Fish Canyon

Visitor # 7161 since 17.DEC.2004


According to the Panamint Valley Days run description:

Fish Canyon is in the Slate Range at the south end of the Panamint Valley. Fish Canyon is rich in history, scenery and challenges for the adventurous 4-wheeler. Stock vehicles and/or novice drivers may bypass the rock gardens in this beautiful canyon. "

Sounds interesting to me! The PVD crews have been running this trail for a few years now, To reach this trail, turn off of CA-190 at the Trona Sand and Gravel Co. sign and headed east towards the Slate Range.

How anyone could make money selling sand and gravel in Trona is way beyond me!

Checking out the Isham turn-off

As I went through the first piles of gravel, I dropped into a wash with a small BLM marker indicating a faint trail to the left that ends up in Isham Canyon, just across the gravel road from my truck, which is currently headed east towards the Fish Canyon turnoff, which is about 200 yards further up the road. You want to stay on the main road at this point. The turnoff to Fish Canyon (road is alternately marked P168 or P_68), is to the left out of this wash.

Dropping into Fish Canyon and Panamint Valley]

The road winds its way up the Slate Range, there are a few steep sections with some loose sand, but otherwise its an easy drive. Near the top of the climb, is a turn to the left before a gulley that'll take you north and west back to the top of Isham Canyon. Continuing on the main road, you crest the final hill and begin the long descent into Fish Canyon proper. On the way down the spine of the ridge, you have a spectacular view of Panamint Valley, with steep dropoffs to either side.

ET Sign #2ET Sing #3

On the descent and in the canyon are a number of elaborate signs erected over the years by the Trona Chapter of the Escape Trail Conference. The signs read from left to right:

Fish Canyon,
The Escape Trail where Manly & Rogers led the Bennett & Arcane families to safety from Death Valley in Feb. 1850.
Erected 1988 by the Trona Chapter of the ET Conference
<- Brier's Silent Sepulchre Fish's gravesite, 1 mile.

In honor of
Rev. Leonard Leon Collard
"Old Circuit Rider"
An adventurer in life!
As founder and President of the Escape Trail Conference from 1987 to 92 he lived by the words he chose for the membership card.
"Pledge - I will do what I can to preserve the Escape Trail and its history."
Trail markers over the Slates
Fish Canyon Marker - 1988
Fish death site marker - 1988
Silent Sepulchre marker - 1990
Rodgers Pass marker - 1992
He leaves behind men and women determined to promote the Escape Trail history.
"Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death." Isaiah 57:2 NIV
Erected Feb. 2, 1993 by the Trona Chapter of the Escape Trail Conference

Looks like I need to get pictures of a few more signs :-)

A rock garden

One nice aspect of the FIsh Canyon trail is when you drop into the main wash. There is a fairly easy trail in the wash to the waterfall at the end, about 1 mile upstream. However, there are a number of bypasses that are more challenging for those so inclined. There are a few rock gardens off the main trail where you can have a bit of fun. These change from year to year with the rains, so its always different.

Is this the trail?Checkin' the front tire clearance

Nice flex!Adequate tie rod and drag link clearance

Rear end is workin'

About a mile upstream, the trail ends at a dry waterfall. I couldn't resist the temptation to give it a shot. I was able to put a front tire up pretty high on the sheer rock face, but had to stop so I could climb out of the door to take some pictures. Was a good opportunity to check tire clearance, make sure drag link and tie rod were not binding, that I had sufficient shock travel, etc. In the top-right picture, you can see how my main shock has bottomed out and the auxiliary shocks are beginning to extend as designed. In back, I have 3/4" or so of travel left in the driver's rear shock, my bumpstop was completely smashed, tire ready to roll off the rim, totally flexed out!

Mouth of Fish CanyonIntersection of P168 and P170

From the waterfall its a mile back to the main road and in another 1/2 mile or so, you exit the mouth of Fish Canyon and enter Panamint Valley. Its still a few bumpy miles across a lava strewn hillside until you reach the floor of the valley and the end of P-168, where it intersects P-170. P-170 runs north and south along the west side of the Panamint playa. My truck is pictured heading north, which will take you to Ballarat in about 30-45 minutes, passing lava fields, dry lake beds and other geologic features. Taking the road to the south will take you the the Goler Wash turnoff and the main gravel road up the east side of the valley. The road is almost directly across the valley from the large Brigg's Gold Mine.

Be sure to bring your fishing gear, many fishing opportunities in Fish Canyon (although not many catching opportunities:-)
Seriously, though, Fish Canyon is actually named for "Father" Fish who came to Death Vallley from Lima, Indiana. He died of thirst and exhaustion on the summit of the Argus Range, west of Panamint Valley, on January 13, 1850. He was an older man, who succumbed to the hardships of the desert. He had traveled with the Brier family, but was always listed by Colton as one of the Jayhawkers, with whom he had apparently been traveling since the party's departure from the brackish spring in Death Valley where they burned their wagons.



The background for this page is an image of Zabriske Point. I post-processed the image with Silicon Graphics Image Vision toolkit by running a Sobel Edge Detection filter on it, then rotated and cropped the image slightly to get the edges to tile properly.

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[Created: 18.JAN.2001]
[Last updated: 02.April.2019]