For our final day in Death Valley during Thanksgiving week, we wanted something a little simpler than the previous day’s climb of Bat Mountain. The Death Valley Buttes fit our criteria perfectly. The Buttes are a semi-isolated set of bumps where the Grapevine and Funeral Mountains meet. Their position in the Valley provides some great views south towards Badwater and west towards the Mesquite Dunes.
One of the reasons this makes a good quick hike is that it is easily accessible to any vehicle. So many Death Valley hikes and climbs are down rough 4×4 roads, so I’m happy to finally share something that any vehicle can get to. Parking is along Daylight Pass Road, also known as 134, which is the road that runs from Beatty towards Stovepipe Wells. Just past the entrance kiosk, the east end of the Buttes are visible, and this is where the hike starts.
We parked west of the kiosk along the wide shoulder of 134. No obvious trail is visible from here, but if you hoof it up the hillside you’ll soon cross a use trail towards the ridgeline.
The use trail follows the ridge to the eastern high point of the Buttes. Up until this point the route is simple and straightforward. If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenge (and view), continue following the ridge west to the high point of the Buttes. Follow the trail as it drops to a saddle, being careful with your steps. The trail is loose and slick as it descends from the eastern Butte to the saddle. I hate that stuff.
From the saddle, start up the use trail as it climbs towards the rockier outcropping of the ridge to the western high point. As the trail climbs, the terrain gets more interesting and soon you’ll be in a class 2 rock scramble. It can easily become class 3, depending on the route you pick through the rocks. It’s a lot of fun!
The summit is broad and comfortable for hanging out. The way that the Buttes jut out over the Valley lead to some awesome summit views!
Descend via the same route you climbed. The entire route is a little over 3 miles with 1700 ft of vertical, making it one of the shorter climbs in the area. Combined with its easy access, this is a candidate climb for when you might only have a half day.