out one cold winter morning after sleeping overnight in below-freezing temperatures at the Eureka Sand Dunes.
Because it had been over five years since I had driven in the area, it took a little bit of extra time for me to locate the rough road which turns off of Saline Valley Road and heads down Marble Canyon in the northern Saline Range. Upon driving down Marble Canyon, we turned off to the right and drove through Jackass Canyon. This was one of the roughest sections of road that I have ever driven in the park. I was sure glad that we had the Jeep rental for climbing up this narrow canyon filled with challenging spots. At least the Jackass Canyon section was short and soon we were climbing up toward Jackass Flats on the Jackass Flats Road. Locating the parking area for Eureka Peak requires either previous knowledge of the area or preparing extensively beforehand by studying route maps. I had done the latter and we were able to navigate the confusing series of road junctions without much trouble until we parked the Jeep. As the hike started, we crossed a small valley and climbed up 300 feet in elevation to a saddle in the hills to the east. From there, we had a long, slow descent of 2 1/2 miles as we dropped 1,000 feet in elevation to a dry lake bed which has some nasty plants with small barbs that get caught on your socks and skin. This is where the challenging portion of the hike begins. From the dry lake bed, there are a series of three climbing sections which are divided by small valleys during which you give up some precious elevation. The first climb is 525 feet in elevation, the second is 500 feet, and the third (and final) is 775 feet. The terrain is slightly challenging as well, with the need to choose routes wisely and sometimes climb through gullies. When we arrived at Eureka Peak, we were greeted by one of the most spectacular sights we had ever seen in the park. In front of us was an incredible view of the Eureka Dunes with some colorful cliffs of the Last Chance Mountain Range in the background. It was definitely well worth the effort it took to carry out the hike, as we also had great views of Sandy BM, P6980, Marble BM, Dry Mountain, Saline Peak, Zinc BM, the Hidden Sand Dunes, and all of Eureka Valley. Because our hike started late, we ended up hiking halfway back in the dark. Temperatures plummeted and we had to keep moving in order to avoid being overcome by the cold. The stars were amazing and we ended up tracking Venus (and later Jupiter) in the sky as we hiked back. In total, the hike took 9 hours as we covered 12.4 miles RT. Our hike took place on January 24, 2015.
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