Mosaic Canyon

Death Valley National Park, California

Distance1.7mi
Elevation Gain1,445ft
Trailhead Elevation959ft
Top2,047ft
Elevation Min/Max959/2047ft
Elevation Start/End959/959ft
Mosaic Canyon is a hiking trail in Inyo County, California. It is within Death Valley National Park. It is 1.7 miles long and begins at 959 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 3.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 1,445 feet.

Mosaic Canyon Professional Reviews and Guides

"Mosaic Canyon is a showcase of geologic wonder, so hiking into the canyon is like walking into a museum. Patterned walls of multicolored rock and water-sculpted formations await you in this picturesque northern Tucki Mountain canyon.

Like other canyons in Tucki Mountain, Mosaic Canyon is alternately wide and narrow. The wider spots are more numerous and broad enough almost to qualify as inner valleys. Often hikers arrive at these open areas and turn back, figuring the canyon excitement has ended. With plenty of water and a broad-brimmed hat, you can continue exploring the depths of Mosaic Canyon. If it’s a hot day, be aware that this is not a deep, shady canyon like those in the Grapevine and Funeral Mountains. This canyon offers little protection from the sun."

"The fault in the Tucki Mountains that produces Mosaic Canyon consists of mosaic breccia and smooth Noonday formation dolomite, formed in a sea bed 750 to 900 million years ago. After being pressurized and baked at more than 1000 degrees F, then eroded, the resulting rock has startling contrasts of both texture and color. Mosaic Canyon drains more than 4 square miles of the Tucki Range, so it is to be avoided, like all canyons, in flash flood conditions. Rushing water, carrying its load of scouring boulders, has created smooth marbleized waterways out of the otherwise lumpy breccia. Silky surfaces gradually change to rugged lumps from the canyon floor up its walls, reflecting the varying depths of floodwaters. Like other canyons in Tucki Mountain, Mosaic Canyon is alternatively wide and narrow. The wider spots are more numerous, and are broad enough almost to qualify as valleys. Often parties of hikers arrive at these open areas and turn back, figuring that the canyon excitement has ended. With plenty of water and a broad-brimmed hat, you can continue exploring the depths of Mosaic. A long out-and-back day hike up a deep, narrow canyon in the Cottonwood Mountains, with colorful rock formations, petroglyphs, and expansive views of remote backcountry."

"Patterned walls of multicolored rock and water-sculpted formations await you in this picturesque canyon near Stovepipe Wells. If you go here you’ll discover why Mosaic is one of the most popular canyons in the park. The fault in Tucki Mountain that produced Mosaic Canyon consists of mosaic breccia and smooth Noonday Formation dolomite, formed in a seabed 750 to 900 million years ago. After being pressurized and baked at more than 1,000°F, then eroded, the resulting rock has startling contrasts of both texture and color.

Mosaic Canyon drains more than 4 square miles of the Tucki Range, so it is to be avoided, like all canyons, in flash-flood conditions. Rushing water, carrying its load of scouring boulders, has created smooth marbleized waterways out of the otherwise lumpy breccia. Silky surfaces gradually change to ragged lumps from the canyon floor up its walls, reflecting the varying depths of floodwaters."

"This round-trip day hike follows a narrow, highly scenic canyon on the north slopes of Tucki Mountain, just south of Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. The myriad canyons in the mountains of Death Valley National Park offer endless opportunities for both day hiking and venturing deep into mountain ranges on extended backpacks. Erosion in the often narrow canyons has exposed the rock strata in intricate detail, particularly in Mosaic Canyon, one of the most easily accessible canyons in Death Valley."

Mosaic Canyon Reviews

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3/13/2012
Easy hike through a very scenic canyon. If you like geology, you will truly enjoy this hike - you will see everything from highly polished granite walls and mosaic-like sediments to giant boulders that have been pushed into rock walls by past flash floods. The trail was busy with hikers so try to do it first thing in the morning.
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2/21/2011
The sedimentary layers are spectacular. Kind of slick with a excited 6 year old running around on the marble and quartz, but worth it. The kids liked how the trail narrowed.
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3/5/2010
A wonderful hike; although the most breathtaking part is in the first little bit, you will be rewarded going on, up and over a couple of short dry falls to the impassable end. (At one point it appears you might have come to the end but, instead, you can crawl up to the left and then walk ahead and right back to the trail.)
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3/11/2009
This is a pretty busy canyon, but is a great short walk if you have an hour or two. It starts out narrow, walking single file through smooth marble walls. It quickly opens up into a wide valley with occasional scrambles around passages blocked by boulders. Very interesting dry waterfall at the end of the hike. On our way back, we scrambled up the north side of the canyon wall for an amazing view up into the canyon and out over Stovepipe Wells and the valley.
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4/26/2008
We did this one on a weekend with 100F+ temps and it was still very bearable. Quite a few welcome shady spots and great geology - very smooth and stripy rock formations.
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Review Submitted by Bill & Teresa Kettler Very beautiful and interesting area, do this one early in the day to avoid the heat. The canyon wall a marble-like rock mixed with colorful mosaic patches of agglomerated fragments, worn smooth by the countless floods that occasionally flow through the canyon as a result of storms in the mountains beyond. After a few hundred meters of narrow, twisting passageways the ravine turns to the south, opens out and although quite different that the marble walls seen earlier in the hike is just as beautiful. The walk through this lower section takes only 15 minutes.
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Mosaic Canyon Photos

Trail Information

Death Valley National Park
Nearby City
Death Valley National Park
Parks

Activity Feed

Jun 2018