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.

Death Valley Badlands Landscape
Looking down Gower Gulch

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.

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: 36.42085, -116.8099 (36° 25′ 15.1″N 116° 48′ 35.6″W)

Elevation Profile
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Trail Map

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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 Valley Golden Canyon - Gower Gulch Loop
This 4-mile loop visits stunning terrain in the badlands region near Furnace Creek.
Zabriskie Point Zabriskie Point
Zabriskie Point offers a stunning panorama of the badlands near Furnace Creek.
Twenty Mule Team Canyon Twenty 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 Valley Death Valley
Explore more destinations in Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley Camping Death Valley Campgrounds
Nine campgrounds spread are 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

6 Comments on Badlands Loop in Death Valley National Park

  1. nick wrote:

    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 wrote:

      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.

  2. I wasn’t really planning to do this hike… but after seeing the view from Zabriskie Point and the trails below, it looked worth making the effort. Glad I did. Stunning rock formations and views from the trail, and pretty easy walking!

  3. […] for a spectacular panoramic view. And it’s the starting point for several trails, including a 2.5-mile loop hike into the beauty of the […]

  4. […] The badlands terrain of Zabriskie is full of impressive yellow and grey canyons. It might be one of the most recognizable and certainly one of the most picturesque stops in Death Valley. If you stay longer than for the day, I recommend taking one of the fun hikes that are leading through these scenic canyons.  Mapped-out trail suggestions, like the 2.5 mi / 4km Badland’s Loop, are posted at the parking lot info signs, and there is more valuable information here. […]

  5. […] and walk up a small hill to reach the viewpoint, if you have time, this area is home to the amazing Badlands Trail Loop. It is about two miles and gets you walking through the canyons. However, if you are in a time […]

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