Marble Canyon in the Saline Range had been on my wish list of canyons to visit for the past five years.  What held me back was the remote location of the canyon in the park and also the lack of good information about the canyon and what to expect.  Pictures and details of the canyon were extremely hard to come by on the internet, although I did find at least one write-up with a couple of photographs.  Thus, I was very happy when Michel Digonnet released his new book "Hiking Western Death Valley", in which he included a very well written and researched chapter on Marble Canyon.  This was exactly what I needed to prepare for the hike and to motivate me to get out there and try it.  And now that I have hiked through Marble Canyon (Saline Range), I have to say that it deserves more respect and attention as an outstanding destination in Death Valley.  Instead of being forever known as "the other Marble Canyon" and being unfairly compared to its better known twin, this canyon stands strongly on its own.  What astonished me was the amazing beauty and variety of the rocks and canyon walls, particularly in the upper gorge and lower gorge.  You will see many examples of this in the pictures down below.  We ended up hiking through Marble Canyon on July 18, 2009. That is significant because as of the time of this writing, that was the hottest day recorded in Death Valley during 2009, with a temperature of 128F.  The night before the hike, we drove out Big Pine Road and turned off on Saline Valley Road.  Then, we turned off on Jackass Flats Road and drove it a short distance before we couldn't go any further.  We had the hardest time turning our truck around at that point, as it took about one hour.  But finally we did, and we found a place to park and set up camp for the night.  Early the next day, at 5:50am we began hiking down Marble Canyon starting at an elevation of 5,500 feet.  We hiked through the upper gorge and lower gorge and stopped 4 1/4 miles into the canyon.  At that point, the sun broke through the clouds and the heat started coming on full force.  We made it back to our truck at 11am when it was 91F, just in the nick of time before it got unbearably hot.  The ultimate destination for this hike would have been the canyon mouth, with its legendary view of the Hidden Dunes.  But wisely we knew our limits on the hottest day of the year.
Return to Home
We parked and camped just off the side of Jackass Flats Road in the Saline Range:
When we woke up in the morning, we hiked down canyon following the road until we reached this cabin:
After the cabin, the road disappears and we began hiking through the canyon wash:
The early part of the canyon is where the upper gorge begins:
Towering rocks and canyon walls, mixed in with rolling hills, were evident from the beginning:
A beautiful sunrise coming up over Marble Canyon:
Check out the sharp edges and designs in this rock formation jutting out from the canyon wall:
Steve getting his picture by this fascinating formation:
Walking through Marble Canyon is extremely interesting, as there is always something new to see around every corner:
This slab standing tall in the canyon kind of reminded me of something similar I found in Trellis Canyon:
I don't think I've ever found so many interesting formations to look at and photograph in any Death Valley canyon:
Another spectacular view looking down canyon as the sun continues to rise:
Looking out towards the end of the upper gorge and into the middle section of the canyon:
The next two photos show you the right side canyon wall located at the end of the upper gorge:
After we exited the upper gorge, we came out into the middle area, which is made up of rolling hills on each side of the canyon:
Along the way, we found various mining relics scattered throughout the wash:
A close-up of one of the hills.  There were no more marble rock walls for quite a while:
The next three photos show you the remains of a Model T which came to rest long ago in Marble Canyon:
View that the driver of the Model T would have had when his car got stuck driving through the canyon:
There were also quite a few claim markers on both sides of the canyon and in the middle:
We are now entering the lower gorge portion of Marble Canyon:
In the lower gorge, we spotted a pair of owls who were living in the canyon.  A picture of one of the owls can be seen on our Wildlife Page here on the site:
Looking up at the unique shapes comprising the canyon wall in the lower gorge:
This picture gives you an idea of the size of these walls.  Some of them tower far above you:
Continuing to head down the lower gorge with great anticipation:
The next seven pictures show you some of the spectacular scenery as we progressed further down canyon:
At this point, we have reached the short twin side canyons and are preparing to take a closer look:
Both side canyons were interesting but ended quickly.  This is the side canyon on the right:
Steve in the middle of two very close walls of the side canyon:
Now we are back out in the main canyon and heading further down.  This was about 3.7 miles into the canyon:
This pyramid shaped rock formation rose out of the middle of the canyon like a great wonder:
Steve making it up to the top of the pyramid formation:
Just beyond the pyramid formation, this was the view looking further down canyon:
Yet another interesting rock formation, this looks like a giant's staircase:
This rock wall was split down the middle, leaving two polished sides:
Getting close to the end of the lower gorge:
And this is the end of the lower gorge, 4 1/4 miles into the canyon past the cabin.  At this point, we turned around because it was starting to get very hot:
One final picture of Steve on the way back up Marble Canyon.  It would have been about another 2 1/2 miles to reach the canyon mouth with the view of Hidden Dunes, but it was way too risky in mid-summer: