Walking into Mosaic Canyon is like walking into a musuem. It is a showcase of geological features as well as a beautiful example of Death Valley's many canyons. About a quarter of a mile into the canyon it narrows, where the surrounding rock walls are composed of smooth, water-polished marble.
The canyon formed because a system of cracks, known as faults, developed in the area millions of years ago. Running water has been channeled into these faults for centuries and has gradually carved out the canyon to its present size and shape. Mosaic Canyon is the drainage duct for the northern flank of Tucki Mountain and channels water from a four square mile area. Periodic flash floods continue to bring down sand, gravel and rock from the surrounding hills.
Time, great pressures and heat exceeeding 1000° Fahrenheit have metamorphosed the limestone into marble. Subsequent uplifting and erosion have re-exposed these metamorphic rocks. Mosaic Canyon is considered a geologic "outdoor museum."
Source: NPS information signs
The road to Mount Tucki and Mosaic Canyon is in the left photo. On the right is the mouth of the canyon near the bottom just right of center.
The appearance is that the rocks were cemented into place.
Color was everywhere
A face in the rocks
See it now?
The narrows where very little sun shines. Because of the lighting, I had to take this self-portrait three times to get a good one. This was the third and I wasn't really ready. Oh, well! If you look close behind me and to the left are three horizontal dark lines and above them more to the left a vertical dark line running to the top of the white rock. These are three steps and a climbing grip to climb to the top of that canyon wall. There were three or four more steps, but they had fallen or been taken out to prevent climbing. They also appear in the photo on the left.
A Truly Beautiful Place
I left an Inukshuk
Can you imaging this area filled with water runnung at break neck speed during a flash flood? I did.
Coming back out the parking area is just below the white area in the center of the right photo. I was in the canyon for over a half hour and would have stayed longer, but it was getting late and I had to find a campsite.