This was our favorite hike of 2017. Sidewinder Canyon is a rugged barren, deep canyon penetrating into the hills above, but there are 6 side slot canyons, several natural bridges, and a number of side routes to explore, worth a whole day on the trail.
Sidewinder Canyon is in the Black Mountains in Death Valley National Park. The trailhead is 50 km km south of Furnace Creek. A short dirt road goes off the main road. The Sidewinder Canyon trail starts on the right side of the parking area. The trail bears south through the fan conglomerate wash before heading up the canyon.
Before heading into the narrow canyon there are fine views into Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North American. We hiked over the hills and came down the canyon, but when we return we will go up the canyon, exploring as we go.
The highlight of this hike are 3 of the 6 slot canyons. Each is different, but many sections are narrow passages, some dark, some with obstacles to bypass, some with arches or natural bridges, and all with opportunities to explore.
One side canyon was quite long, winding, and narrow. I scrambled to the top and emerged into the daylight in an upper side canyon.
The rocky walls were mostly conglomerates with boulders wedged into the cemented materials.
Photography in the slots takes some practice. If we get even one bright spot, the whole exposure can be ruined. Other spots are too dark and require a tripod or a very steady hand. The best light is reflected light