Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
310.00 ft (94.49 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
5.00 mi (8.05 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Amargosa River follows a 185-mile course from Oasis Valley north of Beatty, Nevada, to an aquifer beneath Badwater Basin in Death Valley. However, the river flows mostly underground unless weather conditions are wet. While there are many visible signs of the river's course and past influence on the landscape such as the Amargosa Big Dune and a band between Dumont Dunes and the town of Shoshone, California, which is protected by National Wild And Scenic River status, the river only flows above ground year round in two places: from Oasis Valley through Beatty and along the Amargosa Canyon area near the town of Tecopa.

Amargosa Canyon is closed to vehicle traffic by roadblocks and natural barriers and protected by its Area Of Critical Environmental Concern status. It remains a wild landscape with a secluded location that ensures that it sees very little foot traffic. This has resulted in a trail that often lacks markers but that also sees very few visitors and will likely offer hikers a chance to get away from crowds and enter an unpopulated corner of the Mojave Desert.

With three access points (a spur trail from China Date Ranch and a gravel wash near Dumont Dunes being the others), the trailhead just south of the town of Tecopa offers the easiest access to the canyon. The trail begins at a sometimes-signed primitive trailhead and follows the bed of the former Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad that was used to haul ore to the main train lines further south until it was abandoned and the rails were stripped for the World War II efforts. The trail parallels the east side of the river heading from a wider valley into an area of dominant stone monuments towering above the river. Springs abound along the first portion of the trail; they are visible as seeps in canyon walls and feed the vegitation that squeezes the route in some sections.

At points the railroad has collapsed or been washed out, requiring some navigating to continue down the trail. The out-and-back route continues down, eventually being met by the spur trail from China Date Ranch. Mostly flat, the path allows hikers to go to a distance of their choosing before turning around. A wide half-mile diameter bowl surrounds a floodplain in the river that lies just over 2 miles into the trail, where colorful crimson Mojave stone is striped with bands of white, orange, and tan.

There is no cell service in this area and no water or amenities along the trail, so hikers should be prepared. 

Access to the trailhead is by heading south on a dirt road that begins immediately west of the Tecopa Post Office. The road is unsigned, but heading in a southeasterly direction will bring you to the corner where the trailhead is. It is also possible to walk to the trailhead from the post office area. 

Another adjacent spot that may appeal to hikers is Death Valley Brewing, located next to the Tecopa Post Office. Death Valley Brewing brews from a fresh water spring beside their building and flavors some of their beers with fruit and herbs collected in the area.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Fall

Congestion

Low

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Big vistas. Great access to the Amargosa River.

Cons

Trailhead can be hard to find.

Trailhead Elevation

1,335.00 ft (406.91 m)

Highest point

1,350.00 ft (411.48 m)

Net Elevation Gain

150.00 ft (45.72 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Big vistas

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

Field Guide

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