Darwin Falls, Death Valley National Park

#14 of 28 in Parks in Death Valley National Park
Waterfall · Hidden Gem · Nature / Park
Darwin Falls is a waterfall located on the western edge of Death Valley National Park near the settlement of Panamint Springs, California. Although there exists a similarly named Darwin Falls Wilderness adjacent to the falls, the falls themselves are located in and administered by Death Valley National Park and the National Park Service. There are several falls, but they are mainly divided into the upper and lower, with a small grotto in between. At a combined 80 feet (24 m), it is the highest waterfall in the park. The canyon is walled by dramatic plutonic rock.

Darwin Creek is one of the four perennial streams in three million-acre (12,000 km²) Death Valley National Park. Darwin Falls and Creek are fed by the Darwin Wash, which is in turn fed by the volcanic tableland of the Darwin Bench between the Inyo Mountains and the Argus Range. The small, narrow valley where the creek and falls are located features a rare collection of riparian greenery in the vast desert and is home to indigenous fauna such as quail. The falls themselves support several small fern gullys.

Darwin Falls, the Darwin Falls Wilderness, the nearby town of Darwin, California, and all other areas named "Darwin" in the vicinity are named after Dr. Darwin French (1822–1902), a local rancher, miner, and explorer.

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Darwin Falls reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
135 reviews
  • The dirt road to get to the trailhead is bumpy but any sedan should be able to make it just fine. Go slowly. It's a 2 mile round trip and in April there was water flowing. About half of the hike is...  more »
  • This is at the entrance to the park when coming from the Ca side. It is the perfect way to get warmed up for the Valley! The road is not marked well and is a dirt road for 2.5 miles. The trail itself....  more »
  • Hidden gem in the middle of the desert. Such a surreal and stunning place! Takes quite a while to get there (the 2mi road took us >30 min due to its condition) but it's so much worth it! Since this is an important ecosystem for the animals around, please treat it with respect and care!
  • It's almost surreal, entering this ravine in the middle of the desert that gets progressively greener and cooler, and eventually running water appears and finally after a modest scramble over rocks and mud (I did see a few elderly people turn back owing to the unsteady footings in spots, so be prepared for that), coming to the falls themselves. It's pretty amazing. Road out there isn't terrible, but it's not great. We made it in our stupid little Prius, but you'd do far better in a truck. Also highly recommended.
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