I left Las Vegas at 4:30 AM hoping to arrive at the trail head around 7:30 AM. Everything went smoothly until at Death Valley Junction near the Amargosa Opera House Amargosa Opera House I ran into a roadblock. Take a look at the first couple of pictures at outdoorfiend.com. Apparently a couple of weeks earlier there had been some major flash floods through the area completely washing out miles of roads leading into the park from the south and south east. When I called my wife and asked her to guess what was the least likely reason I might not make the hike she correctly guessed, “a flood”.
Well, since I had been stymied before with this hike when I attempted to hike it in mid-February and couldn’t even make it to the trail head because of snow I wasn’t about to be turned around so easily. After consulting my own map and the map posted on the road block I decided to continue up the highway and pick up Rt. 95 and continue to Beatty, NV and then into the park from the east. On the way in, I passed the ghost town of Rhyolite, which I had visited probably 10 years before. If you have not been there and are in the area, it is certainly worth an hour or so of your time, Rhyolite. After the detour, I continued into the park and connected with Rt. 190. There was quite a bit of wind and a lot of dust in the valley of the park as you can see by the next couple of pictures in the photo gallery.
Do not forget to pay the user fee if you do not have a National Parks Pass at the self-service kiosk as you enter the park. If you want to support the National Parks system, buy a yearly pass on line at, Parks Pass.
I continued past Stovepipe Wells for 8 miles and made a left onto Emigrant Canyon Road. Follow this road for about 21 miles and make another left onto Wildrose Canyon Road. Be careful of Emigrant Canyon Road. It is very narrow in places and other drivers might not be as careful as you are coming around corners. Follow Wildrose Canyon Road for about 8 miles to the Charcoal Kilns. The road is paved until the last couple of miles but anyone in any type of car will have no problem making it. Just slow down when you get on the dirt/rock part. Use this link for a park map, Death Valley map.The road from the Charcoal Kilns up to the trail head at the Mahogany Flat campground is very steep and very rough. I have read other trip reports where it has been written that you can get there in a normal sedan but I would not recommend it. I made it in a Chrysler Pacifica because the rental car company was out of four-wheel drive vehicles. Even with the increased clearance that the Pacifica has from a normal sedan I had to go very slow and still scrapped bottom a couple of times. The road to the trail head is another couple of miles and I finally began my hiking journey at 8:40 AM.
I did the hike in 5 ½ hours. While it was not an easy hike, it certainly is well within the capabilities of most people that are reasonably fit. Just take your time, get started early, bring enough food and water and be careful on those sections of trail that are a bit dicey. In addition, most importantly, if you are hiking alone as I usually do, make sure that someone is going to miss you if you do not call them. I certainly enjoy the solitude and peace of hiking alone but I would not enjoy a broken leg and no one missing me.
After doing this you will be rewarded with an experience and view that more than likely 99% of the people you know have never and will never see. Not because they cannot but just because they did not just do it. Once you are there, you will realize the treasure they are missing.