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Golden Canyon Trail

Intermediate
 4.6 (26)

Ascend Golden Canyon and experience the badlands of Zabriskie Point.


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Map Key

2.8

Miles

4.5

KM

Point to Point

653' 199 m

High

-130' -40 m

Low

964' 294 m

Up

181' 55 m

Down

8%

Avg Grade (4°)

31%

Max Grade (17°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views

Family Friendly Kids will enjoy the interpretive signs at the Golden Canyon area, or the views from Zabriske Point.

Description

This trail through the Golden Canyon and the Zabriske Point badlands offer some of the best hiking in Death Valley National Park.

The trail begins at the Golden Canyon Trailhead accessed off Badwater Road just 3.5 miles south of the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. There is an interpretive trail guide available for Golden Canyon at the information kiosk at the trailhead.

The canyon is true to its name, carved through golden yellow sediments which were deposited at the bottom of Lake Manly over 5 million years ago. The different color bands seen in the walls signify the presence of different minerals. The trail ascends the canyon on a gentle climb for the first mile of the hike. A sign post for Zabriske Point will indicate where the trail climbs out of the canyon and into the Zabriske Point badlands. The Upper Golden Canyon Trail - Red Cathedral Access can be used to get close-up views of the Red Cathedral which looms above Golden Canyon.

The trail ascends steeply out of the canyon as it winds through the Zabriske Point badlands and around the base of the Manly Beacon. The trail begins its descent at 1.5 miles to the first intersection with Gower Gulch where the Gower Gulch Loop Connector trail allows for shorter loop hike to Gower Gulch. The trail to Zabriske Point continues up through the badlands with additional opportunities for beautiful views as it ascends.

The trail again meets Gower Gulch and the intersection with the Gower Gulch Trail at 2 miles. The Gower Gulch Trail can be taken back to the Golden Canyon Trailhead. Keep following the signs to Zabriske Point. The trail will reach the parking area at Zabriske Point where the paved Zabriskie Point Access Trail offers an excellent overview of the canyons and badlands you just ascended through.

Need to Know
Drink plenty of water: Drink at least one gallon (4 liters) of water per day to replace loss from sweat, more if you are active. Fluid and electrolyte levels must be balanced, so have salty foods or "sports drinks" too.

Avoid travel in the heat: Do not hike in the low elevations when temperatures are hot. The mountains are cooler in summer, but can have snow and ice in winter.

Travel prepared to survive: Stay on paved roads in summer. If your car breaks down, stay with it until help comes. Carry extra drinking water in your car in case of emergency.

Watch for signs of trouble: If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink water.

Contacts

Shared By:

Thomas Birch

Trail Ratings

  4.6 from 26 votes

#120

Overall
  4.6 from 26 votes
5 Star
62%
4 Star
38%
3 Star
0%
2 Star
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1 Star
0%
Trail Rankings

#11

in California

#120

Overall
10 Views Last Month
3,122 Since Jan 24, 2016
Intermediate

8%
0%
77%
8%
8%
0%

Photos

Hikers on Golden Canyon Trail
Oct 11, 2018 near Badwater, CA
hikers
Oct 12, 2018 near Badwater, CA
Zabriskie Point
Jan 27, 2016 near Badwater, CA
Looking down through Golden Canyon towards the Badlands
Mar 11, 2021 near Badwater, CA
View from Zabriske Point.
Jan 27, 2016 near Badwater, CA
A 120 degree panorama (centered west) can be enjoyed at the east end of the Golden Canyon Trail.
May 7, 2017 near Badwater, CA

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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

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All Clear 76 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

May 30, 2021
Pavithra Srinivas
Only did section from Gower Gulch connector to Zabriskie point. Strenuous uphill but amazing views. Could consider opposite direction
Apr 19, 2021
Lulu Kablawi
Started at zabriskie point, to golden canyon, and came back along gower gulch
Mar 26, 2021
Patrick S
6.3mi — 3h 32m
Mar 5, 2021
Bear Rinehart
Feb 28, 2021
Nicole Arendt
2.8mi
Feb 28, 2021
Brian Rishel
1h 15m
Feb 21, 2021
Júlia Maranho
Jan 16, 2021
Michelle A