Death Valley – Golden Canyon

After leaving Devils Golf Course, I had time for one last hike before having to make my way back towards Vegas (in case the funeral calls for an early flight).  Took a quick look at the map and continued my sampling of the Badwater Road destinations by checking out the Golden Canyon hike.  Temperatures were rising into the 80’s around midday which helped clear out the morning crowd – helpful as this is one of the most popular places in the whole park.

The trail itself is fairly tame but does gradually climb a few hundred feet over the course of a mile or two.  From the trailhead you begin by wandering through a canyon of flatirons and golden mounds of the badlands.  Far in the distance, huge red rock cliffs appear with a pronounced sharp vertical face.

At this point the trail forks off.  I continued towards the red for a closer view of a rock formation called the Red Cathedral.  This required a bit of crawling into tight spaces (not for the claustrophobic).

At the end of the path standing on slippery gravel scree you can get a very close view.  It does look a bit like some kind of fantasy LOTR-esque building.

The view back down the canyon isn’t too shabby either.

After a brief respite I scrambled back down to the other fork in the trail which leads to another golden rock formation immediately adjacent to Red Cathedral called Manly Beacon.  Photos don’t truly show how large this is – if it was the Lion King and Rafiki was dangling Simba above he would look like an ant.

Views here down the canyon are also quite amazing.  The trail continues from here to a larger loop that even connects back to Zabriskie Point but I was out of time today.

Temps were continuing to heat up into the 90s now which helped drive most visitors back to camp for siesta.  Views heading back down the trail always amaze me with how different they look – almost like a whole new hike!

Hiking Data

There’s a reason this is one of the most popular areas in Death Valley: while elevation gain can be made strenuous if you choose, the “main” Golden Canyon hike is relatively tame and can be done by visitors of all skill level without much difficulty.  Views in the area are hard to beat.  Wish I had the time to do the full loops but will have to wait until future visits.

Lat = 36.420578 , Long = -116.8468704 -- Show at Google Maps

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