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Red Cathedral Out-and-Back

  4.5 ( 8 ) Favorite


2.9 mile 4.7 kilometer out and back


Ascent: 522' 159 m
Descent: -522' -159 m
High: 397' 121 m
Low: -125' -38 m


Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 25% (14°)


No Dogs
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Trail shared by Kathy Bass

A three mile round trip out-and-back hike offering close-up views of canyons carved by flash floods.

Kathy Bass

Features Views


Hike this in the afternoon so that the sun is setting on Red Cathedral when you arrive. The red rocks glow beautifully and the hike is more shaded in the afternoon. Be warned there are some narrow passageways on the 0.5 mi section once you leave the Golden Canyon Trail. (Bring a headlamp if you plan to hike this as the sunsets, just in case).

Need to Know

Some narrow spaces and minor rock scrambling needed. Carry lots of water and watch your head in low clearance areas.


From the Golden Canyon parking lot head into the canyon via Golden Canyon Trail. Follow the canyon as it winds through the striated rock. A few meters into the trail to your right, you can see that the trail was once paved and flash flooding has washed all but a small section of the pavement away; this little remnant is now several feet above the ground.

After following the canyon for a mile, a sign marks the way to Red Cathedral via Upper Golden Canyon Trail - Red Cathedral Access. Pay attention on the way; rocks should be lined up to prevent you from turning down a wrong canyon, but stay mindful of your surroundings. In the section to Red Cathedral there are several places where you have to squeeze in a narrow and places where you have to crouch under rocks to continue on. There are usually several approaches to each obstacle so take some time to plan you approach and stay safe.

After a narrow portion, the canyon widens an reveals Red Cathedral which is a truly awesome sight. Take a moment to rest and enjoy the beauty and silence before heading back the way you came.

Flora & Fauna

Some lizards can be seen in the late afternoon.

History & Background

This canyon was used while filming one of the Star Wars movies.

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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible

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Dec 30, 2019
Jessica P
May 26, 2019
Samuel Anaya
May 19, 2019
Luc Heitz
May 12, 2019
Ch S
May 7, 2019
Steven Springer
Mar 16, 2019
Aaron Fri
Mar 9, 2019
Ross Polk
Ducked under falling rock, enjoyed the red beauty
Jan 9, 2019
Ngoc Pham

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 8 votes


  4.5 from 8 votes
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in California


7 Views Last Month
500 Since Apr 25, 2018



Telescope Peak from the Red Cathedral
Mar 14, 2018 near Badwater, CA
Into the canyon.
Jan 27, 2016 near Badwater, CA
Death Valley National Park
Jan 25, 2016 near Badwater, CA
Entrance to Golden Canyon
Jan 24, 2016 near Badwater, CA
A portion of Red Cathedral shot looking back at the trail leading in
Apr 25, 2018 near Badwater, CA
View on Manly Beacon
Oct 11, 2018 near Badwater, CA


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