Death Valley
Trails, Hikes, and Sights



This page is dedicated to Death Valley trails, hikes, and things to do. Go here for general information (weather, directions, animals & plants) or here for information on accommodations.

Death Valley National` Park is over 3.3 million acres in size (close to 3,000 square miles) and it is over 100 miles long. Despite all this space, there are very few designated hiking Death Valley trails. Most hiking routes start at the parking lot and you follow along the natural contours of the land. You may scramble up the side of a sand dune, but you will soon discover that the easiest place to walk is along its crest. You may scramble up and down a crater, but you will soon find that walking along its rim is just as good. Only when there is high foot-traffic or a sensitive habitat will there be a defined Death Valley trail.

So, with that in mind, prepare yourself with lots of water: at least 2L (quarts) of water per person; 4L would be better. Be sure to have appropriate garments: sturdy walking shoes, sunglasses, hats, long sleeve shirts and pants if you can bear it. Apply sunscreen and lip chap as needed. Know your limitations and don't go beyond what you can handle: Death Valley is renown for its extreme and harsh conditions. Dogs (any pets) and bicycles are not permitted on any of the Death Valley trails.




Death Valley Trails: Easy Hikes & Self Guided Tours


Wildrose Charcoal Kilns
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Description:
1/8 mile round trip. Just a get out of the car and look around.
7 miles east of Wildrose Campground. From Hwy 190, take the Emigrant Canyon road south; turn up Wildrose Canyon road to the kilns. The last 3 miles are unpaved.

This stand of 10 giant beehive-like structures represent some of the best surviving examples of charcoal kilns. Very stunning to see, these kilns are 25 feet tall and 30 feet in circumference. Pinyon and Juniper tree were slowly burned in low oxygen to produce charcoal. Each kiln can produce 2000 bushels of charcoal in a week.

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A stand of 10 charcoal kilns.
operational from 1877 to 1878.


Harmony Borax Site
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1/4 mile loop trail. Just a walk, really.
2 miles north of Stovewell Pipe visitor center on Hwy 190
hard-surface road. A simple walk around old adobe houses and old mining equipments from the 1880's. Dry weather in Death Valley preserves these structures such that they can be left outdoors. Has historic value.
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An example of the 20-Mule-Team wagon used to transport borax from Death Valley to the nearest train depot in the Mojave Desert 165 miles away.


Scotty's Castle Walking Tour
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1/2 mile.
53 miles north of the Stovewell Pipes visitor center on Scotty's Castle Road
A walk through the grounds of Scotty's Castle is free of charge. Living history tours of the inside of the castle are available from 9 am to 5 pm for $11. You must pay to enter into the castle. Tours are 50 minutes long and limited to 19 people at a time.

More of an oddity than a sample of Death Valley trails, this Spanish-style castle gives you a glimpse of Scotty's unusual and colorful life. The castle is named after Walter Scott, a cowboy, prospector, performer, and all-around con man. It was actually built as a winter vacation home by Chicago-based millionaire Albert Johnson. But Scotty told everyone that he built the mansion using money from a secret gold mine. More about Scotty here.

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Scotty's Castle which isn't a real castle and doesn't really belong to Scotty.


Golden Canyon Interpretive Trail
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1 mile each direction.
2 miles south of Hwy 190 on Badwater Road
easy Death Valley trail through a colorful canyon. Red Cathedral (steep cliffs made of red colored oxidized rocks) located 1/2 mile up canyon from last numbered marker. Interpretive trail guide available.

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Red Cathedral from Golden Canyon Trail,
Photo by Pierre Camateros


Natural Bridge Canyon
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1/2 mile to natural stone bridge, another 1/2 mile to end of canyon. 15 to 30 minutes walk.
13.2 miles south of Hwy 190; 1.5 miles off Badwater Rd on a gravel road.
gradual uphill walk through narrow canyon and a large natural bridge. Trail ends at dry waterfall.

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Natural Stone Bridge, Death Valley


Salt Creek Interpretive Trail
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1/2 mile loop
start: 13.5 miles north of Furnace Creek, 1 mile off Hwy 190 on a graded gravel road.
Description: one of the few Death Valley trails with a wooden boardwalk. It goes along a small stream which is the remains of the once great lake, Lake Manly. You may see the unique pupfish which exists only in the shallow, hot, salty water found here. Wheelchair accessible. Best in late winter and early spring.

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Pupfish at Salt Creek, Death Valley.
Photo by Daniel Mayer


Titus Canyon Narrows
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1.5 miles to the lower canyon, another 6.5 miles to the petroglyphs.
3 miles off Scotty's Castle Road on a graded gravel road.
go 1.5 miles on an easy walk to lower Titus Canyon. Go another 6.5 miles to petroglyphs at Klare Springs.

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Titus Canyon, Death Valley





Death Valley Trails: Moderate Hikes


Gower Gulch Loop
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5 miles round trip
on Badwater Road, 2 miles south of Hwy 190
colorful badlands, canyon narrows, and old borax mines. Hike up to Golden Canyon (to marker 10), follow trail over badlands to Zabriskie Point OR go down Gower Gulch (no trail, a bit of a scramble). Stark but spectacular.

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Gower Gulch, Death Valley. Photo by Finetooth


Mesquite Sand Dunes
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2 miles to highest dune.
2.2 miles east of Stove pipe Wells on Hwy 190
Graceful desert dunes, animal tracks, rippling sand patterns. No Death Valley trail, hike across freely. See full review here

death valley trails
Mesquite Sand Dunes, Death Valley


Mosaic Canyon
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Description:
1 to 4 miles round trip.
2 miles west of Stovepipe Wells Village on a graded gravel road.
narrows, high marble walls, canyon, bighorn sheep seen on occasion. See full review here

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Narrow slot canyon in Mosaic Canyon


Little Hebe Crater Trail
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1/2 mile loop.
Parking lot is 8 miles west of Scotty's Castle.
Ubehebe crater is 1/2 mile (one kilometer) wide and over 500 feet (150 meters) deep. There are 3 Death Valley trails here: one goes to bottom of Ubehebe; one goes around Ubehebe; and if you hike along west rim of Ubehebe Crater it will take you to Little Hebe.

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Ubehebe Crater and Little Hebe



Dante's Ridge
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1/2 mile to first summit, 4 more miles to Mt Perry.
15 miles south of Furnace Creek, at Dante's View parking lot. Easy access paved road.

follow ridge north of Dante's View for spectacular panoramic view of the entire park. This overlook is is 5000 feet above Death Valley: it's a great place for nighttime stargazing. Picnic tables towards the north. No trail for last 4 miles to Mt Perry.

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Dante's View looking west: Badwater Basin is seen as a white ocean.





Death Valley Trails: Strenuous Hikes


Death Valley Butte
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2 hours round trip.
Hell's Gate parking area on Daylight Pass Rd. 22 miles NE of Furnace Creek
Climb 3 prominent buttes at foot of Grapevine Mountains. From Hell's Gate, walk southwest for 1/2 mile to buttes. Scramble up ridge to summit of first butte. The second butte is more difficult and 0.7 miles further. Descent 300 feet to the saddle then climb 500 feet to the next summit. The ridges are narrow and exposed with steep drops-offs. No official Death Valley trail - just follow the ridge. Experienced mountain climbers call this a "short scramble".

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Aerial view of Death Valley Buttes. Line represents Daylight Pass Rd


Fall Canyon
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Description:
3 mile, one way,
Start at Titus Canyon parking area, 3 miles off Scotty''s Castle Road on graded gravel road.
spectacular wilderness canyon near Titus Canyon. Follow informal path 1/2 miles north along base of mountains, drop into large wash at canyon's mouth, then hike 2.5 miles up canyon to 35 foot dryfall (dry waterfall). Climb around the dryfall, back down the canyon on south side for access to narrows. Canyon continues another 3 miles to second dry fall which dead ends. No trail.

Described as: remote and little-visited, colorful ravine, deep & narrow passages, cave-like sections, twisting sections, layered rocks that buckled & eroded by geological forces.

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Dryfall.


Wildrose Peak Trail
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4.2 miles one way; 4 to 6 hours
start at Charcoal Kilns parking area on upper Wildrose Canyon Rd. 7 miles east of Wildrose Campground.
A good high-peak climb (peak is at 9000 feet) with 2200 feet elevation gain. Trail begins at north end of the kilns; it is level at first, then quickly goes uphill. Hike through a pleasant forest of pinyon trees with spectacular views along the way. Walk along a ridge with more trees then sharp uphill again. The last mile is steep with switchbacks. Eventually reach a plateau where you can stop for a rest. True summit is still a little further north.

This hike is shorter than Telescope Peak trail, but it is harder because it is steep. This hike has less snow so it is more accessible than Telescope Peak.

death valley trailsThe plateau at Wildrose Peak.


Telescope Peak Trail
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7 miles one way, 7-9 hours.
Mahogany Flat Campground, 9 miles east of Wildrose Campground off route 178
This trail leads you to Telescope Peak, the highest peak in Death Valley (11,049 feet above sea level). A total of 3000 feet elevation gain on a rough, steep trail. Experienced hikers only.

The Death Valley trail starts out steep for the first two miles then levels off onto a ridge. Easy walking for the next 3 miles where you weave through old and gnarled pine trees (Single-leaf Pinyon, Limber Pine, and Great Basin Bristlecone Pine). Last 2 miles is steep uphill with switchbacks.

Requires ice picks and crampons (snow melts in June). At the peak, look east to see a great view of Death Valley. Look west to see Panamint Valley.

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Telescope Peak in Death Valley. Note the presence of trees..



More Death Valley Trails and Things to do


Zabriskie Point: This is a very popular outlook offering wonderfully colored badlands, golden mudstone hills. Panoramic view of wild and unforgettable landscape. 5 miles south of Furnace Creek; short uphill walk from parking area. Photo by Doug Dolde

Eureka Dunes: 3 square miles in size and up to 700 feet high, these sand dunes are the highest dunes in all of North America. The dry weather and slipping sand sometimes causes a "booming" sound which gives these dunes the nick name of "Singing Dunes". Accessible only via a rough, 47 mile dirt road: no one wonder it's so pristine!


Lee Flat Joshua Trees: a nice stand of tree-sized yuccas.


Aguereberry Point: a wonderful look-outpoint giving you a view of Death Valley. 6 mile dirt road.


The Racetrack Playa: large rocks as heavy as 700 pounds are slowly moved along a dry lakebed. These boulders scrape tracks on the ground. No one knows how this happens but geologist surmise that rain, ice and/or snow lubricates the ground while the wind moves the rocks. Located 28 miles southwest of Ubehebe Crater; rough, unpaved, dirt road; high clearance vehicle recommended. Photo by Lgcharlot


Father Crowley Point: landscape of dark lava flows, and volcanic cinders, abruptly gives way to gash of rainbow canyon below this viewpoint. Walk the dirt tract east of the parking lot to a grand overlook of norther Panamint valley.