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Telescope Peak

Telescope Peak

Page Type: Mountain/Rock

Location: California, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 36.16970°N / 117.088°W

Object Title: Telescope Peak

Elevation: 11049 ft / 3368 m


Page By: forjan

Created/Edited: Sep 25, 2001 / Oct 11, 2006

Object ID: 150584

Hits: 86565 

Page Score: 96.13%  - 58 Votes 

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Telescope Peak (11,049 ft) is the highest point in Death Valley National Park. It belongs to the Panamint mountain range. It rises about 11,300 ft above Badwater (-282 ft), the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, which lies 20 miles to the east. The peak is so named because "you could see no further with a telescope." The trail starts at Mahogany Flat campground (8,133 ft). Distance one-way is 7 miles. Grade is steep for last mile of ascent. Ice axes and crampons are often necessary in winter. The summit rewards you with spectacular views of Death Valley and Mount Charleston to the east and the High Sierra, Mount Whitney, the White Mountains and Panamint Valley to the west.

Getting There

From Los Angeles, take CA 14 north. Just before the highway enters Red Rock Canyon State Park, turn right on the road to Randsburg. At the only major fork in the road (before it hits US 395), go left. At the junction with US 395, turn left. Go about 2 miles and take the road to Trona. When this roads ends at CA 178, go right. Pass through Trona and descend into Panamint Valley. At the only major junction, go straight (left to Death Valley via CA 190 over Towne Pass) to Wildrose. At the stop sign in Wildrose, turn right and drive to the Charcoal Kilns (start hiking here if the dirt road to Mahogany Flat is closed at the gate). If your vehicle has low clearance (2WD), park at Charcoal Kilns (elev: 6,960 ft); otherwise, continue on the dirt road for about 1.5 miles to the entrance of Mahogany Flat campground (requires 4WD vehicle).

If the road from Panamint Valley to Wildrose is closed (it is often washed out), you must make a long detour, going over Towne Pass to Emigrant, then south to Wildrose over Emigrant Pass.

From Las Vegas, take US 95 north to Beatty, then NV 58 to CA 190. Cross Death Valley to Emigrant, and proceed as above.

Death Valley Morning Report

The Death Valley Morning Report is no longer available on the Internet. Please see the National Weather Service 7-Day forecast for specific weather information. A road condition report (phone recording) is available by calling (760) 786-3200. Press 1 and then press 4 from the menu. The road conditions message is updated as conditions change.

Red Tape

Climbers are asked to fill out a voluntary backcountry camping permit for backcountry hiking or camping at the Visitor or any ranger station. During winter, the road above Charcoal Kilns is often closed by snow and/or ice (adding 3 miles to your roundtrip distance).

When To Climb

The trail starts at the flat area at the entrance to Mahogany Flat campground. It goes around to the east of Rogers Peak (9,994 ft), and the pointed summit of Telescope Peak first becomes visible. The trail then skirts Bennett Peak (9,980 ft), follows the ridgeline up to the base of Telescope Peak and then climbs rather steeply to the summit.

Telescope Peak is usually snow-free by June. The mountain is usually climbed from early May until mid-November, when the trail is mostly snow-free. In winter, add ice axe and crampons. Winter climbers are asked for their own safety to check in at the Wildrose Ranger station before and after their climb.


Camping at Mahogany Flat (8,133 ft) is free. It officially opens on March 1st and closes on November 30th, according to Death Valley National Park. It has 10 sites and there is no water. Backcountry camping is allowed two miles beyond the end of the road.

External Links

  • C.E. Brennen's trip report
    Well-written and thorough prose, a few pictures, and a map.
  • NPS Telescope Peak page
    Fairly informative page, with the usual NPS scare tactics for winter climbing. Says "During winter the road above the Charcoal Kilns is often closed by snow, adding 3 miles to the round-trip distance of the hike," but no mention of hard dates of the road closure.
  • Badwater to Telescope Peak

Additions and Corrections

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Viewing: 1-6 of 6    
JohnUntitled Comment


Hasn't voted

The snow-free hiking trail from Mahogany Flats is on the east side of the North Ridge while the popular winter trail is along the North Ridge itself (Ref: Keith Martin).
Posted Sep 25, 2001 12:36 pm
forjanUntitled Comment


Hasn't voted

Rogers Peak (9,994 ft) and Bennett Peak (9,980 ft) are short scrambles from the Telescope Peak summer trail.

Wildrose Peak (9,064 ft) offers a fine summit view and can be easily climbed from the Charcoal Kilns via a trail.
Posted Sep 26, 2001 4:31 pm
GuiltyRoad closed


Hasn't voted

Wildrose road from Trona road is closed because of the recently wash out. 3/24/14
Posted Mar 25, 2014 5:07 am
pmgraehlmdNew Years 1981

Hasn't voted

Did an overnighter here around New Years 1981. Dry year, no snow.

Very cold and very windy overnight. In the morning dead calm and the most glorious sunrise I have ever witnessed. Peak was easy walk up without snow. Spiral bound log at summit.
Posted Jan 12, 2015 2:15 pm
alexlennonRoad Access


Hasn't voted

Hiked Telescope yesterday 5/7/15- the Wildrose-Trona road was closed between the junction with Panamint Valley Rd and the Wildrose CG. Emigrant Canyon Rd is open the whole way. Also for what it's worth, I was able to get up to Mahogany flats in a Toyota Camry with pretty much no problem. It was definitely bumpy, but not rutted out like the description says here. Maybe I just caught it at a good time- I would say high clearance is recommended but not a must.
Posted May 8, 2015 4:32 pm
Rigel007June 10th 2016

Hasn't voted

Road: We rented a Yukon SUV in Vegas expecting to need high clearance but the road from the Kilns to Mahogany Flat was fairly well maintained and passable with any non-low rider. There were a few ruts but we found that a Lexus and a VW Passat had arrived before us.

Temperature: Passing through Stovepipe Wells, the air temp was 123 degrees on June 8th. Road surfaces are probably fifty or so degrees higher. Odds of tire problems in DVNP go up substantially. Make sure you have a functional full size spare and jack in whatever you're driving. Drive slow on dirt roads after your tires have been exposed to high heat. Auto Service at Furnace not available when temps are above 110 F. You may be driving on a spare to Beatty or Pahrump.

Wind: If you're camping at Mahogany, plan for high winds at night. I'd estimate 20-35 mph wind sustained with strong gusts most of the night. Bring plenty of stakes to secure your fly, or better yet just go without it. Better plan is to camp below the ridge at the second high camp and drive to Mahogany the day you hike.

The climb: Moderately steep for the first 2 miles, levels off for a few miles then easy switchbacks to the peak. Spectacular views. Garmin registered a bit less than 13 miles round trip. 3.5 hours up.
Posted Jun 12, 2016 12:54 pm

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