OverviewCorkscrew Peak is the towering sentinel of the Grapevine Mountains of northern Death Valley National Park. When looking northeasterly toward the mountains from Stovepipe Wells, Corkscrew Peak is an oddly shaped mountain that draws one's attention.
Often-climbed, this mountain is a worthy adversary for those coming to the valley in search of a good time in the mountains. Rugged canyons and cliffs, an interesting assortment of weird desert plants, and the occasional critter are just a portion of the backcountry Death Valley experience. Corkscrew Peak not only offers all that, but what I'm told are absolutely incredible summit views ... (I would't know...the summit was socked in when I was there!)
The easiest route involves about 7 miles of cross-country travel and about 3300 feet of gain. The route, though fun and worthwhile, never exceeds class 2.
Corkscrew Peak can also be linked up with nearby Death Valley Buttes for a kick-ass half day.
Getting ThereFrom Beatty, NV (100 miles or so north of Las Vegas on highway 95): There's only one stop light (a flashing, single bulb one) on the main drag in this small town. From the stop light, head west straight toward Death Valley (there's adequate signage pointing the way). Follow this road for several (maybe 10?) miles until you cross over the border to California, at which time, the road becomes highway 374. Once on the California side, the highway starts to wind up into the Grapevine Mountains and soon crosses over the signed Daylight Pass. A few miles after Daylight Pass, you will come to the self-pay and unstaffed station for the east entrance to Death Valley NP called Hell's Gate. If you do, turn around...you've gone too far. Head back east on highway 374 a mile or so, looking for a sign on the north side of the road saying "Corkscrew Peak". You're there. Back track 100 yards to a wider shoulder and park on the side of the road. This is where you start.
Add'l comments from MoapaPk: "Coming from Vegas: From the stoplight [in Beatty], it is 19 miles on the paved road to the point where one hits the trail. However, the highway shoulders are quite narrow there, so you might wish to park at ~18.7 or 18.8 miles on the wide right (NW) shoulder, then walk down the road 0.2-0.3 miles to start the hike."
From Death Valley: From the Stovepipe Wells area of Death Valley, follow highway 190 eastward toward Furnace Creek. Soon enough, you will come to the signed and paved turn-off to Daylight Pass Road (highway 374) and Beatty, NV. After a few miles, you will reach the junction of the two roads. Hang a right onto highway 374 and then look for Hell's Gate 1/4 mile or so away. Continue on past Hell's Gate for about a mile, looking for the aforementioned "Corkscrew Peak" sign. Once there, back track 100 yards or so to a wider shoulder and park on the side of the road. Corkscrew Peak is roughly due north. It's the only oddly shaped big mountain visible.
Red TapeIt's $20 for entry to Death Valley NP. The honor system is in effect.
When To ClimbYear round. Summers are gonna be hot, but probably bearable at this altitude. Winter is perfect, though expect some snow now and then.
CampingThere are established camping areas in the valley itself. Otherwise, to my knowledge, backcountry camping is allowed without a permit. To be certain, contact the park and ask.
Mountain ConditionsDeath Valley weather. Obviously, mountain weather can be significantly different from that in the valley.
- My pictures of our rainy hike to Corkscrew Peak
The pictures were taken on February 21, 2004
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