|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – April 2008
Badlands, peaks, wildflowers: Catch the best of the California desert with this trio of hikes.
Escape to High, Cool Peaks
In midsummer, when the valley floor sizzles at 120°F, Death Valley's summits average 40 degrees cooler. Scale the Panamint Mountains' 9,064-foot Wildrose Peak, where the view encompasses the Lower 48's highest and lowest points (14,505-foot Mt. Whitney and minus-282-foot Badwater Basin, respectively). The 8.4-mile round-trip begins at Wildrose Campground. The first mile traces an old roadbed through piñon-juniper forest, then scales an open ridgeline for 2.2 miles. The 2,200-foot climb tops out on a rocky grandstand overlooking immense plains framed by spiky mountain ranges. Hike up high in early spring, and you'll get a bird's-eye view of hundreds of square miles of wildflowers.