Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park

Walking & Hiking

Hiking in Death Valley is uniquely rewarding, but harsh terrain and extreme temperatures demand careful preparation. Before venturing out on a hike, it is vital to pack sunscreen, plentiful amounts of water, food and foot protection. Be prepared for significantly cooler weather at higher elevations. Avoid hiking alone, and always let someone else know your planned route.

Things to Know Before You Go

Water is a necessity. Bring at least two liters for a winter-day hike, and four liters or more if you plan to venture out in summer. Always bring extra supplies for longer hikes.

Constructed trails are rare in the park. Trails are provided in places that are heavily used and sensitive to damage. If a trail is there, please use it. Most hiking routes in the park are cross-country, up canyons or along ridges. Footing will likely be rough and rocky.

Hiking the low elevations can be dangerous when it's hot. The best time to hike in Death Valley is October through April. Avoid the salt flats in hot weather. When temperatures are above 100°F, visitors are advised not to walk away from their vehicles onto the salt flats (or anywhere below sea level). There is no shade to protect hikers from blazing reflected sunlight, and summer ground temperatures can exceed 200°F. 

Flash floods are a possibility anytime. In Death Valley, storms can form suddenly. Even if it's not raining where you happen to be hiking, torrential rain on higher ground can fill washes and canyons quickly. Be aware of weather conditions; if it begins to rain, get out of a wash or streambed and onto higher ground. Also be aware of flash flood channels when you park for a day hike to ensure that your car will remain where you left it.

Dogs and bicycles are not allowed on trails or in the wilderness.

Short/Day Hikes

Golden Canyon to Zabriskie Point: Moderate, five miles round-trip (half-day). This unmaintained trail winds over ridges to Zabriskie Point and returns along Gower Gulch to Badwater Road, then continues north to Golden Canyon parking lot. Trail can be reversed. The trail starts three miles south of the visitor center on the Badwater Road.

Natural Bridge Canyon: Moderate, 0.5-mile round-trip (two hours). Gradual uphill walk past unique geological features and a bridge. Starts three miles off Badwater Road, 15 miles south of the visitor center.

Mosaic Canyon: Moderately difficult, one to four miles round-trip (one hour). Begins three miles off Route 190, just west of Stovepipe Wells Village. Constant, gradual uphill trail winds through the canyon and requires scaling some dry falls at the upper end.

Sand Dunes: Moderate, 0.5-mile round-trip (or longer) improvisational walk across sand dunes. Start two miles east of the village of Stovepipe Wells. Best light is at dawn and dusk. Keep sight of your car because distances can be deceiving in the desert.

Titus Canyon Narrows: Easy to difficult, two miles to 11.1 miles round-trip. Constant uphill walk through deep gravel. Klare Spring and petroglyphs are 5.5 miles from the start. Watch for oncoming vehicles in the narrow canyon. Begins two miles off Scotty's Castle Road, 37 miles north of the visitor center.

Wildrose Charcoal Kilns: Easy, 0.125-mile round-trip (15 minutes). Features beehive-shaped kilns formerly used to produce charcoal for ore smelters in the Argus Range. Located seven miles east of Wildrose Campground, high in the Panamint Range, at the western edge of the park off Route 178.

Wildrose Peak Trail: Moderate, 8.2-mile round-trip begins at the Charcoal Kilns, seven miles east of Wildrose Campground off Route 178. Moderately steep trail winds through Pinyon and Juniper to sweeping views of Death Valley. Best in the afternoon.

Telescope Peak Trail: Strenuous, 14-mile round-trip (all day) begins at Mahogany Flat Campground, nine miles east of Wildrose Campground off Route 178. Steep trail winds through pinyon and juniper to Telescope Peak, the highest point in the park at 11,049 feet. Telescope Peak also offers breathtaking views of both Death Valley to the east and Panamint Valley to the west. Climbing this peak in the winter requires an ice axe and crampons, and is recommended for experienced climbers only. Telescope Peak is usually snow-free by June. Be advised that the high altitude may slow you down.