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.