Golden Canyon Trail: Death Valley, California
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The perfect chaser to a sunrise at Zabriskie Point is the hike down through the badlands into Death Valley proper. In the cool of the morning, this is an easy, downhill walk through one of the most beautiful areas in the park.
There are two routes to the bottom, both of which end up at the same place—the Golden Canyon trailhead. The shorter of the two routes, which split off from each other about a mile from the trailhead at Zabriskie Point, descends through Golden Canyon. This 2.7 mile hike is more open than the alternative route, yielding unforgettable views of distant vistas that are hidden when in Gower Gulch (see image #3).
The 3.3 mile Gower Gulch route winds through the bottom of a dramatic and very colorful canyon. I find Gower Gulch far more varied and interesting than Golden Canyon itself. The downside is that once the two routes split one does not re-emerge from Gower Gulch until arriving in Death Valley. Both routes are worthy but, on the whole, I prefer the Golden Canyon Trail route; it holds more appeal photographically.
It is worth noting that making either route work requires a way to get back up to Zabriskie Point—preferrably without walking.
[Click on a thumbnail to view the entire image.]
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