Rise and Shine Zabriskie Hike

Sunrise Hike from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley

The sunrise at Zabriskie Point makes a grand entrance, with the light ascending slowly and washing over the golden badlands. It’s signature Death Valley.

It’s also a great starting point for one of the Valley’s marquee hikes, in Golden Canyon. Muster that early bird energy and go big on a 6.5-mile (round-trip) counter-clockwise loop up and through Golden Canyon.

A woman taking a photo of sunrise from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park

The marked trail leaves right from Zabriskie Point, descending into the canyon for just over half a mile. Follow the wash a short distance to the marked Badlands Loop trail. You’ll have a short but sharp ascent to the high point, and a panorama featuring a swirl of creamsicle-colored badlands and a towering spire—the famous Manly Beacon.

On sunny days the sandstone is ignited a “hue-tiful” orange, yellow, and red. It’s also where you most expect Baby Yoda to pop up, so otherworldly is the terrain here.

Descend back to the canyon floor, following signs for Golden Canyon … once you are out and at the parking lot, head south toward Gower Gulch.

Within a mile you’ll enter Gower Gulch where you’ll have a few brief but manageable scrambles up and through some rocky spots—eventually the canyon significantly widens and levels out. Abandoned mine shafts from the 1880s feature into sections as you follow the trail and signposts.

Woman hiking in Gower Gulch in Golden Canyon in Death Valley National Park

Continue on a section of the Badlands Loop, heading toward Zabriskie Point again. Take the trail back up to Zabriskie and savor the exquisite vista one more time!

Zabriskie Point is 3.5 miles east of Furnace Creek on Hwy. 190. Map. The viewpoint is a short walk uphill from the parking area. NOTE: Stop by the Furnace Creek Visitor Center to speak with a ranger and pick up a trail map for this hike. No dogs.

STAY: The Inn at Death Valley is perfectly located in the heart of the park, close to many of its iconic attractions. A combination of historic and modern, the mission motif blends into the desert backdrop.

The dining room and lounge here are an upscale rustic with desert and mountain views. Rooms are elegant (for a splurge, go for the luxury casitas, hidden within the date palms on the property), and the outdoor spring-fed warm pool is a respite for relaxing on the patio with a tasty prickly pear margarita.

In the evening, fire pits by the lobby patio keep things relaxing and cozy under the winter stars.

There's also the more casual The Ranch at Death Valley not far from the Inn; its American West ethos is welcoming, and the outdoor patio with a giant fireplace is made for relaxing. The Last Kind Words Saloon is popular for dining, and the neighboring 1849 restaurant offers buffets.

TIP: If you’re entering Death Valley National Park from Las Vegas via Pahrump, be sure to stop in at Pahrump’s coolest place for merch: Death Valley Marketplace is a creatively curated store filled with all variety of unique souvenirs, locally sourced and handcrafted skincare products, a delightful Candy Corner, specialty soft drinks, and plenty more cool and quirky stuff to commemorate your experience.

Trending Stories NorCal

View all Stories
  1. Taking the Stage: Tyler Ranch

    Hike the recently opened Tyler Ranch Staging Area in Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, with 18 miles of new trails. This 6.5-mile loop up Sunol Peak is a challenge and rewards with exceptional views of seasonal iridescent hills.

  2. Swing into Spring

    Swing into this 7.1-mile hike in the hills of Half Moon Bay! It’s got gorgeous views, fields of spring wildflowers, and a hidden rustic tree swing.

  3. The Carson Show

    Carson Falls is ready for primetime. This three-tiered, 100-foot stunner is hidden back in a canyon outside of Fairfax and reached on a 3.25-mile (round-trip) hike.

  4. woman kneeling and signing peak book at Mount Olympia in Mount Diablo State Park

    Double Up on Diablo

    Set the tone for 2024 with this twofer summit hike at Mount Diablo State Park. Embark on a 7-mile out-and-back up Mount Olympia and Diablo’s lesser-known summit, North Peak.


Trending Stories SoCal

View all Stories
  1. Hiker overlooking Bear Gulch Reservoir at Pinnacles National Park near Monterey

    Pinnacles of Spring

    Why hike at Pinnacles National Park? Spring's a beautiful time of year here. And you might spy the magnificent California condor soaring while you gain soaring views from the High Peaks Trail.

  2. Caves in Mojave

    No one expects to see caves when they visit the desert, and that’s part of what makes Mitchell Caverns in the Mojave Desert such an interesting place. Go on a two-hour guided adventure tour through Mitchell Caverns in Providence Mountains State Recreation Area.

  3. Sponsored

    Port of Call

    Nestled by the sea on the majestic Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, Port Townsend is for travelers who treasure small town charm and natural beauty.

  4. Lava Lava

    Once a land of volcanic activity, Mojave National Preserve shares plenty about its past via a quick yet adventurous hike to the Lava Tube in the Cima Dome Volcanic Field.