Desolation Canyon Hike

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley, California

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Desolation Canyon Hike

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  • Parking area for Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Entering the Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Typical soft rock hills of Death Valley.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Many side canyons beckon.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Beautiful colored canyon walls.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Climbing the tallest ledge on the trail.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Looking back from the top of Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • The Artist's Palette hills backed by the Panamint Mountains.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Looking down on Death Valley.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Hills above Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Snow-covered Telescope Peak to the west.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Headed back down Desolation Canyon.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • The lower part of Desolation Canyon.- Desolation Canyon Hike
  • Leaving the canyon.- Desolation Canyon Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Beautiful canyon. Great views at the top. Relatively less-crowded.
Cons: 
Hot and exposed during much of the day.
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Region:
Death Valley, CA
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
796.00 ft (242.62 m)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Fall
Suitable for: 
Hiking
Total Distance: 
3.80 mi (6.12 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
-174.00 ft (-53.04 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

If hiking a narrow canyon with crowds of other tourists is not that appealing, hiking the lesser-known Desolation Canyon in Death Valley National Park may prove a better option. Passing the crowded parking lot at the Golden Canyon trailhead on Badwater Road, proceed to the unmarked dirt road on the left between the 3- and 4-mile marker. From the parking area, head northeast to the entrance of the big canyon. This trail is not signed, but it is fairly well-marked along the route as to which branch of the canyon to follow.

The canyon gets progressively narrower for the first mile until it reaches a series of rock ledges across the wash. One of these is about 8-feet high, and it is a bit tricky to climb, but not difficult. The others are shorter and easier. Along here there are many side canyons that are generally marked with a row of rocks across the entrance to signify that it is not the main trail. The canyon here is similar to the terrain of the nearby Artists Palette area, with orange and green rocks colored by iron and other minerals. The last 200 yards of the trail gets a bit steep, but that means the end is near. At the top of the ridge is a spectacular 360-degree view that makes the climb very worthwhile. From this point, the Artists Drive is visible just a short distance to the southwest.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(5 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(20 within a 30 mile radius)

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Adventure Community

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Who's Done It
2 Members
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