Telescope, Bennett, and Rogers Peaks

For my third day in California (5/30/16), I woke up around 0445 to make the drive to the Telescope Peak trailhead in Death Valley NP. Telescope Peak (11,049′) is the highest point in Death Valley, and towers over Badwater Basin (-282′), the lowest point in North America. So despite being about 3000 feet shorter than Colorado’s 14ers (in absolute terms), Telescope actually has about twice the base-to-summit height.

I didn’t start from Badwater, however. I took the much shorter route from Mahogany Flat campground – roughly 14 miles round-trip with 3300′ of gain.

Charcoal Kilns, just before the 4WD road

Charcoal Kilns, just before the 4WD road

The final 1.5 miles of road is rough gravel. A sign recommends high-clearance 4WD vehicles only. For what it’s worth, I made it up in my compact car with no issues. Passenger cars that park below this 4WD road would be looking at a 17 mile round-trip hike with ~4,000′ of gain.

The hike itself was 90+% on-trail. (I only went off-trail briefly to climb Bennett and Rogers Peaks on my return trip. Each can be done as a 20-30 minute detour by heading up the scree slopes.)

 

Map

Nothing about the hike was particularly challenging, but the views were fantastic. I only stopped a couple times on the way up, and reached the summit of Telescope in 2 hours 31 minutes.

Looking down into Badwater Basin from the slopes of Telescope Peak

Looking down into Badwater Basin from the slopes of Telescope Peak

I saw maybe 10-12 other people over the course of the day, most of them guys about my age solo-hiking.

Telescope Peak summit register

Telescope Peak summit register

The day was a little hazy, but I could still make out the Sierras in the distance to the west (the faint white line on the horizon in the picture above), and the Spring Mountain Range near Las Vegas to the east.

Summit of Bennett Peak, looking back toward Telescope Peak

Summit of Bennett Peak, looking back toward Telescope Peak

My return trip actually took longer than the initial climb, mostly because of the detours to climb Bennett Peak (9,980′) and Rogers Peak (9,994′).

Summit of Rogers Peak

Summit of Rogers Peak

Radio station atop Rogers Peak

Radio station atop Rogers Peak

After making it back to the car, I made the long drive back to Las Vegas to pick up my brother from the airport that evening. More to come.

Recap: 0725 start, 0956 summit of Telescope, 1252 finish

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Published in: on June 6, 2016 at 8:26 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Love the photo you took looking down towards Badwater Basin. How warm/hot was it that day? We had 123`F when we drove through Death Valley in July 2014.

    • It was probably low 80’s where I was hiking at 8-11k feet. Down in the valleys it was around 110 I think.


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