On the Road Again: Springtime in Utah travel blog

Charcoal kilns at the trailhead to Wildrose Peak



View from the start of the trail

Indian paintbrush




Lunch on the trail (Spam)








At the peak

U.S. Geological Survey marker




Gas was expensive!

Today we stayed at our campsite in Panamint Springs, and drove to the trailhead for the Wildrose Peak trail. Wildrose Peak is in the central part of Death Valley. We wanted to take this trail because at the summit, you can see the highest and the lowest land in the lower 48 states. The highest is Mount Whitney, at 14,494 feet, and lowest is Badwater, in Death Valley, and 282 feet below sea level.

Right at the trailhead are 10 huge charcoal kilns. They look like giant beehives. There were used in the 1870s, but only for 3 years, to make charcoal for the smelters at a silver mine 30 miles away. For the first mile or so of the trail, you can see the stumps of the pinon pine, which was cut to make the charcoal.

Like Darwin Falls yesterday, the trail to Wildrose Peak is not what you’d expect in Death Valley. It winds steeply through a forest of pinon pine and juniper, and is mostly shady and pleasant despite being so steep. We saw spectacular rocks—green slate, striated quartz, pink granite and lots more we couldn’t identify. We also saw a number of rocks that were the exact shape of states—we identified IL, IN, OR, WA, VA, AL, MS, AR, AZ, NV and GE.

The views from along the trail and at the summit were breathtaking. There was almost no one else on the trail and we felt like we had Wildrose Peak to ourselves.

The hike was 8.4 miles. We started at an elevation of 6905 feet and ended at 9093 feet—a lot of climbing, up and down, but we had a great time and on our way back to the campsite saw a lonely herd of donkeys grazing on what little there is here in the desert for them to eat.

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