Canyoneering Route Description

Arachnophobia Canyon - 3A II
Death Valley National Park, California.

Quick Facts

02-29-20, 9 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 7.5 hours) Pictures Icon Time includes 1hr 10min break on approach hike.

Time Required - 5 to 6.5 hours
Distance - 4.0 miles Total, 4.7 miles Technical
Rappels - 10 Rappels, Longest Rappel 170 feet.
Elevation Range - 1850 to -50 Feet
Shuttle Required - Yes 10.9 Miles Vehicle - Passenger Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear.  Ropes and pull cords for rappels up to 170 feet and 80 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.

General Comments

ATTENTION!!
Death Valley is considering a new permit system in response to the impact of the growing popularity of Canyoneering.
Lets continue to show the park just how respectful we can be to our environment.

Specific issues the park is concerned about:
1. Anchors: Bolting is Illegal in Death Valley National Park! Do Not Add Bolts. Natural anchor options are abundant.
Recent illegal bolts have popped up in Helios and Rainbow Canyons.
2. Poop: Dig a cathole at least 6 inches deep and 200 yards from any water source or campsite. Pack out all toilet paper.
3. Collecting fire wood is illegal, just don't do it!

Other basics:
Avoid walking in water when possible (Willow Canyon, etc). Hike on durable surfaces and previously worn paths (avoid trampling vegetation or fragile soil crusts). Pack out all trash including organic material (including seed shells, apple cores, orange peels, etc). More info can be found here: http://www.nps.gov/deva/planyourvisit/backcamp.htm

Lets keep this wonderful resource pristine so that we may continue to enjoy the canyons with limited regulations!

Arachnophobia is fun half day canyon in the same area as Scorpion and Vinegaroon Canyons and sharing the same colorful scenery. Arachnophobia requires a car shuttle. The number of rappels you encounter may vary as there have been cairns built at the top of downclimbs and there a lot of different ways you can combine raps and downclimbs.

Arachnophobia uses the same approach hike as Scorpion Canyon. As you drop into the large upper wash of Scorpion Canyon, there are multiple places you can leave Scorpion and hike up slopes to get to Arachnophobia. Thanks to Abby for trying a few of the options and letting me know the one described here is by far the easiest way between Scorpion and Arachnophobia.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the Junction of highway 190 and highway 178, drive south east on highway 190 for 4.7 miles to the turn off for the Twenty Mule Team road (ext-20Mule-In) on the right (south) side of the highway.  The Twenty Mule Team road is a dirt road that runs for about 2.6 miles and comes back out to the highway a little south of where you entered.  Turn right (south) onto the Twenty Mule Team road and drive 1.7 miles to a parking turnout on the right (pkScorpion).   This turnout is just as you reach a sharp left hand bend in the road.  Park the entry vehicle here.  Remember to go set an exit vehicle as this route requires a shuttle.

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

From the Junction of highway 190 and highway 178 (Badwater Road), drive south on highway 178 for 3.7 miles to a dirt road (extDesoltnCyn) on the left (east).  Turn left onto the Desolation Canyon road and drive 0.5 miles east to the end of the dirt road where there is a large parking area (tDesolationCyn).  Park the exit vehicle here.

Maps

GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom.  For information about waypoint naming and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map of the first part of approach.
Map of the first second part of approach.
Map of the technical section.
Map of the exit.

Details

The Approach:
From the parking spot (pkScorpion) walk about 350 feet north on the Twenty Mule Team road to a large wash (wScorpionRP01) leaving the road and traveling southwest.  Turn left and walk southwest up the large wide wash.  About 700 feet from the road the wash is wide and may seem to have forks coming in.  Just keep following straight up southwest of what feels like the main wash.

About 0.28 miles up the wash you may notice a doorway shaped hole (wScorpionRP02) in the hillside on the left (southeast) side.  There are a couple short tunnels here.  As a general rule it is best to do as the park says.... Stay Out - Stay Alive.

Another 650 feet southwest up the drainage is where the wash begins to get a little more narrow (wScorpionRP03).

About 400 feet farther the wash makes a left - right jog (wScorpionRP04) shortly before getting to a more wide open section of the wash.

About 350 to 400 feet farther will be a spot to scramble up about 15 feet.  Just after the scramble up will be a confluence of 3 forks (wScorpionRP05).  From the confluence travel southwest up the left most fork.  Travel from here gets steeper but is mostly an easy walk up with an occasional spot where you might want to use your hands for balance.

About 500 feet farther is a narrow spot where you need to scramble about 15 feet up a steep section (wScorpionRP06) that also has a lot of loose sand and gravel on it.

Continue light scrambling up a moderately steep section for about 200 feet until you get to a more wide open area (wScorpionRP07) and easy wash walking again.  There is a confluence here of a few forks. Travel up the left most fork going southeast then shortly after turning right to travel southwest again.

Note:
From this confluence you can see a white conglomerate cliff band ahead to the west.  What you will be trying to do from here is travel up to the left (south) side of the cliff band.

Example Pic. Follow the washes around the left side of the white conglomerate cliff band.

After turning up the leftmost fork (wScorpionRP07) it will veer right and begin traveling southwest again for about 200 feet to a short easy scramble up (wScorpionRP08).

After you get up the scramble you should be able to see an obvious saddle about 350 feet ahead to the southwest.  Note the water runnel traveling down from the saddle to the wash you are in.  Walk the wash over to the runnel then scramble your way up the water runnel to get up onto the saddle (wScorpionRP09).

Example Pic. Follow the wash and the water runnel up onto this saddle.

From the saddle follow down the water course on the other side running down to the west.  After about 300 feet you will drop into a VERY wide wash (wScorpionRP10) which is the Scorpion Canyon drainage running down to the northwest.

At this point the wash is very wide and flat providing easy walking for long way.  About 0.8 miles down the wash is another large wash (jVinegaroon) joining in from the right (north).

Note:
Stay in the main wash and travel down to the west to continue on the Scorpion Canyon route.  If you were going to Vinegaroon Canyon you would turn right and travel north up this wide side wash.

About 400 feet farther down the wash is where you leave (jArachno) the Scorpion wash to go up toward Arachnophobia.  Note a rugged side drainage on the LDC (south) side leading up toward yellow/white slopes. Leave the Scorpion wash and hike up the ridge on the right (west) side of the side wash. The ridge is steep but easy to navigate and walk up with a few outcroppings to go around.

Note:
The ridge is about 400 feet after passing the Vinegaroon wash. The rugged side drainage just before the ridge is identified by seeing that the drainage leads up to yellow/white slopes.

Example Pic.

About 500 feet up the ridge is a rock outcropping (Arachno02) on the ridge. Go around the left side and continue up the ridge. There will be a couple more minor outcroppings to go around on the way up the ridge.

About 375 feet farther the ridge tops out (Arachno3). Walk down slope into the wash below then turn right and walk west down the Arachnophobia wash.

About 1000 feet farther is the head of (Arachno4) a deep drainage with a 20 foot drop and leading north down to Scorpion Canyon. Continue west down the gentle slope of Arachnophobia. Don't accidentally drop down toward Scorpion.

About 0.4 miles farther is top of Arachnophobia Canyon (yArachnoTp) where wide open spacious views over the Death Valley flats as you approach the steeply dropping technical section ahead. 

The Canyoneering / Technical Section:
From top of the canyon (yArachnoTp) walk over to the first rap.

Rap 1 (dArachR01) anchored from cairn anchor and drops about 100 feet over multiple stages and rugged ledges. At the bottom of rap 1 is a downclimb of about 12 feet to the top of rap 2. Optionally you can use a longer rope and rap past the downclimb directly to rap 2.

Rap 2 (dArachnoR02) anchored from an equalized pinch point and redirected knot chock and drops about 35 feet. Just after the rap is a cairn anchor we did not use at the top of a downclimb of about 12 feet down to rap 3. Optionally you could use longer rope for rap 2 and combine it with the downclimb.

Rap 3 (dArachnoR03) anchored from a cairn anchor and drops about 170 feet down a vertical wall with a lot of free hang. Be careful of sharp rock that can cut rope. Reset the rope a foot or so after between people.

The next 450 feet is a mix of wash walking and a few minor scrambles.

Rap 4 (dArachnoR04) anchored from a cairn anchor and drops about 60 feet. Just before getting to the rap is a steep easy downclimb of about 30 feet over 2 stages.

The next 1000 feet of canyon is a mix of walking and a few short easy scrambles.

Rap 5 (dArachnoR05) anchored from a pinch point at the top of the drop and drops about 80 feet. The anchor here used to be an equalized knot chock and rock horn up on the RDC side.

Rap 6 (dArachnoR06) anchored from a large rock about 20 feet back and drops about 20 feet and is awkwardly overhung.

About 250 feet farther is a downclimb of about 6 feet followed by easy walking for about 130 feet to the next rap.

Rap 7 (dArachnoR07) anchored from a cairn anchor about 10 feet back and drops about 25 feet.
About 30 feet down canyon is a sloped downclimb along the LDC side down to the next rap.

Rap 8 (dArachnoR08) anchored from a cairn anchor about 25 feet back and drops about 45 feet down a vertical trough like feature.
Just after is a sharp right hand bend in the canyon before reaching the final 2 rappels.

Rap 9 (dArachnoR09) anchored from a cairn anchor about 25 feet back uses about 50 feet of rope as the rappel starts down a gentle slope leading to a vertical drop of about 20 feet. The next rappel is right at the bottom of this rap.

Rap 10 (dArachnoR10) anchored from a cairn about 20 feet back and drops about 40 feet.

About 180 feet farther is 2 downclimbs (Arachno06) one right after the other in narrow canyon next to large rocks of about 12 to 15 feet each.

About 650 feet farther is the bottom of Arachnophobia Canyon (yArachnoBt) at a junction where another drainage joins in from the left.

The Exit:
From the bottom of Arachnophobia Canyon (yArachnoBt), continue down canyon following developing use trails.

About 350 feet farther is an easy downclimb of about 6 feet.

Continue down canyon as it slowly opens to wide wash for a little over 1 mile back to the parking spot of the exit vehicle in Desolation Canyon (tDesolationCyn).

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

Arachnophobia (1) - Drive for exit vehicle parking and trailhead
  1. extDesoltnCyn          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.39660   W -116.84746        Elev: -205 Feet
    Exit for the road to Desolation Canyon Trailhead.
  2. tDesolationCyn          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.39565   W -116.83858        Elev: -50 Feet
    Parking area at the end of the Desolation Canyon road. Also parking for the exit vehicle for the Scorpion Canyon and Vinegaroon Canyon Routes.
  3. ext-20Mule-In          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.40941   W -116.79466        Elev: 840 Feet
    Entrance to the 20 Mule Team Rd.
  4. pkScorpion          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.39146   W -116.77847        Elev: 1,205 Feet
    Parking spot to side of road in 20 Mule Team Road. 1 - 2 vehicles. This is the spot to park for the start of Scorpion Canyon or Vinegaroon Canyon.
Arachnophobia (2) - Approach
  1. pkScorpion          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.39146   W -116.77847        Elev: 1,205 Feet
    Parking spot to side of road in 20 Mule Team Road. 1 - 2 vehicles. This is the spot to park for the start of Scorpion Canyon or Vinegaroon Canyon.
  2. wScorpionRP01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.39231   W -116.77876        Elev: 1,195 Feet
    To go up to Scorpion Canyon leave the Twenty Mule Team road here and start up the wash going southwest.
  3. wScorpionRP02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38916   W -116.78129        Elev: NaN Feet
    Small doorway shapped hole on the hillside. There is a tunnel here going through the hill to the otherside with a T part way in to a deadend tunnel part way into the hill.
  4. wScorpionRP03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38779   W -116.78265        Elev: 1,360 Feet
    The wash begins to get a little more narrow here.
  5. wScorpionRP04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38702   W -116.78346        Elev: NaN Feet
    Wash does a left - right jog here shortly before reaching a more wide open section of the wash.
  6. wScorpionRP05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38700   W -116.78518        Elev: 1,450 Feet
    Confluence of 3 forks. Follow the left most fork running up to the southwest.
  7. wScorpionRP06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38624   W -116.78669        Elev: 1,660 Feet
    A narrow spot to scramble up about 15 feet that is a little difficult since it is steep and has a lot of loose sand and gravel.
  8. wScorpionRP07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38598   W -116.78724        Elev: NaN Feet
    Top of a moderately steep section of scrambling and where the wash widens out again with easy wash walking. There is a confluence here of a few forks. Travel up the left most fork going southeast then shortly after turning right to travel southwest again.
  9. wScorpionRP08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38552   W -116.78724        Elev: NaN Feet
    Short easy scramble up in the wash. From here you can see an obvious saddle to the southwest about 350 feet away. Note the water runnel traveling up to the saddle. Continue up the wash then up the runnel to get up onto the saddle.
  10. wScorpionRP09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38500   W -116.78812        Elev: 1,845 Feet
    On top of a saddle after scrambling up a water runnel out of the wash. To drop into the Scorpion Drainage follow the water course running down the west side of the saddle for about 300 feet.
  11. wScorpionRP10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38475   W -116.78913        Elev: 1,785 Feet
    Route drops into the main water course for Scorpion Canyon.
  12. jVinegaroon          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38937   W -116.80203        Elev: 1,565 Feet
    Large wash joining in from the right (north). Continue west down the wash to continue to Scorpion. Or Travel north up the side wash to follow the route to Vinegaroon Canyon.
  13. jArachno          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38928   W -116.80351        Elev: 1,550 Feet
    To go to Arachnophobia, note a rugged side drainage on the LDC (south) side leading up toward yellow/white slopes. Leave the Scorpion wash and hike up the ridge on the right (west) side of the side wash. The ridge is steep but easy to navigate and walk up with a few outcroppings to go around. Note: The ridge is about 400 feet after passing the Vinegaroon wash. The rugged side drainage just before the ridge is identified by seeing that the drainage leads up to yellow/white slopes.
  14. Arachno02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38847   W -116.80493        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rock outcropping on the ridge. Go around the left side and continue up the ridge. There will be a couple more minor outcroppings to go around on the way up the ridge.
  15. Arachno3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38788   W -116.80594        Elev: 1,850 Feet
    The ridge tops out. Walk down slope into the wash below then turn right and walk west down the Arachnophobia wash.
  16. Arachno4          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38884   W -116.80900        Elev: NaN Feet
    Head of a deep drainage with a 20 foot drop and leading north down to Scorpion Canyon. Continue west down the gentle slope of Arachnophobia. Don't accidentally drop down toward Scorpion.
  17. yArachnoTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38960   W -116.81514        Elev: 1,540 Feet
    Top of Arachnophobia Canyon. Wide open spacious views over the Death Valley flats as you approach the steeply dropping technical section ahead.
Arachnophobia (3) - The Canyon and Exit
  1. yArachnoTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38960   W -116.81514        Elev: 1,540 Feet
    Top of Arachnophobia Canyon. Wide open spacious views over the Death Valley flats as you approach the steeply dropping technical section ahead.
  2. dArachR01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38955   W -116.81528        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from cairn anchor and drops about 100 feet over multiple stages and rugged ledges. At the bottom of rap 1 is a downclimb of about 12 feet to the top of rap 2. Optionally you can use a longer rope and rap past the downclimb directly to rap 2.
  3. dArachnoR02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38958   W -116.81559        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 2 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from an equalized pinch point and redirected knot chock and drops about 35 feet. Just after the rap is a cairn anchor we did not use at the top of a downclimb of about 12 feet down to rap 3. Optionally you could use longer rope for rap 2 and combine it with the downclimb.
  4. dArachnoR03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38960   W -116.81571        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 3 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from a cairn anchor and drops about 170 feet down a vertical wall with a lot of free hang. Be careful of sharp rock that can cut rope. Reset the rope a foot or so after between people. The next 450 feet is a mix of wash walking and a few minor scrambles.
  5. dArachnoR04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38995   W -116.81691        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 4 - Arachnophobia Canyon. Anchored from a cairn anchor and drops about 60 feet. Just before getting to the rap is a steep easy downclimb of about 30 feet over 2 stages. The next 1000 feet of canyon is a mix of walking and a few short easy scrambles.
  6. dArachnoR05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38991   W -116.81992        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 5 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from a pinch point at the top of the drop and drops about 80 feet. The anchor here used to be an equalized knot chock and rock horn up on the RDC side.
  7. dArachnoR06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38973   W -116.82059        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 6 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from a large rock about 20 feet back and drops about 20 feet and is awkwardly overhung.
  8. Arachno05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38930   W -116.82126        Elev: NaN Feet
    Downclimb of about 6 feet followed by easy walking for about 130 feet to the next rap.
  9. dArachnoR07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38908   W -116.82157        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 7 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from a cairn anchor about 10 feet back and drops about 25 feet. About 30 feet down canyon is a sloped downclimb along the LDC side down to the next rap.
  10. dArachnoR08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38886   W -116.82163        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 8 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from a cairn anchor about 25 feet back and drops about 45 feet down a vertical trough like feature. Just after is a sharp right hand bend in the canyon before reaching the final 2 rappels.
  11. dArachnoR09          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38854   W -116.82176        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 9 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from a cairn anchor about 25 feet back uses about 50 feet of rope as the rappel starts down a gentle slope leading to a vertical drop of about 20 feet. The next rappel is right at the bottom of this rap.
  12. dArachnoR10          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38855   W -116.82194        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 10 - Arachnophobia. Anchored from a cairn about 20 feet back and drops about 40 feet.
  13. Arachno06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38851   W -116.82254        Elev: NaN Feet
    2 downclimbs one right after the other in narrow canyon next to large rocks of about 12 to 15 feet each.
  14. yArachnoBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38815   W -116.82443        Elev: 330 Feet
    Bottom of Arachnophobia Canyon at a junction where another drainage joins in from the left. Continue down canyon following developing use trails.
  15. Arachno07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.38837   W -116.82530        Elev: NaN Feet
    Easy downclimb of about 6 feet.
  16. tDesolationCyn          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 36.39565   W -116.83858        Elev: -50 Feet
    Parking area at the end of the Desolation Canyon road. Also parking for the exit vehicle for the Scorpion Canyon and Vinegaroon Canyon Routes.