Styx Canyon (North Fork)

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Styx Canyon (North Fork) Canyoneering Canyoning Caving
 For other features with similar names, see Styx Canyon (disambiguation)
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Styx Canyon (North Fork) Banner.jpg

Difficulty:3A IV (v3a1 IV)
Raps:‌16-22, max ↨105ft
Overall:7-11h ⟷5.9mi
Approach:1h ↑150ft
Descent:10h ⟷4.1mi ↓4446ft
Exit:15min ↑0ft
Red Tape:No permit required
Shuttle:Required 70min
Condition Reports:
11 Nov 2023

"This was the first run of Styx for this season. Plus Hurricane Hilary and the flooding made for a lot of anchor rebuilding and rock farming. Set up sh

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Best season:
Nov-Mar (avg for this region)



After leaving a shuttle vehicle at the exit south of Badwater, drive the long route to the parking lot just short of Dante's View. Cross Coffin Canyon heading west, then follow the major ridge on the left up, and then down. Turn right just before the end of the ridge to overlook a prominent wash below (Cerberus Canyon) and then descend steeply (~40% grade) to the saddle above this wash; do not descend all the way to the wash. Certainly do not follow this wash as it leads to the much more difficult Cerberus Canyon. Turn right and contour along the LDC of the canyon wall until another saddle, then turn left and head down a small wash.


After some initial small downclimbs, the small wash will flatten out and then the walls will start to become steeper and more beautiful. About 1.4 miles from the saddle, the first rappel appears.

R1: The anchor is often built out of sight down two moderate downclimbs, but make sure not to get your group stuck by counting on this fact

After another quarter mile of walking, the first technical section begins. This section only lasts 500ft, but contains a number of rappels. The final rappel ends at what appears to be a substantial confluence, but is actually a minor tributary. After some additional downclimbing and an extra rappel, the South Fork confluence arrives and the canyon turns right. From this confluence, there is a long 1.2-mile section of flat walking among colorful canyon walls interspersed with one spicy downclimb. As the canyon narrows, another technical section containing both rappels and downclimbs begins that lasts the final 0.9 miles of the canyon. Near the end of this section, there is a quarter mile walk before the final sequence of rappels which culminates in the final rappel beneath a giant chockstone.

Nearly all rappels use cairn anchors, so be sure to bring plenty of webbing and quick links to rebuild them when necessary.

The number of rappels will change with group skill/exposure comfort, as there are many spots in the lower technical section that can be downclimbed instead of rappelled. Anchor conditions change all the time due to flash floods.

March 22' Trip recorded the following rappels:

  • R1 - Cairn, there was a pinch two easy down climbs below
  • R2 - 80 ft, two small drops, cairn
  • Small walk then series of rappels
  • R3 - 30 ft, bush and looped through rock
  • R4 - 40 ft, big pile of rocks cairn anchor
  • R5 - 110 ft, cairn anchor
  • R6 - 20 ft, slung Boulder could be down climbed
  • R7 - 70 ft, cairn
  • Walk
  • R8 - 40 ft, massive cairn
  • R9 - 70 ft, cairn
  • Hike for a while
  • R10 - Pinch
  • R11 - 55 ft, cairn
  • R12 - 110 ft, chockstone
  • R13 - 110 ft, chockstone
  • R14 - 15ft, looped rope around a Boulder
  • R15 - 20 ft, chocked stone
  • R16 - 70 ft, pinch two step rappel
  • R17 - 25 ft, rock chock
  • R18 - 65 ft, cairn
  • R19 - 40ft, boulder
  • R20 - long, cairn
  • R21 - long, cairn
  • R22 - long, cairn

March 23' - note on the last rap: If you have a 200’ rope, you can counterbalance rappel off of the huge boulder across the canyon. It is quite a fun experience, and makes for great pictures if you get there around sunset.

  • Counterbalance rappelling off the huge boulder at the end.
  • Exit

    Follow the alluvial fan down to the road, taking care to choose the direction that will lead you correctly back to your shuttle car. Especially if exiting in the dark, a GPS is extremely useful to walk a straight line.

    Red tape

    Bolting is not allowed in Death Valley; be prepared for many cairn anchors. Also, trash -- even organic trash such as fruit peels -- do not effectively biodegrade. Be sure to pack out all your trash, including organic material that you might leave in other canyons.

    Beta sites

    Trip reports and media


    First descent (of north fork), 22 January 2011: Mike Cressman, Lori Curry, Taylor Fowles, Luke Galyan, Rick Ianniello, Rick Kent, Darija Malinauskas, Tom Walmsley. (Alphabetical order.)


    Information provided by automated processes. KML map by (unknown). Main photo by (unknown). Authors are listed in chronological order.

    In all habitats live animals and plants that deserve respect, please minimize impact on the environment and observe the local ethics. Canyoneering, Canyoning, Caving and other activities described in this site are inherently dangerous. Reliance on the information contained on this site is solely at your own risk. There is no warranty as to accuracy, timeliness or completeness of the information provided on this site. The site administrators and all the contributing authors expressly disclaim any and all liability for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by its actions, omissions, or negligence in procuring, compiling or providing information through this site, including without limitation, liability with respect to any use of the information contained herein. If you notice any omission or mistakes, please contribute your knowledge (more information).


    Incident:webbing failure in Styx Canyon (North Fork) 2018/11/02trueInjury2018-11-02