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Red Cathedral Out-and-Back

Intermediate
 4.5 (12) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

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


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Map Key

2.9

Miles

4.7

KM

Out and Back

397' 121 m

High

-125' -38 m

Low

522' 159 m

Up

522' 159 m

Down

7%

Avg Grade (4°)

25%

Max Grade (14°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Views

Overview

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.

Description

From the Golden Canyon parking lot head into the canyon via Golden Canyon Trail. Follow the canyon as it winds through the stratified 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.

Contacts

Shared By:

Kathy Bass

Trail Ratings

  4.5 from 12 votes

#1347

Overall
  4.5 from 12 votes
5 Star
58%
4 Star
33%
3 Star
8%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#213

in California

#1,347

Overall
12 Views Last Month
1,194 Since Apr 25, 2018
Intermediate

9%
9%
64%
0%
18%
0%

Photos

The surreal multicolored canyon landscape just below the cathedral.
May 2, 2021 near Badwater, CA
On Golden Canyon Trail
Oct 17, 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
Telescope Peak from the Red Cathedral
Mar 14, 2018 near Badwater, CA

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Check-Ins

Feb 27, 2022
Jiye Kim
Jan 2, 2022
Johan Wu
Great View (huge red wall) at the end! — 1h 48m
Dec 15, 2021
Kelly B
9h 00m
Nov 22, 2021
Marc Corona
Mar 24, 2021
G Allen Daily
1h 12m
Mar 24, 2021
Kristy Van
1230-330. lunch at the red keep — 3h 00m
Mar 5, 2021
Bear Rinehart
Jan 15, 2021
Michelle A