Death Valley December 2013

December 31, 2013


This is the beginning of our adventures in our new rig, a 2005 Dodge Ram 2500 with a 2012 XPCamper. Our first trip was to Death Valley where we camp regularly nearly every winter, but this time we decided to explore some canyons we’d never seen.

XPCamper Overlooking Death Valley

We came in from the south, through Baker, and drove up the West Side Road to Johnson Canyon Road. The road was really a wash with 4″-6″ river rocks for the first .4 miles then turned into more of a boulder strewn rough class 2 road. Typical of six miles of this road

About 6.5 miles in, we had run out of daylight and passable road, at least as passable as we were comfortable with. This Ford probably should have made the same decision we did.End of the road for this Ford

We probably could have gone further but with this being the first time we had this rig in 4wd we thought we’d save the rest of that canyon for another day. Our first night sleep in the XP was nice. It was toasty warm inside and very nice having “indoor plumbing” on a camping trip.



From Johnson Canyon, we headed north through Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells and on to Cottonwood Canyon. It’s always funny driving past the “campgrounds” there. They are nothing more than parking lots with hookups. I don’t understand why someone would leave the comfort of their home to “live” in a smaller space even more crowded than their neighborhood but to each his own.

The road to Cottonwood Canyon started from the Stovepipe airstrip and is sandy and dusty for about eight miles, graded well. Then it turned into much of what Death Valley back country roads are like, rocky, Class 2 trails strewn with boulders from small to large.




A total of 18.5 miles from the airstrip we had gone as far as we were comfortable and found a nice flat spot along side the road next to a most amazing cairn.







The next morning we had a nice  hike to the end of the road, which was only another .2 miles, and up into Cottonwood Canyon. This is an amazing area most Death Valley visitors will never get to experience. We plan on going back in the spring to see the trees with the full green foliage.




There is a large nest in the top hole in this rock. It must be from a very large bird of prey, judging by the size.IMG_1685





From the end of Cottonwood Canyon we drove back about 6.5 miles to Marble Canyon.





And camped about 2.5 miles up the canyon at the end of the road.




With this being the first day on this trip we camped before dark, we had some time to relax and enjoy the camper. 





Making popcorn without a microwave is possible, kids.



The next morning we hiked to the end of Marble Canyon, about 1.2 miles up. It was an easy hike up a gravel wash with some elevation gain but pretty easy overall. Our youngest was not feeling well and electing to rest instead of hike.

IMG_1739 IMG_1744IMG_1757 IMG_1775

With one short fork about half way up that ends at a wall (at least for us). IMG_1760

The main fork ends at a boulder that stopped us from going further up the trail. This trail eventually connects to Cottonwood Canyon. We saw several backpackers making the trek from there the day before.



… but that boulder didn’t stop us from having a little fun.



Not all of us thought the boulder was all that heavy.


After our fun we hiked back down to the camper, loaded up and drove home.


  1. Comment by Trisha

    Trisha Reply December 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Love it! The truck, your first trip and the blog. Good job.

  2. Comment by Jon

    Jon Reply January 5, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    This is awesome Ash keep it up.

  3. Comment by Günter and Sissi

    Günter and Sissi Reply January 5, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    Great Pictures! Great camper. We have one too and did Goler Wash and Mengel Pass with it.
    Southeast Death Valley.
    Fun to be had haha. Save travels to you!

  4. Comment by Günter and Sissi

    Günter and Sissi Reply January 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    I meant: we have an XP Camper too!

    • Comment by admin

      admin January 5, 2014 at 10:01 pm

      I think we may have passed you on Hwy 190. We were headed west from Stovepipe Wells and you were headed east. We managed a wave and you managed a wave and a honk. I had never seen an XP on the road and there we were passing one in ours!

  5. Comment by James

    James Reply January 6, 2014 at 2:13 pm

    Nice writeup!

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