Located in fabulous Death Valley National Park are Rogers Peak (9994 feet) and Bennett Peak (9980 feet). The two peaks, among the highest named peaks in the park, sit a mile apart from each other on the crest of the Panamint Mountains, just a few, short miles north of the very popular Telescope Peak. Telescope Peak, being over a thousand feet higher and well-known for its expansive views, draws, not some, but ALL of the attention. It also doesn’t hurt Telescope’s draw in being, at over 11,000 feet above sea level, just miles west of the lowest point in the western hemisphere, Badwater (282 feet below sea level), some 11,327 feet below.
Guys like this consider it a tough and enjoyable challenge to hike from the valley floor near Badwater to Telescope’s summit (and all the way back down) in a day. After all, we’re talking about over 11,000 feet of gain and a roundtrip of over 30 miles. I suppose, then, that a Badwater to Rogers or Bennett dayhike might be viewed as “an easy stretching of the legs” in comparison.
Well, anyway, as you might imagine, with the lowest point in the hemisphere just miles to the east, and the highest point in 49 of the 50 states, Mt. Whitney, to the west, the views from both Rogers and Bennett are astounding.
Bordered by Death Valley on the east and Panamint Valley on the west, Rogers and Bennett are not typically undertaken as individuals, but rather, are generally bagged as bonus peaks on the way to or from Telescope Peak. With the trail to Telescope Peak passing right thru the saddle of Rogers and Bennett at about the 9600-foot level in Arcane Meadows, why wouldn’t you check these out too?
*You might also check out a fledgling outdoor site (www.backcountry-explorer.com), which provides access to trip reports, beta, photos and other stuff covering hiking, scrambling, climbing and canyoneering around Las Vegas. A new hiking and scrambling guidebook, Rambles & Scrambles: The Definitive Guide to Peakbagging Around Las Vegas, is now available.
Getting ThereFrom wherever you happen to be in Death Valley National Park, head for highway 190, the main east-west road running through the park.
Heading west from Death Valley (the feature, not the park), follow 190 to Emigrant Canyon Road, which is a few miles before you come to Towne Pass.
Turning left onto Emigrant Canyon Road, follow it for many miles (maybe an hour) to the road’s end (and the trailhead) at Mahogany Flat (about 8100 feet).
A high-clearance vehicle, while not necessary in good conditions, is recommended for the last section of steep, dirt road up to Mahogany Flat. Those without this luxury can park at the charcoal kilns, which are right off the main road about a mile and a half before Mahogany Flat. This set-back will require an extra mile and a half or so of footwork (each way) and perhaps 1000-1200 feet of additional gain.
Red TapeThere’s an entrance fee ($20) to visit Death Valley NP, but frankly, it’s an inconvenience to pay it – The visitor’s center is miles away from Rogers & Bennett at Furnace Creek, leaving only the occasional self-pay station here and there at a couple locations within this vast park of more than 3.3 million acres. That said, I’m guessing most people don’t pay the fee…though they should.
Otherwise, there are no permits or fees to hike these mountains. A voluntary backcountry permit is suggested for overnights in the range. These permits can be obtained at the Furnace Creek Visitor’s Center.
Here’s a park link.
CampingDecent primitive camping can be found at Arcane Meadows, which is located at the saddle between Rogers and Bennett.
Developed camping can also be found at the Mahogany Flats campground at the trailhead or at the Thorndike Campground, just down the road from Mahogany Flats. These campgrounds are first-come first-served, self-register, and self-pay.
When to ClimbRogers and Bennett can be hiked year-round. In winter, the access road is typically closed above the charcoal kilns (due to ice).
Mountain ConditionsHere’s a weather link for nearby Furnace Creek. As a disclaimer, I’ll tell you that Furnace Creek is in Death Valley, so expect conditions that could be grossly unlike those you’ll likely encounter on the mountains. At a minimal, expect temperatures to be considerably cooler.
You might also utilize the link I provided in ‘Red Tape’ to contact the park directly for current conditions and a mountain forecast.
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