Pets allowed
Not Allowed
Elevation Gain
796.00 ft (242.62 m)
Trail type
3.80 mi (6.12 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass


Beautiful canyon. Great views at the top. Relatively less-crowded.


Hot and exposed during much of the day.

Trailhead Elevation

-174.00 ft (-53.04 m)


Big vistas
Geologically significant


Nearby Adventures

Nearby Lodging + Camping


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