Greenwater Canyon presented the shortest route from the Las Vegas and Tonopah Railroad siding at Amargosa Station to the copper camps known variously as Kunze, Furnace, Copperfield, and Greenwater. Vastly overrated mineral strikes were made in the early 1900's on the eastern side of the Black Mountains in what is known today as Death Valley National Park.

The townsite that resulted became known as "Greenwater" and lasted only long enough for the original speculators to reap huge fortunes leaving subsequent investors penniless when it was discovered that the values would not sustain prolonged operations. Within a year-and-a-half, Greenwater was but a memory with only a few piles of rubble and scattered mine shafts and tailings containing green-stained quartz to mark the spot.

Greenwater Canyon is a broad desert dry wash that begins in the upper Greenwater Valley and descends for eight miles to the Amargosa Valley near the Lila C borax mines. The road that traverses its length is still extant and would be driveable if it weren't within the California Desert Protection and Death Valley "Wilderness" systems. Inyo County has been protesting its closure, but for now, it is for foot and horse traffic only.

Early inhabitants of the region left numerous examples of petroglyphs for us to puzzle over. In addition, there are rare pictographs (painted symbols) in shelters and caves near natural water tanks or "tinajas." One such pictograph depicts a horse and rider which tentatively dates it to no earlier than the 1700's.


Join us now for a look at some of the features of this rugged and unusual location.

gc upper 
This is the upper entrance to Greenwater Canyon. From here, you must walk about a mile to the first part of the canyon.

Welcome to Greenwater Canyon! The first major petyroglyphs as you enter the upper end.

gc guardian
This Chuckawalla is one of the many reptilian guardians of the first petroglyph area.

gc upper cyn
Hikers descend through an area of weathered volcanic boulders marked with the carvings of early visitors.

Some ancient unusual figures along the way.

modern glyphs
Modern visitors have defaced a few locations.

A careful observer can find more faint carvings in the canyon walls a mile or so below the the upper petroglyph area.

second major 
An observer surveys a third major petroglyph area a couple of miles further down-canyon.

Here are examples of petroglyphs on erratic basaltic boulders in this major area. There has been some limited defacement wrought by thoughtless modern hikers, but most petroglyphs are intact.

When hiking in Greenwater Canyon, beware of poisonous reptiles that thrive in this environment. This is a good-sized Mojave Rattlesnake that shared out path at one point.

Greenwater Canyon-Part 2

Copyright © 2012 - K1NV
All Rights Reserved
Webmaster: Jon M. Schumacher -