Titus Canyon

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Titus Canyon

Titus Canyon is a deep, narrow gorge cut into the steep face of the Grapevine Mountains to the east of Death Valley in the Mojave Desert of southeastern California. The canyon features limestone rock formations, petroglyphs, and wildlife of various kinds.


Although the Grapevine Mountains were uplifted relatively recently, most of the rocks that make up the range are over half a billion years old. The gray rocks lining the walls of the western end of Titus Canyon are Cambrian age (570–505 million years old) limestone. These ancient Paleozoic rocks formed at a time when the Death Valley area was submerged beneath tropical seas. By the end of the Precambrian, the continental edge of North America had been planed off by erosion to a gently rounded surface of low relief. The rise and fall of the Cambrian seas periodically shifted the shoreline eastward, flooding the continent, then regressed westward, exposing the limestone layers to erosion. The sediments have since been upturned, upfolded (forming anticlines), downfolded (forming synclines) and folded back onto themselves (forming recumbent folds).

Although some of the limestone exposed in the walls of Titus Canyon originated from thick mats of algae (stromatolites) that thrived in the warm, shallow Death Valley seas, most of the gray limestone shows little structure. Thousands of feet (hundreds of meters) of this limey goo were deposited in the Death Valley region. Similar limestone layers may be seen at Lake Mead National Recreation Area and at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

At one of the bends in the canyon, megabreccia can be seen.

Natural and Human history[edit]

A yellow cup (Camissonia brevipes) at the mouth of Titus Canyon

Timbisha Native Americans carved petroglyphs on some of the rock faces of Titus Canyon, especially at springs and other locations of interest.

Several different types of flowers, including the sacred datura, inhabit the area. Desert Bighorn Sheep herds live in Titus Canyon, and the Funeral Mountains, particularly in the Klare Spring area of the canyon.[1]

Access and nearby points of interest[edit]

Titus Canyon is located on the east side of Death Valley in Death Valley National Park. It can be entered on foot from the west or by four-wheel-drive vehicle from the east. Road access is just west of the town of Beatty, Nevada. The drive is several miles long and can take more than an hour at a leisurely pace. The road is closed during the winter months when there is snow in the pass to the canyon. Vehicle travel is allowed in only one direction through Titus Canyon, from Nevada Highway 374 (Daylight Pass Road, 2 miles east of the park boundary) to the western end of the canyon.

Adjacent to the canyon proper is Leadfield, a former mining town and now ghost town where in the 1920s prospectors mined for ore after hearing exaggerated claims that lead would be easy to find and the living conditions in the area would be easy to endure. Another mining town-ghost town dating from the early 20th century, Rhyolite, Nevada, on the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad, is also nearby to the east.


  1. ^ "Death Valley National Park - Titus Canyon". U.S. National Park Service. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 

Coordinates: 36°49′22″N 117°10′24″W / 36.82278°N 117.17333°W / 36.82278; -117.17333