Golden Canyon and Zabriskie Point – Death Valley

Furnace Creek, CA

On Wednesday we drove about ten miles to the south for a visit to one of the most popular hikes in Death Valley, Golden Canyon.  The hike is very popular due to its close proximity to lodging and campgrounds in Furnace Creek and the various options available for hiking.  You can take an easy one mile hike up the canyon on an interpretative trail and return.  Or you can extend the hike on a number of trail options.  We did all of the options and ended up with a great hike of over eight miles.

The Golden Canyon Trailhead

Just a short distance into the canyon we spotted a narrow side canyon that looked interesting, so we left the main canyon and headed up.

The side canyon was narrow and quickly began to gain in elevation.  We climbed up for about a quarter mile before turning back.

View of Death Valley from the side canyon

Climbing back down could get interesting!

Steep canyons are nothing for the nimble hiker!

Once back in the main canyon we continued hiking while enjoying a great view of the Red Cathedral in front of us.

The main canyon with Red Cathedral in the distance

A closer view of the Red Cathedral

The Golden Canyon Trail ended after a bit over a mile.  We then turned on to the trail to Zabriskie Point, a two and a half mile trail that begins with a climb up and around Manly Beacon.

Heading up toward Manly Beacon

Looking back at the trail from below Manly Beacon

The trail around Manly Beacon was a bit narrow and steep, but not a problem for the average hikers (like us).

The view of the badlands with Death Valley in the background was spectacular.

The trail through the badlands

After hiking over rolling hills of a badland area, we turned off the main trail and hiked up to the viewing area of Zabriskie Point.  This viewing point is on the main road from Furnace Creek back to Las Vegas and is very popular.  Most people take the sane way and drive there, avoiding a four mile hike through the canyon and badlands (but we had more fun!).

The walkway to Zabriski Point

The badlands looking from the viewpoint at Zabriskie Point

After lunch at Zabriskie Point we took a different trail that went into Gower Gulch, which will then loop back to the Golden Canyon trailhead.  Along the gulch we noticed a significant pile of rocks with a small path along the side of the gulch.

The pile of rocks looked man-made, so we climbed up to investigate.  We were surprised to find the mouth of an old mine going back into the canyon wall.  The National Park Service had the entrance blocked so you can only go in for about ten feet.

After hiking down the wash for about three miles the canyon opened up into Death Valley.  The trail then went north along the base of the hills for about a mile back to the trailhead.

We got back into the Jeep and headed back to the campground.  Driving through Furnace Creek we noticed an animal drinking from the base of a tree that is watered by the park service.

Enjoying a drink near the highway

Sure looks healthy, doesn’t he?

After enjoying a drink, he (she?) walked up the parking area a bit before heading back out into the desert.

The hike through Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch was one of the nicest we have experience here in Death Valley.  With the many options for trails there is something interesting for any level of hiker.  And the views are spectacular!

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19 Responses to Golden Canyon and Zabriskie Point – Death Valley

  1. Laurel says:

    Hmmm….if you consider yourselves to be average hikers, I wonder what that makes me….:-) Looks like a great hike, and wonderful photography, as always. It’s been several years since we’ve been in Death Valley, and your adventures are making me want to go back.

  2. pmbweaver says:

    Beautiful header photo.

    Sometimes you two make me so crazy with your hikes. Can’t you just once stay on the trail!

    Awesome photo of Red Cathedral. It looks so different different times of the day but always awesome.

    Zabriskie Point was my favorite part of DV. I loved the colors and formations. And what a hoot. We saw a coyote there also. Yours looks so much healthy than ours did.

  3. The header is superb!
    Im with Laurel, if you are average hikers, I wonder what we are. Nevertheless i can always trust you to find spectacular hikes in fascinating places. We did enjoy our hike at the Cathedral but we just stopped there just like other tourists.

  4. Average hikers?!?!? I think not! Really nice picture of the badlands. We found a great new road yesterday. You guys would like it. Two mile hike to Lake Mojave with very interesting scenery at the end of the drive.

  5. Suzanne says:

    Oh, it is surreal to look at those pictures and think back to the rescue that happened the day I was in that canyon, feeling like the window for my own safety was rapidly closing as we approached 110! Yet you guys look so comfortable! I really want to go back and hike that loop in sane temperatures. What a great loop it looks to be!

  6. Sherry says:

    Of course you did all the options! LOL And good for you. These are some fabulous pictures. Love the light on the rock in the first one, the view back to death valley from the side canyon, your nimble hiking back down, the closer view of red cathedral, the look back from Manly Beacon. Looks like I just love all your pictures but most especially all those fabulous views of the badlands. I’m sold. Now how do I get out there from Florida. Thanks for showing me where I for sure want to go. I think you must be there at the exact right time of year judging by your clothing. Great coyote catch!

  7. Janna says:

    Average hikers??? I wouldn’t call you guys average!

  8. Jodee Gravel says:

    Beautiful pics of the many, many colors of the area! The nimble hiker makes it all look so easy 🙂 Now I have to go look up why they call it Manly Beacon…… I love the Badlands, looks like the surface of another planet. Coyotes could teach classes on adapting to the changing environment, seems they’ve figured out how to share with us greedy humans quite nicely.

  9. Jim and Barb says:

    Awesome picture of Zabriskie Point! It looks like beautiful area to hike.

  10. Those badlands shots are amazing! Looks like you were playing a real life game of Chutes and Ladders as you worked your way back down Golden Canyon!

  11. ThoseYoungGuys says:

    That’s one of our favorite hikes too. Love it!!!

  12. Ingrid says:

    Ah, you’re killing me with these posts….. gotta get back there. That coyote indeed looks very healthy. It amazes me that anything can thrive in that environment. Fabulous photos 🙂

  13. colibabas says:

    Death Valley wasn’t at all what I envisioned. The colors are spectacular…still one of our favourite hikes to date.
    Safe travels!

  14. Rick Doyle says:

    You are definitely more than just “average hikers” – I get tired and worn out just looking at the rugged hikes you always seem to find. Great pics from Zabriskie Point.

  15. Wayne Scott says:

    Wow, great pictures. Looks like we must check out Death Valley. The Cyotes in this part of the country sure do look a lot more healthy than the ones back in ol’ MO. Interesting.

    • placestheygo says:

      Yes, Wayne, I would say add Death Valley to your list if your haven’t been here. We were so surprised by the beauty and varied landscape.

      I don’t know how the coyotes stay healthy here. There doesn’t seem to be anything to eat. We saw now wildlife but him.

  16. LuAnn says:

    You two are anything but average hikers! Love those badlands shots. Hope to get up to Death Valley this winter. Thanks for leading the way! 🙂

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