Death Valley Badlands Loop hike Death Valley National Park

Badlands Loop offers a great immersion into the terrain beneath Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park. This 2.5-mile hike is all badlands. Anyone who hiked the Golden Canyon – Gower Gulch Loop and enjoyed the middle section of the trek will love the Badlands Loop.

The trail starts down an obvious gully just north of the Zabriskie Point parking lot. The gully expands as it descends, gradually leading hikers into a major artery of Gower Gulch. About half a mile in, a sign marks the start of the circular part of the loop. To the right, the trail climbs out of the wash and up a badlands slope. To the left, the trail continues into Gower Gulch.

The loop is easiest to follow by turning to the right. March up the dried mudstone and the views of the badlands widen. Manly Beacon and Red Cathedral appear over waves of orange mudstone. The trail puts hikers right in the center of this arid terrain.

Death Valley Badlands Landscape
Borax mines in the badlands

Borax, called white gold by miners, was mined extensively in this region in the 1880s and many mines shafts remain. The Badlands Loop descends a divide past several abandoned Borax mines. They are unstable and not for exploration.

The footpath continues down the badlands, eventually depositing onto a large wash at a marked junction with the Golden Canyon – Gower Gulch Trail.

To complete the second half of the Badlands Loop, turn left and follow the wash down to a merger with the wide gravelly mega-drainage known as Gower Gulch. Turn left again and follow Gower Gulch uphill toward Zabriskie Point.

Death Valley Badlands Landscape
Looking down Gower Gulch

Those who prefer to trek across a bit more of the badlands may cut the corner above the confluence.

Follow the main channel of Gower Gulch as it curves to the left, leading back to the sign marking the top of the loop. From here, follow the same gully back up the trailhead.

To get to Zabriskie Point: From Furnace Creek, drive southeast on Highway 109 for 4 miles. Turn right into the parking lot for Zabriskie Point.

Trailhead address: Zabriskie Point Road, Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, CA 92328
Trailhead coordinates: 36.420834, -116.809798 (36° 25′ 15.00″N 116° 48′ 35.27″W)

 

Elevation Profile
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Trail Map

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Photos

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These photos were taken in November of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Trail Map

Badlands Map

Nearby Trails & Attractions
Golden Canyon Death ValleyGolden Canyon – Gower Gulch Loop
This 4-mile loop visits stunning terrain in the badlands region near Furnace Creek.
Zabriskie PointZabriskie Point
Zabriskie Point offers a stunning panorama of the badlands near Furnace Creek.
Twenty Mule Team CanyonTwenty Mule Team Canyon
This 2.8-mile one way road is just up the road from Zabriskie Point. The fine canyon that can be experienced right from the driver’s seat.
hike Death ValleyDeath Valley
Explore more destinations in Death Valley National Park.
Camping
Death Valley CampingDeath Valley Campgrounds
There are nine campgrounds spread throughout this large park to facilitate your visit.
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Tagged with · Badlands · Desert Canyons · National Parks
Distance: 2.5 miles · Elevation change: 300 feet

2 Comments on Badlands Loop in Death Valley National Park

  1. nick says:

    I managed to get lost on this trek. Ended up down there for 3 hours on my own and ran out of water and almost hope of ever finding my way back. Was close to death…literally..:-(

    • abc124 says:

      Please carry a PLB next time and if you can afford it a GPS and a satelite phone. If you know the area atleast use a map and a compass.

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