Golden Canyon

A gravel wash winds between bare yellow hills, with dark clouds overhead.
A walk up Golden Canyon immerses hikers in the stark beauty of Death Valley.

NPS/ E. Letterman

Quick Facts
Death Valley National Park
Hiking Trail

Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Toilet - Vault/Composting, Trailhead

There's gold in these hills!


Of course, the gold isn't in the form of a precious metal, but instead refers to the incredible yellow coloration of the canyon walls. While a peek into the canyon mouth from the parking area will give visitors a glimpse of the canyon's secrets, hiking into the canyon offers so much more: towering walls, colorful side canyons beckoning for exploration, ripples formed by ancient water, now preserved in stone, the history of a road reclaimed in a flash-flood event, and the skittering of wildlife.  

This easy/moderate hike is 2 miles (3.2 km) round-trip, and involves one 3 foot (1 m) rock scramble. Although most hikers turn around at the junction to Red Cathedral, those looking for a more adventurous hike can continue an additional 0.5 miles (0.8 km) to the vertically fluted walls of a natural amphitheater- Red Cathedral (this involves scrambling and squeezing/crawling through rock spaces). An even longer trek- 7.8 miles (12.6 km), will take hikers to Zabriskie Point, before looping back to the parking area via Gower Gulch. 

Want to learn more? Check out the Golden Canyon Hike audio tour on the free NPS App.


Round Trip Length: 2-7.8 miles (3.2-12.6 km) depending on route
Round Trip Time: 1.5 to 4.5 hours depending on route 
Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
Elevation Gain: 535 ft to 834ft (163m to 254m)
Trail Type: Official trail; loop or out and back depending on route
Location: 2 miles (3.2 km) south of CA-190 on Badwater Road
Parking: Paved lot. Large spaces for RVs and buses.
Closest Restroom: Vault toilet located in parking lot. No restroom along the trail. Do not leave toilet paper in the canyons. 
Route: A maze of canyons and badlands create many choose-your-own-adventure hiking opportunities. Free maps available at Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

Note: pets are not allowed on any trail in Death Valley National Park, even if carried. Do not leave your animal in your vehicle. Speak with a ranger about one of the incredible dirt roads where you may walk your pet.

Death Valley National Park

Last updated: January 12, 2024