The Golden Canyon to Red Cathedral to Zabriskie Point to Gower Gulch loop hike is the 'best of' hike in Death Valley. It offers classic Death Valley geology, epic viewpoints, a dose of history, and enough mileage to make it a proper hike. If you are only doing one hike at Death Valley, this is the route to pick.
- The Best Way to Do the Golden Canyon Loop
- Where to Park
- Printable Directions & Maps
- What You'll See on the Hike
When planning, always check the park website and social media to make sure the trails are open. Similarly, check the weather and road conditions.
Where is the Golden Canyon Loop?
There's a primitive toilet at the lot, but no water. Fill up before you get here.
Gear For the Hike
- 2L of water is a good amount for when it's cool out. If it's warm, bring 3L to be safe.
- The sun can be harsh when it reflects off of the rocks. I find sunglasses help protect my eyes from snow (sand) blindness.
- Trail runners or sneakers with fitness clothing work well on these trails.
I waste my time with lousy hiking gear so you don't have to. Only the winners get onto my gear page. There's no fluff, sponsorships, or promotions. It's just gear I personally use, have tested, and recommend. Right now I'm liking my inReach Mini 2, Garmin Epix, and Lone Peak 6 shoes.
My February 2023 Top Gear Picks
Heat has killed hikers on the Golden Canyon Trail. People who don't take Death Valley's conditions seriously die every summer. I'd give the hike a pass if the high temperature is above the 80F mark.
Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch Loop Hike Trail Maps
Guides to Help You Navigate
|Golden Canyon Trailhead||0||-120|
|Gower Gulch to Start||7.5||-120|
Hike Route Directions
Are you a Star Wars fan? Golden Canyon is where R2D2 got tased by Jawas in the first Star Wars movie.
Use the trail markers on this next section to find the correct path. There are dozens of markers between here and Zabriskie Point.
Manly Beacon is named after William L. Manly, who, in 1849, scouted a path out of this area for trapped pioneers. When they left this area behind, they allegedly looked back and said, "Goodbye, Death Valley" and that's how the area got its name.
Chris Zabriskie was a big wig at the Pacific Coast Borax Company, which mined borax throughout this area. Many of the geographic points around here are named after the companies executives.
Today most commercial borax comes from the mine in Boron, CA, or from mines in Turkey.
Have a question about the guide or want to see what other people are saying/asking? View the Youtube comments for this video. Leave a comment and I will do my best to respond.
This Guide Was Written by Cris Hazzard
Hi, I'm Cris Hazzard, aka Hiking Guy, a professional outdoors guide, hiking expert, and author based in Southern California. I created this website to share all the great hikes I do with everyone else out there. This site is different because it gives detailed directions that even the beginning hiker can follow. I also share what hiking gear works and doesn't so you don't waste money. I don't do sponsored or promoted content; I share only the gear recommendations, hikes, and tips that I would with my family and friends. If you like the website and YouTube channel, please support these free guides (I couldn't do it without folks like you!).
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