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Death Valley National Park Day Hikes

Death Valley is home to incredibly varied and beautiful landscapes. In our last post we wrote about its most famous viewpoints and easily accessible spots. In this post, we share day hikes, some of which are in less-visited areas of the park.

Natural Bridge Canyon is a short hike featuring a large natural bridge. It’s an easy way to experience one of Death Valley’s many canyons, which provide endless nooks and crannies to explore.

Anna walks under the natural bridge.

Once past the bridge, the number of hikers quickly drops off, and you have the canyon almost completely to yourself. There’s a boulder to squeeze under and a small pouroff to scramble up before you reach the larger dryfall that ends the trail.

Ubehebe Crater is a volcanic spectacle half a mile wide and 700 feet deep. You can walk the rim of the crater, then follow the trail over to Little Hebe.

Ubehebe Crater

Walking around the rim of the crater

Little Hebe Crater as viewed from Ubehebe

Mosaic Canyon provides a winding tour of unusual geology. The entire trail is 4 miles, but you don’t have to hike the whole thing to enjoy plenty of beautiful rock.

A quick 5 minute walk from the parking lot brings you to a narrow sinuous canyon with marble and “mosaic” walls. Flash floods have polished the marble to a smooth finish.

Next the canyon widens, showing a larger expanse of rock.

Eventually the rock closes in again. There’s more scrambling higher up the canyon, which is part of the fun!

Wildrose Peak is one of the highest points in Death Valley National Park. This trail is in a more remote area of the park, requiring a 1.5 hour drive from Furnace Creek Campground. A high clearance 4WD vehicle is recommended for the last few miles of dirt road to reach the trailhead. The hike itself is 8.4 miles round trip, with about 2600 feet of elevation gain.

The trail climbs through a pinyon pine and juniper woodland. The ecosystem at this elevation is much different from that found on Death Valley’s floor.

Weathered juniper

Wildrose Peak stands at over 9,000 feet, so it still had some snow during our late January visit. The contrast with the hot valley floor, 17 miles away and below sea level, is startling.

Before you go, check out the charcoal kilns right next to the parking lot. They were built in 1877 and are some of the best-preserved structures of their type.

Golden Canyon to Red Cathedral, with Gower Gulch loop shows the tremendous power of water to sculpt a landscape. You’ll also get excellent views back to the valley floor and the mountains beyond. The trail begins in a wide canyon and grows more interesting as the canyon narrows.

There are some fun narrow squeezes near the end of the Red Cathedral trail.

Red Cathedral

Looking back from the Red Cathedral towards Telescope Peak and the valley

The loop trail runs through some badlands, then into Gower Gulch. Fewer people walk the full loop, but it’s the best route in our opinion.

Gower Gulch ends in a dramatic dry waterfall pouroff. The trail bends right, back to the trailhead to end the loop.

Death Valley National Park is huge, and there are many interesting places we still want to explore. We hope to be back one day!

Beavertail cactus

A Joshua Tree National Park post with several coyote sightings is up next. Thanks for continuing to follow our journeys!

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wonderful to see more of “this land” through your eyes! May you continue to go up high peaks, down low valleys, under archways, and through slender cracks!

    October 7, 2018
  2. Jane Alexander #

    Such a wonderful place!

    October 8, 2018

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