SIDEWINDER CANYON'S SLOT CANYONS
Death Valley National Park, California
Most people think of Death Valley as just a hot, desolate place with nothing to see buy intense heat and desert sand. But it's so much more than that, with amazing formations, hikes that will take you through different kinds of slot canyons, sand dunes, salt flats, giant craters and even a castle estate built in the 20's. It's also a great place to revisit famous Hollywood movie settings, most notably the original Star Wars film. Death Valley National Park is one of the biggest National Parks in the nation in square miles, and you can spend days here exploring if you want. There are plenty of places you can easily check out by stopping off the main road and getting out, but if you're looking for some place that will take you out of this world, with private rocky, narrows slot canyons and a little touch of mystery and magic, check out Sidewinder Canyon, featured in the film.
Out of the three hikes in the film, it takes a little more navigation to find, but it's the shortest of the hikes (it takes only about a mile to get to the first slot canyon), and well worth a little hunting. The narrow slot canyon in the movie is actually a series of three side slot canyons you can find along the side of the wide, prehistoric Sidewinder Canyon, and the first slot canyon is just like what you see in the movie: to get there, you find a little hole in the boulders of the canyon wall, crawl in, and after a bit of maneuvering, you step out into a magical slot canyon that you simply follow until it ends, seeing a little cave, arches and giant rocks stuck in all sorts of positions along the way. If you like that slot canyon, you can come back to the main canyon, then travel a little further down to the second and third slot canyons, which are interesting and fun in different ways. The great thing about this easy adventure, besides really feeling like a little adventure without the danger and pain, is that you can go as far or as short as you like, and you'll still see great things.
How to get there
For more detailed information on how to get there, we've listed links to sites you can read. You can also stop by the Visitor's Center at the park and ask the rangers there, they'll give a map with full details on how to find the canyon's parking lot.
You get to Sidewinder Canyon by accessing a dirt road off one of Death Valley's main roads, Badwater Road, which runs past the popular Saltwater Flats in the park. If you're on CA-190 which cuts through the middle of the park, get to Badwater Road and turn south, drive 31 miles south, and between road markers 31 &32 you'll see a side dirt road to the left. Just like in movie, if you hit Mormon Point Road you've gone too far. Turn off onto the dirt road and it will end at a parking lot; enter the lot then TURN RIGHT and drive to end of the lot. Make sure you turn right so that when you stop, you'll be facing Sidewinder Canyon. If you look at the picture below, that's the view if you get out of your car... you'll see a ridge in the distance (see red arrows in picture), go up that ridge and you'll find yourself at the mouth of the canyon. You go uphill a little bit to enter the canyon, but once you're there, it's all pretty flat and easy. Just travel straight into the canyon, and then about a mile in, you'll see the side opening that will take you right to the hole in the boulders. Crawl into that hole and you'll magically find yourself in the "lobby" of the amazing slot canyon#1! You can't really get lost in the slot canyon, just follow the path created by millions of years of rainwater flowing through and when you're done, turn around and follow the path back.. easy peasy! Best time to go is winter/spring when the weather is nice in Death Valley. This hike truly defines an "Easy Adventure"... hope you can check it out!
Resources for Sidewinder Canyon
Plenty of places to learn more information on Sidewinder Canyon:
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK INFO:
MODERN HIKER SIDEWINDER CANYON INFO:
STEVE HALL DEATH VALLEY ADVENTURES SIDEWINDER INFO: