Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, & Badlands

A topographic map showing popular routes in the Golden Canyon area.
 Topographic map and route description (692kb PDF) for the Golden Canyon Area

NPS - Dan Kish

A labyrinth landscape of golden colored hills and winding narrow canyons create hiking options ranging from easy strolls to strenuous adventures. The most popular routes listed here can be combined with one another for longer adventures. Regardless which adventure is right for you, take the map and route description with you.

GPS Data: GPS data for the entire circuit. Includes Golden Canyon, Red Cathedral, Badlands Loop, Gower Gulch, and Zabriskie Point.
  • GPX file (universal format for use in most mobile applications and GPS units)
  • KML file (used with some mobile applications and Google Earth & Maps)
  • Map: Print it off or use it with mobile applications. Moblie applications which accept georeference PDF's will work in backcountry settings without cell reception. Use your web browser to search for "georeferenced PDF app".
  • Route: Printable guide handy for your hike.
 
Golden colored hills and a labyrinth of canyons.
Badlands Loop

NPS - Dan Kish

Badlands Loop
Length: 2.7 mile (4.3km) loop
Time: 1.5 - 2 hours round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 535ft (163m)
Location: Zabriskie Point on CA-190 located 3.5 miles east of Badwater Road.
Parking: Paved parking area with large sites for buses and RV's.
Closest Restroom: A vault toilet is located in the parking lot at Zabriskie Point.
Route: The Badlands Loop starts from the most popular viewpoint in the park - Zabriskie Point. The loops winds through colorful badlands composed of an ancient lakebed. Pay close attention as you weave through this maze of narrow drainages looking for small signs at each major intersection. Click on the map above for details.
 
A canyon with golden colored canyon walls.
Golden Canyon

NPS - Dan Kish

Golden Canyon to Red Cathedral
Length: 3 miles (4.8 km) out and back trip
Time: 1.5 to 2 hours round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 577 ft (176m)
Location: Golden Canyon Trailhead located 2 miles south of CA-190 on Badwater Road.
Parking: Paved lot with large spaces for buses and RV's.
Closest Restroom: A vault toilet is located in the Golden Canyon parking lot.
Route: The route up Golden Canyon is gradually uphill through a rocky corridor of towering golden walls. Minor rock scrambling is necessary to complete the entire route as you climb over short (4ft / 1.2m) ledges and duck under low overhangs. Click on the map above for more details.
 
Hikers along a narrow trail below a large golden colored rockface.
Hikers traverse badlands between Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch.

NPS - Dan Kish

Gower Gulch Loop
Length: 4.3 mile (6.9 km) loop. Adding the spur trail to Red Cathedral adds an additional mile (1.6km) round trip to the route.
Time: 2.5 hours round trip
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 850ft (259m)
Location: Start at the Golden Canyon Trailhead located 2 miles south of CA-190 on Badwater Road.
Parking: Paved lot with large spaces for buses and RV's.
Closest Restroom: A vault toilet is located in the Golden Canyon parking lot.
Route: The route up Golden Canyon is gradually uphill through a rocky corridor of towering golden walls. Look for small signs at each major intersection as you make your way through colorful badlands in search of Gower Gulch. The route from Gower Gulch back to the parking area is gradually downhill offering tight canyon narrows near the canyon mouth where a 25ft (7.6m) dryfall is bypassed on its north side. Minor rock scrambling is necessary to complete the entire route as you climb over and down 4ft (1.2m) ledges. Click on the map above for more details.
 
Narrow passage through canyon with golden colored walls.
Golden Canyon - Gower Gulch Circuit

NPS - Dan Kish

Complete Circuit
Length: 7.8 mile (12.6km) loop
Time: 4.5 hours round trip
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 834ft (254m)
Location: Start at at Zabriskie Point or Golden Canyon parking lots.
Parking: Paved lots with large spaces for buses and RV's.
Closest Restroom: Vault toilets are available at Zabriskie Point and Golden Canyon parking lots.
Route: Don't miss a thing by completing this classic trip up Golden Canyon to the red fluted walls of Red Cathedral. Next, wind your way through the maze of colorful badlands up to iconic Zabriskie Point, an ideal place for a lunch break where you can enjoy the most popular viewpoint in the park. Finally, make your way down to Gower Gulch where it's all downhill between towering back to the valley. Click on the map above for details.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 579
Death Valley, CA 92328

Phone:

(760) 786-3200

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