Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

 

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Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

We started our hike in Death Valley on a cold December morning. Death Valley is the lowest and driest place in the United States. In the summer months, it is also the hottest place in United States. Sitting below sea level, Death Valley is most popular in the winter months.

Views from Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Views from Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Views from Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

 

We drove to Zabriskie Point to explore the Badlands Loop. The trailhead was to the right of the parking lot, it took us over a rocky hill into a narrow gully made of mudstone on both sides. Soon, the narrow gully opened up and intersected what looked like a very wide wash, called Gower's Gulch. At this point, we had the option of taking Gower's Gulch or Golden Canyon routes. We learned the hard way that the correct decision was Golden Canyon. A steady climb up the Golden Canyon route was rewarded with views of multi-hued mudstone for miles. Dark and light bands decorated the mudstone set in front of us, with many many carved mountain sides. These “ribs” of the mountain were carved by rainwater that came down heavily (though sporadically). These ribs provided a quick way for water to flow off the mountain. Pictures don't do justice to the beauty of what stood before us.

Views from Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Views from Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Views from Badlands Loop, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

 

Our hike, Badlands Loop, was 2.5 miles long and took about 2 hours to complete. It connected to Golden Canyon Trailhead which I've read was about 6 miles long. I would have liked to continue on to Golden Canyon Trailhead but we had a time constraint.  We hiked this trail in the winter - December. The sky was blue with not a cloud in the sky. I would avoid this trail if there is any rain in the forecast as I can imagine dangerous flash flood situations arising. Hats, gloves, layers were all in order as the air was chilly. Snacks and water were our companions as well, not so much due to the distance but more to keep safe if we got lost. I imagine in the spring or fall, this hike would be warmer requiring a lot more water and other warm weather hiking precautions. Summertime I imagine would be unbearable at high temperatures. If you prefer not to walk, there is a lookout that will give you a quick view of the Badlands.

Hikes from Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Hikes from Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

 

Practical Information (as of December 2016):

Our Hike: Badlands Loop: 2.5 miles, NOT a warm weather hike due to extreme temperatures

Features: Walk on ridges for views of multi-colored mudstone mountains, walk in gulleys to feel the mountains surround you

Directions: This hike is off Zabrieski Point on CA-190 in Death Valley National Park, California.

Fees: $25 at self serve kiosk (bring exact change) or Free with Intra-Agency Annual Parks Pass (which provides free entry into Federal lands across the country for $80 per year

Amenities: vault toilet, parking

Website: Death Valley National Park, California

Other: When hiking in deserts and canyons, pay attention to the weather forecast, as rain in any surrounding area may cause dangerous flashfloods. Check with Rangers if in doubt.

 

Warning: The safety of these adventures are dependent on a variety of factors including but not limited to: terrain, weather, wildlife, hiker skill level, human error, and other foreseen and unforeseen circumstances. Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information provided at the time of publication, we do not assume any liability for the accuracy and completeness of the information provided.  As such, we will not be held responsible for any harm, injury, and/or loss that may result. Your personal judgement on the safety of each adventure is required at all times. Please use your own discretion and be safe.

 

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