Mosaic Canyon is one of the most popular canyons and tourist destinations in Death Valley as it has beautifully polished narrows located only a short distance from the parking area. Difficulties encountered on the hike include avoiding peak visitation times during the day to minimize the amount of tourists encountered, route finding to access the Mosaic Rim Trail if one wishes to use the loop route, and extreme caution while passing over a couple of washed-out crossings on the bypass trail which connects the canyon floor to the Rim Trail. A topographical map of the hiking route (turned to the northeast for better viewing) can be found by clicking on the button above. GPS coordinates for the end of the passable lower canyon are 36.558219, -117.128666. GPS coordinates for the beginning of the bypass are 36.558434, -117.129515. GPS coordinates for the Rim Trail junction are 36.559220, -117.129036.
Mosaic Canyon has been one of the most visited places for our groups on Death Valley trips over the years. We have taken a number of hikes there, gradually exploring more and more of the canyon until I ultimately found my way into the upper canyon beyond the 2nd major dry fall located at the beginning of the 3rd Narrows. I think this is probably one of the main canyons which also helped me to become an established "canyon hiker" in the park. In the lower part of the canyon, especially in the 1st Narrows, Mosaic Canyon can become very crowded with tourists. It can definitely take away some of the enjoyment of being in the canyon. To beat the overcrowding, the secret is to hike the canyon early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If you want to hike a fair distance into the canyon, of course, you will have to start in the morning. The hike through Lower Mosaic Canyon can actually be done as a loop hike, but doing this requires experience in route finding and carrying out a somewhat challenging bypass. There is a bypass trail which connects the canyon floor to the Mosaic Rim Trail. Using this bypass can be hard because there are a couple of washed-out sections which have now become treacherous crossings. So exercise caution when using the bypass trail and if something feels unsafe, be sure to turn around and head back down to the canyon wash. This report covers the 1st and 2nd Narrows of Mosaic Canyon, while the report on Upper Mosaic Canyon covers the 3rd and 4th Narrows, which very few people have ever seen. At the end, you will see some pictures that I took from the 1st Narrows overlook trail, which provided some excellent views into those narrows. Most of our pictures were taken on hikes which took place on March 18, 2006, March 11, 2009, and March 19, 2011.
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