Little Bridge Canyon

Image of topographic map of hiking into Little Bridge Canyon
Topographic map of Little Bridge Canyon - Death Valley

NPS - Dan Kish

Length: 7 mile (11.2km) out and back, round trip
Time: 5 hours round trip
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation Gain: 1,900 ft (590m)
Location: CA-190 at milemarker 89 eastbound.
Parking: No official parking lot or signage. Park on the shoulder of the eastbound lane of CA-190 at milemarker 89. There is enough space for multiple vehicles, however large RV's are not recommended. Use caution along this high speed highway.
Closest Restroom: One mile (1.6km) east, vault toilets are located in Mesquite Dunes parking lot.

GPS Data: GPS data for the unmarked route is for supplemental purposes only. Take a map and compass when exploring the trail-less wilderness.
  • GPX file: (universal format for use in most mobile applications and GPS units).
  • KML file: (used with some mobile applications and Google Earth & Maps).
A steep alluvial fan dotted with green creosote bushes.
Route to Little Bridge Canyon.

NPS - Dan Kish

Route Description

Many canyons drain Tucki Mountain, the high mountain south of the highway. It's broad ridgeline slopes to the east and is riddled with numerous canyons. Finding Little Bridge without a trail or signs is perhaps a daunting challenge, but it's half the fun.

The Wash Approach (easier to navigate but a less exciting slog up the wash)
From the parking area, look to the east toward the 10 o’clock position, behind and to the left of the primary ridgeline of Tucki Mountain is a slightly obscured but smaller ridgeline in the distance. Trace the drainage from this gap in the ridgelines, a canyon entrance, back down toward the road and look for a small hill in the foreground which contains utility equipment on its southern slope. Head east toward the hill and then turn south up the wash 2.5mi (4km) to the canyon mouth. The bridge formation is an additional mile (1.6km) each way into the canyon. While this route is easy to follow, we recommend taking the direct approach (below) and save the wash route for your return.
A utility pole stands in a rocky desert wash with mountains in the background.
The utility pole is a good landmark in your cross country adventure.

NPS - Dan Kish

The Direct Approach (shorter, more scenic, but harder to navigate)
From the parking area start heading in the 10 o’clock direction; bearing 137°TN (true north)/124°MN (magnetic north) following a shallow wash which parallels the base of the mountains. Within 0.5mi (0.6km) you will reach telephone utility poles.

A desert wash with steep walls leads into a canyon.
Cross False Little Bridge Canyon and climb the gully up the other side.

NPS - Dan kish

From the utility poles, follow a southeast bearing of 163°TN /154°MN.. Approximately 0.5mi (0.8km) past the utility poles is a large wash with high walls. The character of this drainage makes it tempting to explore, but adventure into this dead end canyon is soon blocked by large falls. Avoid heading up this canyon and instread simply descend into the wash, cross it, and climb the gully up the other side. .

A hiker stands at the mouth of a canyon.
Mouth of Little Bridge Canyon

NPS - Dan Kish

Over the course of the next mile (1.6km) keep to higher ground and cross numerous minor washes along the way to the reddish mouth of Little Bridge Canyon.
A canyon wall is riddled with colorful veins of mineral deposits.
Walls of Little Bridge Canyon.

NPS - Dan Kish

Many hikers are surprised by the vibrant colors in Little Bridge Canyon. The mineral deposits appear as colorful veins along the white stretch of Eurkea Quartzite.
Mineral deposits create a swirl of colorful patterns in the canyon wall.
Little Bridge Canyon.

NPS - Dan Kish

The deposits range from bright yellow to deep red and are mostly forms of iron oxide.
An arch formation along a canyon wall.
Arch in Little Bridge Canyon.

NPS - Dan Kish

It's not only the colors in Little Bridge, it's the formations too!
A natural bridge extends from a canyon wall to the floor of the canyon.
Little Bridge

NPS - Dan Kish

The namesake of Little Bridge Canyon.
Sand dunes on the far horizon with a highway in the foreground.
Mesquite Sand Dunes

NPS - Dan Kish

The canyon does continue past Little Bridge, however this is the common end point for the hike. Return down canyon where great views of the sand dunes await.

Last updated: January 13, 2018

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Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328


760 786-3200

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