Golden Canyon

Golden Canyon

LOCATION: Near Furnace Creek, Death Valley National Park

 DESCRIPTION                        reported by Johnathan Behr

  California has an embarrassing amount of spectacular scenery and hiking. From Yosemite to the Redwoods, this state has been blessed with unbelievable natural beauty. Far too often though, hikers neglect California's desert in favor of it's mountains and forests. For mind-blowing, out of this world scenery try the hike up Golden Canyon to Zabriske Point in Death Valley National Park. This excursion easily ranks, as one of the state's most exotic landscapes and best day-hikes to do. That's no surprise if you've been to Death Valley. The park is chock full of amazing geological features like the Racetrack, Devils Golfcourse and Artist's Palette to name just a few, but a late afternoon hike up Golden Canyon to the foot of Manly Beacon reveals the park's most arresting scenery in this humble hiker's opinion. The mudstone badlands and the hike's scenic highlight majestic Red Cathedral and Manly Beacon, literally glow in the last light of the day. If you plan your hike accordingly, the views you'll have along the way will be awe-inspiring! Trust me; bring a camera for this hike. The scenery is magical, almost like you're on Mars! You'll be kicking yourself if you've left it behind. The sensuous curves of the barren, vegetation-free badlands are ideal for cross-country hiking and exploration. Numerous use trails lead off the main path to interesting side canyons and up the mudstone badlands where you'll be rewarded with outstanding views of Death Valley proper and the lofty Panamint Mountains to the east. Towering Manly Beacon and the richly colored Red Cathedral are viewed magnificently from the trail, far better than just driving up to Zabriske Point. This is one of California's most unusual and scenic hikes. Don't miss it!


 Begin your hike at the Golden Cayon. You'll start walking up a narrow slot canyon/dry wash that has seen severe erosion from summer thunderstorms, which are quite common in Death Valley. In fact, you will be walking over the remnants of the old road that went up Golden Canyon to Manly Beacon. Thankfully, Mother Nature reclaimed this canyon with a torrential flash flood some years ago giving it back to the hikers! There is an interpretive trail guide available at the parking area for Golden Cyn. You can use it along the well-marked path to Zabriske Point. You can refer back to the guide during the hike for info on the canyon's unique geological features, which the numbered display makers along the way highlight in tandem with the guide. The narrow canyon will open up and you'll get your first view of Manly Beacon. The trail will begin climbing as you pass Red Cathedral and go right underneath Manly Beacon. From there you will see your turnaround point, Zabriske Point, in the distance. Just keep on the trail and you will gain more outstanding views of Manly Beacon, The Panamint Mountains and the badlands as you make your way to Zabriske Point. Once at the Point, soak up the view and return the way you came.