Bendire Canyon

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 36.12100°N / 117.495°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Additional Information Time Required: One to two days
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2
Sign the Climber's Log


From the parking spot, start heading west up the road. The road gradually climbs up the alluvial fan in the lower stretches of Bendire Canyon. You will pass by an old mine building on the way up. After about 2½ miles, the road turns right and heads north into the narrowing canyon. After another ½-mile, the road turns right briefly, then straightens out again and heads north. The road ends at the base of a 40' dry waterfall beneath an impressive gray rock face. The elevation here is about 4,850'. This would be a good place to camp for the night. However, there is no water here unless the snow is still melting. The military reservation boundary is supposedly located near here, but there is nothing to indicate that anywhere.

Climbing Route Description

From the dry waterfall, climb left up the steep slope about 200' to the top of a ridge. This is perhaps the steepest section of the whole climb. You must climb up this slope to bypass the waterfall. Once on top of the ridge, you must descend about 100' back down into Bendire Canyon. There is a constructed trail here in places. The descent will bring you into a thicket in Bendire Canyon. This is the first of several thickets that you will have to negotiate. You could also just climb up the waterfall to reach this point.

Once you descend back into Bendire Canyon, you will begin your long, gradual ascent up it. The canyon has many twists and turns, but there are a few cairns and faint paths in places to guide you. Your goal is to stay in the main canyon. You will have to read the topo map carefully and keep track of your progress. It would be easy to get diverted off into the wrong canyon. There are no cliffs in the canyon, but there are several thickets. Some are relatively easy to traverse, but others are more difficult. You will have to climb up the steep side slopes of the canyon and traverse across in order to pass by some of the thickets. This will slow your progress and make life more difficult. Your best bet is to traverse as low as possible. There are some game trails here and there, but they may not necessarily be the best way to cross the thickets. We took one and ended up traversing WAY too high. Continue up the twisting canyon until you reach an elevation around 7,200'.

Once you reach this point, you will encounter a thicket. The DPS route has you going past the thicket to a prominent gully on the east side of Maturango Peak, then turning left and taking the gully up to the peak. This looks like a good route, but we didn’t want to cross the thicket, so we decided to climb straight up towards Point 8328. Climb up towards Point 8328, where you will get your first glimpse of Maturango Peak off in the distance. Traverse slightly beneath Point 8328, then start climbing up the forested ridge towards Maturango Peak. There are two small saddles near Point 8328 that you may have to cross. Continue up the ridge towards some prominent rock outcroppings. I thought that one of these outcroppings was the summit, but it wasn’t. The ridge becomes rocky near the top. Push on to the true summit, where you can enjoy the desert views.

Elevation Gain: About 6,000'.
Total climbing time from the parking area: About 14 hours or so.

Essential Gear

You will have to bring all your own water, unless the snow is still melting.



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