Death Valley is one of the most surprising national parks we have visited. It has stunning mountain ranges, the lowest point in North America, and tons of fun hikes to explore.
When we visited, more than half of the park was closed off due to a major flood. Luckily, we were still able to visit most of the hikes and areas we had planned to. Because a lot of the park was closed we would happily return to see more once it reopens.
We recommend visiting Death Valley in the Fall or Winter. Spring is the most popular time, meaning it is the most crowded. However, if you don’t mind more people, Spring is beautiful because of the wildflowers and warmer temperatures. The only time we would warn against visiting is summer. Death Valley can be dangerous at this time due to high temps, exposure to the sun, and lack of water along trails.
Here are our top 4 amazing hikes to experience in Death Valley.
Best Hikes in Death Valley
Of everywhere we’ve hiked across the US, Death Valley was near the top of our list! The views along the trails are all unique and it feels like you are entering a different national park with each hike. We’ve never been to a park so diverse and so beautiful.
Our favorites were Red Cathedral, Artist’s Palette, Devil’s Golf Course, and Badwater Basin.
1. Red Cathedral
This is a moderately challenging hike about 3 miles out and back with beautiful views at the top. Start at the Golden Canyon trailhead and continue straight on Red Cathedral instead of turning to follow the Golden Canyon loop.
2. Artist’s Palette
If you are looking for a short and easy hike that will leave you in awe, you need to visit Artist’s Palette along Artist’s Drive Scenic Loop.
When you arrive at the parking lot, you can see some colors peaking over the hills. However, it is nothing compared to the views you see as you continue on the trail.
Volcanic deposits, rich in iron oxides and chlorite, cause the rainbow of colors among the rocks. At Artist’s Palette you can see blue, purple, green, pink, yellow and red along the path.
3. Devil’s Golf Course
Devil’s Golf Course isn’t really a hike and it’s definitely not a golf course. It is a stop along the drive to Badwater Basin where you can get out and wander through all the salt spires.
Be careful when you walk through the course. The salt crystals are sharp and jagged so you want to ensure you walk around them without touching if possible.
Supposedly, if you are quiet enough, you can hear the salt popping as the crystals burst in the heat.
4. Badwater Basin
Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America and is a huge expanse of salt flats. It used to be a lake that has now evaporated and left behind concentrated salt deposits.
To get to the best part of the salt flats, you will need to walk about 1 mile out along the salt flat trail. As you walk out you can look back at the mountains and see the sign that shows where sea level is.
PRO TIP: Your bottom of your shoes will get coated in salt so bring a bag to put them in when you get back to your car.