Death Valley National Park, Part 3: Mosaic Canyon

After we left Ubehebe Crater we attempted to hike into Titus Canyon Narrows, but with a mile the sky darkened and the wind picked up dramatically as a rain storm came over the mountains. Knowing that the worst possible place to be in a rain storm is a narrow canyon, we turned around. Once we exited the canyon we drove south towards Stovepipe Wells since it appeared to be clearer in that section of the valley. The closer we got to the outpost however the windier it got and with the dark rain clouds moving our way we did the only sensible thing and had a beer.

Our plan worked out perfectly because by the time we were finishing our beer, the worst of the storm had blown over and we decided it was safe to head to our next hike in Mosaic Canyon. I had read that this canyon had unique polished walls but we were completely unprepared for the perfectly smooth marble that coated the sides. Buffed by centuries of water, the metamorphosed limestone is absolutely gorgeous, undulating as it snakes it’s way upstream. The sections of smoothed marble are, interestingly, interspersed with fragments of rock that are cemented into parent stone; these mosaic-like pieces give the canyon its name.

The canyon climbs steadily back towards the mountains it drains, and we stepped up over multiple limestone lips and dry falls as we hiked. After about a mile the narrows widened for a few hundred yards but then closed in again dramatically, ultimately blocking our route by a 20 foot dry fall. Our walk in Mosaic Canyon was really just neat – very unique, and full of small surprises and interesting sites – and we ended up being glad we’d waited out the rain.

Road through Titus Canyon Narrows, Death Valley National Park, California

Road through Titus Canyon Narrows, Death Valley National Park, California

Entrance to Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Entrance to Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Looking back to trailhead in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Looking back to trailhead in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Beginning to see the marble, Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Beginning to see the marble, Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Smoothed marble walls of Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Smoothed marble walls of Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Marble and conglomerate side by side in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Marble and conglomerate side by side in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Tom and Abby ahead of me in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Tom and Abby ahead of me in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

View back to the valley from Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

View back to the valley from Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Layers of marble in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Layers of marble in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

“Mosaic” fragment in wash, Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

“Mosaic” fragment in wash, Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Marble in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

Marble in Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

The shadows add amazing tones and dimensions to the palette of Death Valley. Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California

The shadows add amazing tones and dimensions to the palette of Death Valley. Mosaic Canyon, Death Valley National Park, California