The 2-mile round trip hike up Natural Bridge Canyon is a great trek for those interested in learning about the geological history of Death Valley National Park. Also, the natural bridge is just cool to walk under.
A panel at the trailhead provides illustrations of the various geological features visible in the canyon, making it easy for hikers to spot the faults, chutes, and mud drippings along the way.
From the panel, the trail quickly enters the mouth of the canyon. The gravel floor makes hiking uphill a bit tiresome (but hiking back down is a breeze). Half a mile from the start, the walls of the canyon narrow and the 50-foot tall natural bridge spans the canyon.
Differential erosion created the impressive bridge. This is the main attraction of the hike of course, but the canyon has more to offer.
Continue under the bridge and the canyon will bend past a dry falls that pours into the canyon. Thousands of years ago, a stream flowed into the canyon here. The long vertical chute was created when the canyon eroded much more rapidly than the stream bed above.
The trail then presents two easy obstacles. Scrunch down to get around a large bolder lodged in a narrow part of the canyon. Then cross a sloping marble dry falls, which can be easily climbed, before coming to a 20-foot dry falls that cannot. The trail stops here. Turn around and hike back out the canyon, enjoying another passage under the nature bridge.
To get to the trailhead: From Furnace Creek, drive 13 miles south on Badwater Road and turn east (left) on to a dirt road toward Natural Bridge Canyon. It is 1.5 miles from Badwater Road to the trailhead.
Trailhead address: Natural Bridge Road, Death Valley National Park, CA 92328
Trailhead coordinates: 36.28115, -116.7699 (36° 16′ 52.1″N 116° 46′ 11.6″W)
|Golden Canyon - Gower Gulch Loop |
This 4-mile loop visits stunning terrain in the badlands region near Furnace Creek.
|Artist's Drive |
This 9-mile drive crosses a sloping mountainside composed of vibrant soil colored by rich metals.
|Badwater Basin |
This is the lowest place in North America -- a required stop for first time visitors to Death Valley.
|Sidewinder Canyon |
This 4 to 7-mile hike visits narrow slot canyons full of pour-overs, carve outs, and dark passages that beg to be explored.
|Death Valley |
Explore more destinations in Death Valley National Park.
|Death Valley Campgrounds |
Nine campgrounds are spread throughout this large park to facilitate your visit.