Marble Canyon  
Death Valley Backpacking
An Epic Experience
Trip Details

Type: Backpacking

Trip Code: DVMC

Duration: 4 Days

Distance: 26.5 mi/42 km

Fitness: 4
Comfort: 1
Solitude: 4

Origin: Las Vegas, Nevada

Cost: $1000/person

Trip Description:

Death Valley is perhaps the most outrageous landscape in North America.  Soaring peaks, extreme desert valleys, intimate canyons, lush wildflower blooms, and outstanding geology all combine to make Death Valley one of the finest destinations in the world for hiking, backpacking, and adventure.  Our Marble Canyon Traverse Backpacking tour features a connection of three of Death Valley's most scenic canyons, hiking and exploring surprising oases, ancient petrolgyphs, and excellent narrows of polished metamorphic rocks.  Death Valley is quintessential Mojave Desert, Basin and Range, and devastating beauty, and the Cottonwood Marble Canyon Connection was recently named one of "The Top 10 Most Beautiful Hikes in the USA" by

*If you're looking for outstanding winter adventure, Death Valley is the premier spot for you!

  1. Death Valley Bloom, Marble Canyon
  2. Dead Horse Canyon, Death Valley National Park
  3. Death Valley Vista, Death Valley National Park
  4. Marble Canyon, Death Valley
  5. Ancient Rock Art, Marble Canyon, Death Valley National Park
  6. Death Valley Vista, Dead Horse Point
  7. Marble Canyon, Death Valley National Park
  8. Death Valley Sunsets, Dante's View
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Trip Itinerary

Day 1:

The Death Valley Marble Canyon Traverse Backpacking Tour begins in Las Vegas, Nevada where your geologist/guide will grab you from your hotel and transport you out to Death Valley.  We will stop at the Ranger Station in Stovepipe Wells to procure our permit, then proceed up the 4wd trail to the confluence of Marble and Cottonwood Canyons.  The hike begins, after lunch of course, up the beautiful Cottonwood Canyon, where we cruise beneath gorgeous cottonwood trees on our way to a beautiful desert spring, where you will kick back while your geologist/guide sets up camp and prepares a tasty dinner.

Drive Time: 3.5 hours
Miles & Elevetion: 8.5 miles, 1300 foot ascent
Light Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 2:

Today is all about exploring Cottonwood Canyon in all of its glory.  After a nice breakfast, we continue down Cottonwood Creek and make camp at another natural spring.  After lunch, we'll doff our heavy packs and start our hiking exploration of this wonderful area, with options.  We can either snake into some excellent canyon narrows for an intimate canyon experience, or summit one of the several 4000 foot peaks that dot the landscape for outstanding views across the wilderness
Miles & Elevation: 3.5 miles plus exploring, 500 foot ascent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3:

Our third day takes us further into Cottonwood Canyon, then through wild and remote Dead Horse Canyon on our way to spectacular Marble Canyon.  There may not be the most mileage we've ever done, but what it lacks in distance it makes up for in adventurous terrain.  We will break out of the the dramatic canyon into a valley at the head of Cottonwood Canyon, then drop into Dead Horse Canyon, where we will do a short, but full geologist-style bushwhack to another quaint desert spring, which makes an inviting camp on a sandy beach for the evening.
Miles & Elevation: 6.5 miles, 1500 foot ascent, 1200 foot descent
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4:

Our final day hiking begins with sunrise yoga on the rocks, followed by what we've been waiting for, a gorgeous hike down spectacular Marble Canyon.  One of the most stunning canyons in the west, Marble Canyon is a treasure trove of fabulous geology, fossils, and ancient petrolgyphs.  If you're not an aspiring geology photographer before this, you almost certainly will be now!  Upon our exit from the narrows, we gain a dirt road that will lead us back to our shuttle.  We will then celebrate our epic trip like a geologist; with a cold beverage at a local watering hole.  Then we'll pack into the shuttle and head back to Las Vegas.​

Miles & Elevation: 8 miles, 1800 foot descent

Breakfast, Lunch
Drive Time: 3.5 hours

*Final itineraries are occasionally subject to change due to permit/campsite availability, park restrictions/closures, weather conditions and/or road closures.

What’s Included:
A professional, degreed, licensed and medically trained geologist/guide
All necessary gear: backpack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles
All cooking/eating gear: bowls, cups, utensils (your geologist/guide will prepare all trail meals)
All food, including a mix of fresh and pre-made backcountry meals
Roundtrip Transportation from your hotel in Las Vegas to Death Valley and all activities/attractions
Entrance fees, camping fees, and backcountry permits

Meals: what to expect
We provide all your meals from a light breakfast on day 1 through lunch the last day. Your geologist/guide will prepare a variety of meals on the trail that will fit the day's activity. Feel free to tell us about your food preferences, as we're more than happy to tailor the menu to your needs/desires. Some specialty diets may require an additional fee.

All meals will consist of one entree, prepared by your geologist/guide.  Fresh options will be limited, as backpacking typically requires lightweight, non-perishable foods.  There will be trail snacks that consist of nuts, fruits, chocolate, and other "gorp" style mixes.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee

What’s Not Included:
Transportation to/from Las Vegas, Nevada
Lodging the night before/after the trip
Clothing, raingear, and footwear
Personal toiletries, sunscreen
Water bottles/hydration bladder
Headlamp or flashlight
Guide gratuity (suggested 10-15% of trip cost)
*Upon booking you will receive a detailed trip information packet

How many people are in the group?
Most backpacking trips in Death Valley will accommodate 5 people plus one geologist/guide. On occasion, a group may be as large as 8 people plus 2 guides.

Are there age restrictions?
Children under 12 are generally not permitted on any of Blue Marble's scheduled trips.  This can be negotiable on private tours, please contact us to discuss this policy

How do I sign up?
In order to confirm a reservation , we require an initial deposit of $500 per person, with the final balance due 90 days prior to the trip’s departure. If you book a trip within 90 days of the trip’s scheduled departure, then full payment is due at the time of booking.  Your deposit is payable over the phone by Visa, MasterCard, AmEx, or Discover. Checks by mail are fine as well, as are bank transfers ($35 transfer fee). Call our office Monday to Friday, 9am to 4pm Arizona time. 1-602-904-2536
Travel Logistics

Where does the trip begin/end?
This trip will begin/end in Las Vegas, Nevada and you will need to spend the night prior to your trip’s scheduled departure in Las Vegas. You will want to fly into either St. George, Utah (2 hour drive) or Las Vegas. Please visit our  Travel Resources  page for information on airports, shuttles/rental cars and recommended hotels.

Where do you meet our guides?
We will hold a pre-trip orientation at 4:30pm the evening prior to your trip’s departure at the host hotel in Las Vegas. Departure times and logistics for the following morning will be discussed at the orientation.  Most trips will depart between 5am and 6am.

*This meeting is not mandatory, but highly recommended, as we will depart early the next morning. If you are unable to attend, please let us know in advance so that we can make alternate arrangements.

What do we do with our car and extra stuff?
We will provide all transportation to/from trailheads for the duration of the trip. We will pick you up at the host hotel in Las Vegas and return you there at the trip’s conclusion. Guests staying at the host hotel can leave their cars at the hotel. These hotels will often store your luggage for you, as well. If not, we are happy to store extra luggage at a secure location for the duration of the trip. If you are staying at a different hotel, you will need to check with them as to whether you can leave your car there

What time will we get back on the last day?
Expect to be back in Las Vegas by 6pm at the latest on the last day of the trip. Some trips will return earlier but we cannot make any guarantees. In general, it is recommended that you do not plan to fly home on the same day your trip finishes. Since each trip has slightly different logistics, feel free to contact us with specific questions related to the expected return time for your trip.

Trip Dates

2017 Dates
January: 22-25
February: 19-22
March: 5-8
​April: 5-8
November: 26-30
December: 27-31

2018 Dates
January: 22-25
February: 19-22
March: 5-8
November: 26-30
December: 27-31

More dates to come soon…
Don’t see your dates? Custom dates may be available!
Call 1-602-904-2536 or email us  for details.