8 Best Hikes in Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park Overview

Death Valley National Park is no joke! The desert temperatures in the summer can be unbearable so be very careful especially if hiking and bring plenty of water. Having said that, there is a lot more diversity and beauty in the desert than you might think. Colorful canyons, salt basins, and beautiful vistas highlight this national park. The 8 best hikes in Death Valley described below are must-dos for any adventure seeker visiting the lowest place in North America.

StateCaliforina; Nevada
Nearest Metro AreaLas Vegas, NV
Area Size3,373,063 acres
EstablishedOctober 31, 1994
Hiking Trails94 miles

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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Death Valley National Park

Telescope Peak Trail
Sunset on Death Valley
Sunset on Death Valley, Photo by Jonathan Cook-Fisher

Telescope Peak is the highest point in Death Valley National Park. At around 2 miles, the trail levels out at Arcane Meadows before following a narrow, winding ridge line to the summit. The trailhead starts at the Mahogany Flat Campground.

  • 14.0 miles out and back
  • 3000′ elevation gain
  • Strenuous
Golden Canyon, Gower Gulch, and Badlands Loop
Golden Canyon, Death Valley
Golden Canyon, Death Valley, Photo by Rennett Stowe

It is worth your while to complete the entire circuit of the area including Red Cathedral and the beautiful viewpoint of Zabriskie Point. The loop combines Golden Canyon, Badlands, and Gower Gulch Trails making it one of the best hikes in Death Valley. The trailhead starts at the parking area on Badwater Road 2 miles south of CA-190.

  • 7.8 mile loop
  • 800′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Fall Canyon Trail
18 Death Valley 2017
Fall Canyon, Photo by Chetan Kolluri

Running northwest, this trail takes you into the mouth of Fall Canyon with its colorful canyon walls and the change to see some of the area’s wildlife. The beautiful narrows are what makes this one of the best hikes in Death Valley National Park. The trailhead is 2.5 miles down Titus Canyon Road.

  • 6.4 miles out and back
  • 2450′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Mosaic Canyon Trail 
Mosaic Canyon Death Valley
Mosaic Canyon Death Valley, Photo by United Themes

Beautiful canyon trail named after the fragments of rock that can be seen locked within a natural cement, looking like a mosaic. There are a few parts of the trail that seem impassable due to heavy boulders in the path but there are hidden routes if you know how to get to them! The trailhead is 2.5 miles down Mosaic Canyon Road.

  • 4.0 miles out and back
  • 1000′ elevation gain
  • Moderate
Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes
Alien Landscape
Alien Landscape, Photo by Jan Arendtsz

There isn’t an actual trail here but to hike to the top of the highest dune is 1 mile each way. These sand dunes are what one pictures when thinking of a ‘desert’ and can be a fun area to explore! The trailhead is at Stovepipe Wells Village off of CA-190.

  • 2.0 miles out and back
  • 200′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Dante’s Ridge Trail 
Dante's View
Dante’s View, Photo by Nicolas Lh.

Dante’s View is the most beautiful viewpoint in the entire park. From the parking lot, hikers can walk a 1/2 mile to the viewpoint then follow the trail north which extends another 3.5 miles all the way to Mt. Perry if you wish to go that far. The trailhead begins at the parking area at the end of the 13 mile Dante’s View Road.

  • 1.6 miles out and back
  • 250′ elevation gain
  • Easy
Badwater Salt Flats
Badwater Basin Patterns
Badwater Basin Patterns, Photo by Torsten Reimer

The lowest place in North America is this beautiful salt flat. There is no trail so you can walk as far out in the flats as you wish…it is 5 miles across the entire basin. The crowds are heavier the closer you are to the boardwalk but venturing out further, you will see the salt crystals that haven’t yet been flattened. The trailhead is on Badwater Road 17 miles south of Furnace Creek.

  • 1.0 mile out and back
  • No elevation gain
  • Easy
Darwin Falls Trail  
36 Death Valley 2017
Darwin Falls, Photo by Chetan Kolluri

Short hike to this out of place but striking year-round waterfall. The falls are by no means massive but the oasis and its vegetation make for a great change of scenery within the park. The trailhead is off of the unpaved Darwin Falls Road from CA-190.

  • 2.0 miles out and back
  • 450′ elevation gain
  • Easy

Featured Image: Drag Race, Photo by John Fowler

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