Mosaic Canyon

Horizontally striated rock walls rise from the bottom of a sparsely vegetated desert wash.
Explore Death Valley geology within the rugged walls and polished narrows of Mosaic Canyon.

NPS/E. Letterman

Quick Facts
Death Valley National Park
Hiking Route

Parking - Auto, Trailhead

Narrows, scrambling, and dryfalls make this hike a memorable adventure. 

Mosaic Canyon is the perfect hike for geology lovers, and those seeking adventure. Here, hikers are greeted almost immediately by slick, winding narrows. Mosaic Canyon is the site of frequent flash floods (do not enter if there is a chance of rain!), and these narrows have been polished smooth by the scouring of debris-laden flood water. 

As you proceed up the canyon, keep an eye out for the incredible mosaic breccia for which the canyon is named. Breccia is the scientific term for rock created by the natural cementing together of older smaller pieces of rock, and many examples of this can be viewed along the hike.

The route varies in length depending on how much scrambling hikers want to do. Many people stop at the boulder jam approximately 1.3 miles (2 km) up the canyon, but it is possible to continue past this obstacle and continue through more narrows and open canyon, until the way is ultimately blocked by an impassable 25 ft (7.6 m) dryfall.  

Located just west of Stovepipe Wells Village off CA-190, the trailhead for this hike is at the end of an unpaved access road typically passable by sedans.  


Round Trip Length: 4 miles (6.4 km) 
Round Trip Time: 2.5-3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft (366 m)
Trail Type: Out and back route
Location: The end of the 2.3 mile (3.7km) unpaved Mosaic Canyon Road located near Stovepipe Wells Village across from Stovepipe Wells Campground 
Parking: Large gravel parking area. Buses and large RVs not recommended.
Closest Restroom: Stovepipe Wells Village at the general store and restaurant. Do not leave toilet paper in the canyon.
Route: The route follows the canyon through several narrows and involves some scrambling. A 25ft (7.6m) vertical dryfall in a dramatic amphitheater marks the turn-around point.  

Note: pets are not allowed on any trail in Death Valley National Park, even if carried. Do not leave your animal in your vehicle. Speak with a ranger about one of the incredible dirt roads where you may walk your pet.

Death Valley National Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024