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Grotto Canyon - Death Valley National Park

Summary: A very pretty canyon with multiple fun climbing challenges located just east of Stovepipe Wells Village and Mosaic Canyon.
Directions: Drive west on CA 190 about 2.5 miles from Stovepipe Wells Village (just outside of the sand dune viewing area) to a somewhat faint dirt road leading up towards Tucki Mountain to the south. The road heads up the hill for 1 mile before dropping into the wash of Grotto Canyon (be careful not to get stuck in the deep gravel). I drove another 0.5 miles up the wash and parked, though if you're truly lazy you can drive another 0.5 mile right to the start of the narrows.
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle
Navigation: Easy
Length: 3 - 5 hours
Date Hiked: November 2004
Weather Conditions: Cool and sunny
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From wherever you parked, walk up to the start of the narrows and your first climb, a 15 foot somewhat smooth slope, followed by a 10 foot falls with an undercut lip (a little tricky). Just beyond are some nice narrows which soon end at a 50 foot dry fall. Retrace your steps and look for a fairly well traveled route around this obstacle on canyon right (the right side of the canyon when facing down stream). More nice narrows in polished gray rock and more climbs may be found above, until you reach a 15 foot drop formed by a large chock stone wedged in the canyon. Good climbers can climb up just to the right (facing up canyon) of the chock stone. The canyon forks above this climb. The left fork soon ends in a 40 foot dry fall, which can be bypassed with a lot of hassle on the right. But it's not worth it since you'll be faced with more falls immediately above. The right fork ascends through more shallow narrows up a series of fun little climbs, one of which will eventually block your progress. Return the way you came. 
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed the hike above, exploring up each fork of Grotto Canyon as far as we could and back in 3.5 hours.
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Death Valley National Park
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.

The grotto and first climb. At the top of the first climb.
Grotto Canyon narrows. More nice narrows.