I haven’t been visiting many major waterfalls lately. Instead, I’ve been tending to search for some of the more unknown waterfalls that are nearby where I’m currently traveling. This means finding waterfalls like Amargosa Falls, a waterfall in the California desert…
Amargosa Falls is a bit south of Death Valley, where you can find another interesting desert waterfall, Lower Darwin Falls. Being in Death Valley, Darwin Falls gets a bit more advertising than Amargosa Falls. It is taller too, but both waterfalls are interesting in their own way.
The starting point of the hike to Amargosa Falls is interesting in its own right. For directions sake, set your GPS to the China Date Farm in Tecopa, California. This is an actual date farm, and they make a variety of different date products. (It smells really good in there!) On the opposite side of the parking lot near the picnic area is where the trail to the falls starts.
The hike to the falls is relatively easy from a hiking perspective. The directions can get a bit confusing at one turn, but luckily someone else on the trail pointed out that it didn’t seem like this was the right direction to the falls. Even if you miss the turn to the falls, you’ll still be able to see a pretty neat slot canyon.
Once you get to the falls, you’ll be greeted with a unique waterfall. If you arrive at the crest of the falls, you won’t even see the whole thing. It’s a bit different than most other waterfalls. As you might be able to tell, the river right above the falls is almost completely overgrown with brush. If you’re standing a few feet “behind” the falls, you wouldn’t even see a river… very odd, to say the least. Climb down a bit, and you’ll find the waterfall is wider than expected, almost forming a horseshoe. It’s an unexpected find in this dry, colorful desert landscape.
- Set your GPS to the China Date Ranch Farm in Tecopa. From the Old Spanish Trail Highway in Tecopa, turn south onto Furnace Creek Road, and then a few miles later, turn right onto China Ranch Road. The signs are pretty clear. The road is mostly paved with the exception of the last mile or so, and it’s not difficult to drive down.
- Head toward the picnic tables at the edge of the parking area to start your hike.
- At 0.25 miles in, there will be a Nature Conservancy sign at a fork. Take the right fork of the trail. You will then pass an old building that they’ve tried to stabilize.
- Keep hiking until you reach a hill with a information sign in the center. (This will be just under 1 mile from the start of the hike.) Survey the land a bit. To your right will be the remnants of a railroad bed extending off a ways. To your left is another trail, and directly ahead of you is a dry river bed that will lead you to a slot canyon.
- To reach the falls, you want to take the switchback down this hill and then veer sharply right toward the railroad bed. You’ll pass the remnants of a mining operation. Follow this raised railroad bed for about 0.75 miles.
- Shortly before the waterfall, you’ll see a worn sign for “Waterfall.” Follow this sign and you’ll soon arrive at the falls.
Accessibility: 8/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 3.5 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Amargosa Falls?