Trail Canyon, Lower Slopes of Wildrose Peak, Death Valley

Trail Canyon, Lower Slopes of Wildrose Peak, Death Valley
Trail Canyon, Lower Slopes of Wildrose Peak, Death Valley

Trail Canyon, Lower Slopes of Wildrose Peak. Death Valley National Park, California. March 30, 2011. © Copyright G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Afternoon shadows fall across the lower slopes of Wildrose Peak above Trail Canyon and below Aguereberry Point, with Death Valley and the Black Mountains beyond.

The view from Aguereberry Point (and from this location close to the point) is spectacular and expansive, taking in everything from Death Valley itself, stretching almost 180 degrees from left to right, to the Green, Black, and other mountains beyond. To the south and north other ranges merge with the atmospheric haze. The peaks of the Panamint range lie behind, and in places where the view is clear you can look down on the rugged terrain of the east face of the Panamint Range with its rugged ridges and deep canyons dropping towards the Valley. This photograph looks roughly southeast towards the lower end of Death Valley in the area around Ashford Mill. The deep foreground canyon, the bottom of which is just visible at lower right, is Trail Canyon. I understand that a four-wheel-drive road used to come up to Aguereberry Point via that canyon, but that parts have washed out and it can no longer be driven. I think that you can hike it, but that would be one heck of a climb since the base of the canyon can’t be more than a few hundred feet above Death Valley (which is below sea level in this area) and the Point is well above 6000′. The lower slopes of Wildrose Peak rise beyond the canyon.

Surprisingly, this view presents several photographic challenges. Because of the haze that appears when such great distances are part of the scene, I chose to use a polarizing filter for this shot. Timing is important here, too. Arrive a bit too early and the light is harsh and flat. Arrive a bit too late and the foreground ridges are quickly enveloped in shadows as the sun drops behind the crest of the Panamint Range. (Yes, I have made both mistakes in the past.) Knowing this, I arrived a bit earlier than I might have usually arrive to shoot evening light and I managed to photograph the scene before that Panamint Range shadow obliterated the foreground light.

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5 thoughts on “Trail Canyon, Lower Slopes of Wildrose Peak, Death Valley”

  1. Yes, there was a 4 wheel drive road from Trail Canyon up to the top at Aguereberry Point. It was built around 1954 by Manny Nichols who had a mining camp at the end of Trail Canyon. While his relatives were settling his estate in 1957 I vilved with them at the camp that summer. We trucked our drinking/cooking water in from Wildrose Springs, but used the alkali water for showers and mining operations. The road was a real thrill to drive, I managed it in a 1954 regular transmission Mercury. We figured the grade was an overall 22%, using topographical maps. Loved your photo, wish I had taken more time with my photography then. I last drove the grade in 1972 and when there in 2006 I also found the road washed out. Even more startling tho was the destruction at Wildrose Sta and how badly it was trashed.
    Bob Wright, Garden Corners MI

    1. Bob, thanks for sharing that! I’ll bet you have a ton of stories to tell… Folks like me who visit these areas think of them as “historical” and try to imagine what it might have been like to actually work and live there before the place was a park, but you don’t have to imagine.

      I’ll bet that the road was, as you put it, “a thrill to drive,” especially in your Mercury. Today few would try to venture into such places today without a high clearance four-wheel drive vehicle. We are a bunch of softies!

      The trashing of these old sites is something I just cannot understand. How someone would get some sort of satisfaction from messing up or even destroying these old sites is beyond me.

      Take care,


  2. I love this shot Dan. I understand the the difficulty introduced by the distant haze but you have managed it well by including the tack sharp foreground elements. I like the depth of this shot.

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