The seldom-traveled southern tip of Death Valley National Park offers an intimate desert experience amongst sand dunes, jagged hills, a 19th century talc mine, and a palm tree oasis.
Beginning at Harry Wade Road, this route rounds the base of Saddle Peak Hill and then climbs north through a narrow, secluded valley. (Views of the dunes appear as you round the hill.) As hikers near Ibex Dunes, the sand becomes softer and post-holing becomes the norm. Skirt the western perimeter of the dunes and walk through a narrow cut in the Saddle Peak Hills. The terrain gets increasingly more hard-packed as the route climbs gradually and slices between rolling ridges to the east and hills to the west.
After 5 miles, reach a real-life oasis. Ibex Spring is a tiny pocket of palm trees situated on the eastern slope of a rocky hillside. From here, follow an old mining road through a narrow gap in the hills. A broad wash sits between Black and Ibex Hills. Continue along the rutted wash toward the abandoned mine, using the hill’s white talc stains as a directional guide. No designated campsites or potable water are available. Choose an elevated site to avoid flash floods. Retrace steps back to Harry Wade Road in the morning.
-Mapped by Roger Homrich, the first person to thru-hike Death Valley Traverse.