Best Death Valley Hikes

While there are few maintained trails in the park, old mining roads, narrow canyons, and natural features offer some of the best Death Valley hikes.

Golden Canyon and Gower Gulch

Effort: Moderate
Hike through glowing Golden Canyon and past historic borax mining ruins to the spectacular views from Zabriskie Point, the stunning halfway point on this 6-mile round-trip trek. Shorter destinations include equally striking Red Cathedral.

Hiking trail through Golden Canyon in Death Valley, California . ©Kwiktor, Dreamstime.

Hungry Bill’s Ranch

Effort: Difficult
Historic Hungry Bill’s Ranch was tied to one of the biggest silver rushes in the area. The 3.3-mile round-trip hike is via Johnson Canyon, one of the most-watered canyons in Death Valley. Gorgeous canyon views and hand-built rock walls make this well worth the effort it takes to drive the rough, four-wheel-drive-only road to get here.

Ashford Canyon

Effort: Difficult
Colorful Ashford Canyon leads to the tucked away and well-preserved Ashford Mine Camp. Gold mining caught on in the area in 1907; the Ashford Mine was worked until the 1940s, when it was finally abandoned, leaving behind cabins, underground rooms, and the trappings of camp life. The steep 4.2-mile round-trip hike follows the canyon and pieces of the old mining road.

Sidewinder Canyon

Effort: Easy
Half the fun of Sidewinder Canyon is the fun of discovery. Hikes range 2-4 miles or more to explore three different slot canyons and the twisting arches, hollows, natural bridges, and sculpted narrows that make up this sinewy maze at the base of Smith Mountain. The trailhead is south of Badwater Basin off of Badwater Road.

Mosaic Canyon

Effort: Easy
Mosaic Canyon is a popular hiking destination. This 2.8-mile round-trip trek through the canyons of the Cottonwood Mountains wanders through polished marble and colorful mosaic stone. The trailhead is just outside Stovepipe Wells.

narrow pathway through rock canyons in Death Valley
Hikers visit Mosaic Canyon for the canyon polished narrows. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Ubehebe Peak

Effort: Difficult
Unlike other Death Valley hikes, there is an actual trail to Ubehebe Peak; miners built it as a mule trail to haul out copper ore. A difficult 6-mile round-trip climb rewards with sweeping views of The Racetrack and the Saline Valley.

Telescope Peak

Effort: Strenuous
At 11,049 feet, Telescope Peak is the highest point in Death Valley. Covered in snow most of the year, this 14-mile round-trip hike is strenuous but worth it. Plan your attempt in May or June for premium views.

hiking trail leading to panoramic views of Death Valley
Ancient pines and views of Death Valley make Wildrose Peak worth the effort. Photo © Jenna Blough.

Wildrose Peak

Effort: Moderate
The steep hike to 9,064-foot Wildrose Peak leads through conifer forests, offering some welcome shade for hiking. The limber and bristlecone pine-studded trail stretches 9 miles round-trip, but pays off with impressive views of Death Valley Canyon and Trail Canyon.

Surprise Canyon to Panamint City

Effort: Strenuous
The silver boom ghost town of Panamint City can only be reached via a long, strenuous hike through the scenic and well-watered Surprise Canyon. This 10-mile round-trip hike is best done as a backpacking trip: plan one day to hike in, a day to explore, and a day to hike out.

Jenna Blough

About the Author

Jenna Blough grew up on the edge of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, where she was allowed to run wild, instilling a love of the outdoors early on. After her parents dragged her and her sister on a cross-country road trip of epic proportions (visiting American classics like Wall Drug in South Dakota, Mesa Verde in Colorado, and the Petrified Forest in Arizona) she developed an equal appreciation for Wild West roadside attractions, historic sites, and wilderness.

Jenna eventually found the California desert to be her geographic soul mate. Drawn by the austere beauty of Death Valley, she is fascinated by its cultural history, ghost towns, native sites, and the Mojave's shifting landscape.

Jenna received an undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology, an MA in English literature, and an MFA in writing. When she's not living out of a tent, Jenna resides in Los Angeles with her husband Ryan Jones. Visit her blog at

Learn more about this author

Pin it for Later

Death Valley Hikes Pinterest graphic