The elevation of Dante’s View is 5,475ft and the elevation of Mt. Perry is 5,716ft, but that alone is not the entire story. The scenery from Dante’s View all the way to Mt. Perry is uniquely spectacular. From Dante’s View’s 5,475ft perspective one can look almost straight down into Badwater Basin, at -282ft below sea level, the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. But that is not all. From Dante’s view one can look directly across the width of the vast expanse of Death Valley 20.6 miles away to the 11,049ft Telescope Peak and the entire expanse of the Panamint Mountain Range.
But there’s more. From Dante’s View one can look up and down much of Death Valley’s 100-mile length. And for still more, one can enjoy these non-stop views from Dante’s View all the way along Dante’s Ridge, the summit ridge of the Black Mountains, to Mt. Perry, about 4 and a half miles away. And this is the adventure we document here.
The best time of day to enjoy this adventure is when the rising sun begins to light up the entire landscape dramatically changing the scene in the vast expanse around you by the minute. It’s an astonishing light show, unmatched anywhere else on earth! The best time of year for this adventure is later in the Fall to Early in the Spring. Temperatures during the Summer months can soar above 100 degrees and temperatures during the Winter months can sometimes drop below 20 degrees.
In addition, if you look closely at the Panamint Mountain Range on the opposite (West) side of Death Valley you can pick out 4 canyons at the base of the range identified by their millennial-ancient alluvial fans (rocks, gravel and other debris washed down the canyon widening and fanning out as they reach the valley floor). From right (North) to left (South) there are Galena Canyon, Johnson Canyon, Hanaupah Canyon and Trail Canyon. Another feature to note is the North (right) ridge above Hanaupah Canyon. I’ve taken this ridge from the valley floor all the way to Mahogany Flat Campground and then on up to the summit of Telescope Peak. On the Telescope Peak and Wildrose Peak pages of this site we view the Hanaupah Canyon ridge from above. At some point I’ll video document this route on LasVegasAreaTrails.com.
From Las Vegas, take Hwy 160 to Pahrump. From Pahrump take W Bell Vista Rd (signage points to Death Valley). Bell Vista Road becomes Stateline Road to the Amargosa Cafe. Jog right 2-300ft, then take a left onto Hwy 190 toward Death Valley Junction and Furnace Creek. As you descend toward Death Valley Junction and Furnace Creek just beyond the park pay station there will be a turn-off to the left signed for Dante’s View, about 14 miles from that point. The last mile or so has a very steep incline not too good for RVs and trailers. All the roads to this point are paved, and there is ample parking at Dante’s view.
Most people who park at Dante’s View walk to the edge of the parking area overlooking Death Valley for incredible views of the valley below and the Panamint Mountain Range across. A few take one of the trails to the left (South) or right (North) of the parking area. We take the second option for this adventure.
From the Dante’s View parking area, as you’re facing Death Valley, you’ll notice an unmarked trail on the far right (North) side of the parking area. This is the trail that will take you all the way from Dante’s View to the 5,716ft summit of Mt. Perry. The trail immediately begins to rise and skirt the cliff face towering over Death Valley. It’s a good trail, but there are many spots where the trail is narrow and you’re looking nearly straight down over 5,000ft into the valley below. Lift your feet high as you walk (or run) since there are a number of hidden rocks protruding from the trail that could trip you up, and you don’t want to stumble and fall as you’re skirting the edge of this sheer cliff!
At a number of points along the way there are viewpoints overlooking Death Valley below and giving a spectacular panorama of nearly the entire length of the valley from North to South. The initial 1/4th mile of this trail is incredible enough. When you reach the high point, just before the trail begins to descend, you can turn around and head back to the parking area. From that high point you can look North along the ridge of the Black Mountains to Mt. Perry, 4 miles away, noted by its distinctive reddish color, and beyond for some of the best views of Death Valley to the North. There are some awesome high viewpoints in the area.
However, if you continue, you’re going to begin to dramatically descend 500-800ft or more and begin navigating a number of fairly gentle ridges with much fewer drop-offs compared to the initial 1/4th mile. Great views are opening to the East (right) all the way to the Mt. Charleston wilderness and the entire length of the Spring Mountains.
If you began this adventure at the moment of sunrise as I did on the Death Valley in a Day page of this site, you’ll see the entire incredible light show, though the valley floor does not completely light up for a couple hours. On this day, I began about an hour after sunrise.
After about a mile, you’ll reach a low point in the hills and begin your ascent to Mt. Perry summit. The final 1/2th mile as the rock turns reddish the trail becomes quite rocky with steep drop-offs on either side. Some steep areas have a loose, fine gravel surface, but in all, when you’re actually on this final summit approach section of trail it is generally easier to navigate than it looked from a distance. The rocks become small boulders and the trail in places slightly disappears amid stretches of larger boulders, but just keep to the mid section of the ridge and you can’t lose your way. There are a few very brief 3-5ft class 3 places to navigate, but nothing too difficult. The challenges just add interest to the adventure.
As you near the summit there will be 2 false summits. Just continue on the summit ridge until you reach a point where to proceed you’d need to descend. At this point you’re on the summit of Mt. Perry. There was no summit box on this day and only a cairn marked the summit. From Mt. Perry summit you can look down Furnace Creek Wash all the way to The Inn at Death Valley. The views North up Death Valley are at their best here. It’s quite a panorama worth the trip!
The return trip for the initial 1/4th mile down Mt. Perry summit ridge was actually easier to navigate as the trail seemed more well defined going in this direction and missed some of the earlier class 3 sections.
Between picture and video photography, the ascent and just taking my time enjoying the adventure, the trip from Dante’s view to Mt. Perry summit took about 3 hours. The return trip took 2 hours. However, one could easily make the round trip in a little over 3 hours.