Kit Fox Hills, Stovepipe Wells Access Road, Death Valley National Park, California
Kit Fox Hills - 10.2 miles
Stovepipe Wells Access Road
|Round-Trip Length:||10.2 miles (No Trail - Cross Country Travel Required)|
|Start-End Elevation:||72' - 1,465' (1,465' max elevation)|
|Elevation Change:||+1,393' net elevation gain (total roundtrip elevation gain varies with route)|
Kit Fox Hills - 10.2 Miles Round-Trip
The Kit Fox Hills cover approximately 25 square miles, generally trending SE-NW along Scotty's Castle Road. Low rising hills of loose dark gravel are cut by several large washes that provide natural passage to open bajadas beneath the Death Valley Buttes and Grapevine Mountains.
There are no maintained trails or marked routes through the Kit Fox Hills, however intuitive natural features, mild topography and proximity to major Park roads make Cross Country Travel a relatively safe endeavor for those comfortable in the isolated desert backcountry. Those who venture here will enjoy sensational panoramas, varied terrain, absolute solitude and a good chance of seeing wildlife.
The following Cross Country Route begins on Scotty's Castle Road at the Stovepipe Wells Access Road turnoff and runs northeast to its terminus at the 4.7 mile mark on Daylight Pass Road.
From Scotty's Castle Road, head NE toward the foothills. Use sandy drainages when possible to facilitate travel up this boulder-laden alluvial area. In .4 miles you'll reach the base of the foothills (230'); using the GPS points below, veer NE (right) into a major wash, which at first may be hidden by the hills, depending on your approach angle. Terrain and travel eases once in the wide wash, though views and location perspective are initially limited.
Rising steadily, you'll come to a major fork and bear left (1.4 miles : 500'). A low, divisive ridge at this fork is easily scaled; doing so provides useful perspective on the wash-network through which you're traveling, landscape ahead and good views of distant buttes and mountain ranges. At this point you can remain atop the fin-like ridge (which lines the wash) and follow it with equal navigational facility but markedly better views.
The ridgeline and wash will converge on the northeast fringe of the Kit Fox Hills, so there's little difference from a macro-routing standpoint. Consider alternating between the wash and ridgeline for a richer experience.
In approximately 3 miles the wash widens and hills lower, both ceding to a vast bajada extending from the Death Valley Buttes and Grapevine Mountains (this is a good turnaround point for those not keen on completing the full out-and-back route). Here you'll enter open space dotted with creosote and hardy desert scrub, home to jackrabbit, kit fox, coyote and chuckwalla.
Using nearby buttes for guidance, continue northeast on a steady uphill grade through rocky terrain braided with minor gullies and washes. By now you may have noticed an old dirt road to the east; this is not Daylight Pass Road, however intact segments can be followed for brief periods to expedite travel, and will connect with Daylight Pass Road at its 4.7 mile mark.
No matter the specific route, your general destination is now clear and panoramic views astonishing. From mile marker 4.7 on Daylight Pass Road (5.1 miles : 1,465'), retrace your steps back to the parking area on Scotty's Castle Road.
- N36 40.133 W117 04.435 — Trailhead on Scotty's Castle Road
- N36 40.404 W117 04.231 — .45 miles : Hook right into main wash
- N36 40.527 W117 03.732 — 1.0 mile mark - continue up wash
- N36 40.670 W117 03.360 — 1.4 miles : Major fork in wash - bear left
- N36 40.957 W117 02.115 — 2.6 miles (approx) : Continue up wash
- N36 41.421 W117 01.292 — 3.6 miles (approx) : Heading NE up open bajada
- N36 41.824 W117 00.395 — 4.6 mile : Continue NE up bajada
- N36 42.023 W116 59.930 — 5.1 miles : Route terminus on Daylight Pass Road
- Only experienced hikers with good map skills should attempt Cross Country Travel in Death Valley. Extra water and full sun protection are imperative. Always let a 3rd party know of your plans and intended route.
- The route need not be completed in full to capture its essence; consider turning around at the 3 mile mark, or a two-car shuttle system.
- Distances will vary by individual route. GPS points provided here offer guidance but should not be solely relied upon.
- Bound by the Northern Death Valley Fault Zone (southwest) and unnamed faults (northeast), the Kit Fox Hills span a tectonically active area.
Directions to Trailhead
The route described above begins at the Stovepipe Wells Access Road turnoff from Scotty's Castle Road. The informal roadside parking area is located approximately 3.5 miles north of Highway 190 on Scotty's Castle Road.
Death Valley National Park
P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328