darwin falls, death valley hikes

Darwin Falls: Easy Death Valley Hike to Waterfall

HIKE TO: Darwin Falls
TRAIL: Darwin Falls Trail
MILES: 2 miles
TIME: 1 hr
DATE I WENT: 4/9/22
ELEVATION: 2,882 ft
PARKING PERMIT: National Parks Pass
LOCATION: Death Valley National Park

*Nov 2023 update: The dirt road leading to the trailhead may be washed out from the record-breaking rainfall in August 2023. I’d recommend calling the visitor center for current conditions*

Darwin Falls Death Valley

Darwin Falls is a picturesque 18 ft waterfall in Death Valley National Park, California. It is a popular destination for visitors who want to escape the scorching heat of the desert and enjoy the beauty of nature. The waterfall is fed by a natural spring, which flows year-round and provides a refreshing oasis in the middle of the arid landscape of the Mojave Desert. To reach the falls, visitors must hike a short trail that leads through a narrow canyon and over boulders to the base of the falls. Despite its remote location, Darwin Falls is a must-see attraction for anyone visiting Death Valley.

Best Time to Visit Death Valley

Winter and early Spring are typically the best times to visit Death Valley National Park due to the extreme heat in the summer, but temperatures can reach as warm as 90 degrees in as early April. However, if you can handle slightly warmer daytime temps, April is a nice time to visit.

I would only recommend visiting Death Valley June – September if you plan to hike and explore around sunrise and sunset, otherwise you’ll likely be seeking out shade mid-day. Although Darwin Falls runs year-round, avoid hiking in the middle of the day.

How Long is Darwin Falls Trail?

Darwin Falls Trail is a very short hike. It’s only one mile, one way, and mostly flat.

Darwin Falls Trailhead

The trailhead is located 2.5 miles off the Old Toll Road. This is a dirt road that is typically passable by sedans.

Coming from the west on the 395 hwy, you’ll drive the CA-190 and turn off onto the Old Toll Road just before you reach Panamint Springs.

The parking lot is a very small dirt lot that is unmarked, but there is a sign with some trail information.

Darwin Falls Hike

Darwin Falls is a relatively easy hike in Death Valley National Park located a bit more remote on the outskirts of the park.

The Darwin Falls Trail is unmarked and follows a canyon until you reach the spring-fed falls. It is a relatively flat two-mile out-and-back hike. The trail starts flat, open with no shade, can be a bit sandy, and it will eventually enter into some trees and shades once the canyon narrows along with a few boulders to maneuver around.

Overall, this hike is very exposed to the sun and Death Valley can get really warm in the daytime as early as April so even though it’s a short and flat hike, avoid doing it in the middle of the day.

This hike is kid-friendly and a unique experience compared to the rest of Death Valley National Park but it is still part of the NPS so no pets are allowed.

Can you swim at Darwin Falls?

You cannot swim in the water or drink from it either as it is the drinking source for nearby Panamint Springs Resort

Other hikes in Death Valley & Waterfalls in CA you might like

Sun Protection Hiking Gear Essentials

summer gear essentials for hiking

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