Easily One of the Best Surprise Locations in NPS
Death Valley National Park – Places to See – Darwin falls is one of our Must see places in the Entire USA, let alone Death Valley National Park. That might sound like a bit of a stretch for such a tiny waterfall, but trust us you don’t want to miss this Death valley oasis experience.
Darwin Falls in Death Valley is simply stunning water feature hidden in the canyons of Death Valley West boundaries. This simple two mile round trip hike follows the canyon floor in a very uninspiring region of the park until it explodes into an oasis of lush green vegetation.
Darwin Falls is not the largest waterfall, but the stark contrast of the lush green , water filled canyon of the park is simply spectacular.
At around 18 feet (5.5 m) tall, Darwin Falls is one of only a handful of year-round waterfalls in Death Valley National Park. The spring-fed water creates a truly special environment, allowing for the growth of trees, cattails, aquatic vegetation, and even ferns. Amphibians such as tree frogs and toads complete part of their lifecycle in these waters, and wildlife including bighorn sheep depend on the water’s flow for survival.
Wild Burros can be found in the canyons at time and the road into the parking area is a bit rough but can be traveled on by most vehicles. The trailhead for the falls is accessed via an unmarked gravel road 1.2 miles (2 km) west of Panamint Springs Resort and is not always passable by sedans; speak with a ranger about current road conditions before heading out.
I have been to my fair share of desert oases, but I can honestly say I’ve never been anywhere quite like Darwin Falls. This is a fairly short and easy hike, but the broad range of terrain and shocking amounts of greenery make this quick hike a must-do if you’re in the western edge of the National Park.Casey Schriener – Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Modern Hiker
Hike to Darwin Falls
HIKING NOT ADVISED AFTER 10AM IN THE SUMMER
Round Trip Length: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Round Trip Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 450 ft (137 m)
Trail Type: No official trail, unmarked out and back route
Location: Darwin Falls Road off CA-190 (2.5 mi/4km from turn off). Typically passable by sedans, but may be rocky and rutted and require a high clearance vehicle.
Parking: Small uneven dirt area, not recommended for RVs
Closest Restroom: No restrooms. The nearest facilities are located at the privately owned Panamint Springs Resort. Do not leave toilet paper near the trailhead or in the canyon.
Route: Unmarked route. Fairly flat but becomes rocky as it transitions from a gravely desert wash into a high walled canyon. Inside the canyon thick vegetation, stream crossings, and large slick rocks create obstacles requiring caution. Please protect this fragile resource by hiking only where a previous route exists. NO SWIMMING – this water is the drinking source for Panamint Springs Resort.