There is a place way out in the backcountry of Death Valley National Park called Marble Bath. Actually, it is two places.
Why there are two Marble Baths is a bit of a story. The real Marble Bath is a narrow marble canyon that contains some potholes (also called tinajas or water caches) that usually hold water long after it rains. These are the only semi-reliable source of water for many miles in an otherwise very arid stretch of desert. They don’t call this Death Valley for nothin’, ya’ know.
The presence of water here meant it was a required stop for early travelers, prospectors, and most especially, Native Americans. These people left their mark on the slick marble walls of the canyon too. Hundreds of petroglyphs and pictographs cover the cool marble walls with their intriguing designs. It is an amazing little site.
The other Marble Bath was placed a few miles away and is a bathtub full of blue marbles! It is quite a strange and unique sight in this remote country so far from civilization. The real Marble Bath was marked incorrectly here on topographical maps and many explorers searched in the wrong spot looking for it. In the 1990s, research chemist and mountaineer Wendell Moyer and a group of fellow conspirators decided to correct the error by installing a bathtub at the spot marked on the map! Desert humor at its best. It’s an amazing site and quite fun to track down.
We have been going out there for many years now and both spots remain intriguing places to visit. I’m not going to give out directions to either of these spots, but they aren’t too hard to find. Please leave these wonders of the desert for other explorers to discover. And hey, why not plan ahead and bring your own rubber ducky to leave for a swim.
My photos below are from various trips over the years.
Last Updated on May 19, 2021 by Guy Starbuck