Agenda Discovery Week Month

Curated for Me

Death Valley Exploratory - Golden Canyon/Zabriskie Point - Tecopa Hot Springs

Vegas Hiking Funventures
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Endorsed by Curators:
Apr 14 8:00AM - 11:00PM


The itinerary for today is one of my favorites and I do this several times in cooler weather seasons. This trip will be exploratory beginning at Dante's View, then Golden Canyon, Red Cathedral, Zabriskie Point, Gower Gulch, Badwater Salt Flat, Devil's Golf Course. There may be some very minor optional exposure and scrambling. From Death Valley we will proceed to enjoy dinner in Shoshone then relax at Delights Mineral Hot Springs in Tecopa, then return home.

This is my planned itinerary with some exploratory. If you wish, you may alter this itinerary to suit you, but be certain to plan ahead with your car pool or drive alone.

Distance: 6-8 miles (loop)
Elevation change:[masked] feet
Hiking time: Approx. 4-6 hours

The Hike

Golden Canyon Gower Gulch Loop visits some of the most stunning landscapes in Death Valley National Park. The 4-mile hike begins with a one-mile trek up Golden Canyon. Numbered markers along the way make the canyon easy to follow. These markers correspond with an interpretive trail guide that tells the geological history of the land. The guide is available for purchase at the trailhead and visitor centers, but no guide is required to realize the beauty of Golden Canyon.

The sides of the canyon are made up of red mudstone and colorful mosaic conglomerates. Occasional broken pavement offers a reminder that a road once went through this canyon until a rainstorm took it out in 1976. Follow the main wash uphill toward the prominent landmark aptly named the Red Cathedral.

Several small canyons break off from the main channel, begging to be explored. Answering that call is the hikers prerogative.

One mile into the hike, near marker #10, the loop leaves Golden Canyon. Follow the brown arrow pointing to the right and hike out of the canyon on a footpath that passes just beneath a prominence named Manly Beacon. As a side trek, hikers may continue mile up Golden Canyon to the base of Red Cathedral.

The single-track beneath Manly Beacon provides some of the finest views of the loop. At the high point of the divide, hikers can enjoy a mesmerizing panorama across the badlands.

Beyond Manly Beacon, the trail descends mudstone slopes into Gower Gulch. The path breaks up a bit, allowing hiker to plot their own course down to the wash. The badlands region is quite interesting to explore, and getting lost is difficult as all ways downhill lead to Gower Gulch.

A variation on this loop is to turn up Gower Gulch and follow the Badlands Trail to Zabriskie Point, a scenic overlook along Highway 190. This can be used as an extraction point for those with a vehicle at that trailhead, or as an extension of the Golden Canyon Gower Gulch loop to see more of this impressive environment.

Gower Gulch has no interpretive markers and less of a trail. Simply follow the wash as it winds downhill and out of the mountains. The gulch passes several Borax miles. Borax, called white gold by miners, was extracted extensively in this region in the 1880s and many mines shafts remain. They are unstable and not for exploration.

The bottom of Gower Gulch is home to a tall dry falls. To avoid this drop, follow the trail to the right. This route exits the canyon and turns right, crossing the open desert to the trailhead parking lot at the bottom of Golden Canyon.

The Golden Canyon Gower Gulch Loop is one of the more popular hikes in Death Valley National Park and is a true delight. Morning is the best time to hike the loop, when temperatures are cooler and the sunlight highlights the colorful landscape. Review this NPS trail description and map before beginning the hike.

Hot Tubbing at Tecopa Mineral Hot Springs

Hidden in the seldom-explored reaches of the Mojave Desert lies a desert oasis world renowned for its peaceful atmosphere and therapeutic natural artesian hot spring mineral water. The Tecopa California hot springs are widely considered to be one of the highest quality hot springs in the United States, with a reputation built from word of mouth testaments echoed from travelers for well over a century. We will soak and relax ($20) after dinner. Those who wish can return and soak until the late evening (midnight) after dinner at no additional cost.

Meeting Place

We will meet and arrange car pooling in the parking lot. Look for my yellow Mercedes Benz. We will arrange rides in a carpool and once everyone is present and accounted for we leave at 8:15 AM. If you need to return earlier than midnight, then please drive or get in an early returning carpool.

Car Pools

We will arrange car pooling at the meeting place. Please reimburse your driver $20 for gas, mileage, wear and tear, etc. If you need to return early, then you may want to drive or be certain you are in a car pool that returns earlier than our published preferred schedule.

What to Bring

$20 for your carpool driver, water, sunglasses, hiking shoes/boots, wool socks to avoid blisters, lunch, $20 plus swim suit plus large towel and/or bath robe for hot tubbing (gloves and hiking poles optional), sweater/jacket for cooler evening weather, money for dinner.


The fees at Delights Hot Springs resort is $20 per person. Delights closes to day guests at 11pm (but you'll most likely be able to stay longer, depending on which employees are around). Delights is open 24 hours to people staying in their RV park, motel, or cabins.

There is no fee at either of the natural hot springs and they're available to everyone 24/7. The natural hot springs also has therapeutic betonite clay mud in sections of the spring which is great to rub on your body, but if you're the type that only swims in pools and hates to swim in lakes or rivers the natural hot springs are not the best place to visit.


Return time is flexible based on your driver and car pool preferences, but expect to return around 11 or later depending on how much fun we're having.


We will maintain a moderate pace. This is all about feeling good, fun and enjoying each other's company. We will allow enough time for potty breaks, photos, rest stops, snacks, lunch, and to enjoy the scenery along the way. We suggest you bring 1 liter of water for every 2 hours of hiking in summer weather, and half that in winter weather. Please read the entire description before you RSVP.


Other than the standard warnings about hiking in the desert, ...this is a pretty safe hike. The trail is strenuous, so take it easy at this elevation if you've just come up from the desert. There are places along the trail where a slip would prove fatal, but nothing out of the ordinary; watch your footing near edges. This trail is a bit long and hard for young kids. During summer, watch for thunderstorms.


Please be aware that your Meetup organizers are not tour guides and are not park rangers. Expect the same risks and take the same precautions you would take if you were hiking alone. You are solely responsible for your own safety and well-being. By signing up for and/or attending this Meetup event, you acknowledge, understand, accept, and agree that hiking and other outdoor activities can be dangerous and can cause serious bodily injury and possibly death.

The organizers of this group and current and former members cannot be held responsible or liable in any way for the actions of any participant - including you - at any event. All attendees participate at an event at their own risk and are solely responsible for any damage to their property, and/or any injury to themselves or their guests. By signing up for this event, you affirm that you understand this disclaimer, and that you knowingly and voluntarily agree not to bring any type of claim arising out of or related to this Meetup event against the organizers of this Meetup group.

Denis Murdock

How to find us:We will meet in the parking lot directly in front of McDonalds facing Blue Diamond. Look for my yellow Mercedes Benz.

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