Desolation Canyon Trail

MODERATE 5 reviews
#13 of 42 trails in

Desolation Canyon Trail is a 4.2 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Shoshone, CA that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from November until April. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.2 miles 862 feet Out & Back

dogs on leash



nature trips



wild flowers


Directions from Highway 190: From Highway 190, travel 3.7 miles south on Badwater Road. Turn on to Desolation Canyon Road (not marked, look closely for it) and follow the road to the end of the left fork.

5 days ago

This is a hidden gem in the park. Very nice trail, moderate difficulty.
The visitor center actually has map for this trail, and you can actually download from NPS website.
2.5 hours is enough for out and back.

The trail it self, beautiful. The view at the end on the ridge is breathtaking. You can see the winding canyon you just climbed in colors, and you have view towards artist's drive, further down is the death valley salt flats.

3 months ago

Nice place if you like desert badlands. Danged hot in the summer

1 year ago

Simply beautiful trail. We tend to hike early in the morning so the colors weren't as vibrant as they would be in late afternoon but we were not disappointed! Steady, uphill climb. At one point in the narrows you can touch both walls with outstretched arms. Two sections of the trail require you to scramble but easy and doable. After climbing up to the top and walking around we came down trail and explored a couple of side canyons. Worth it!! Found a sunny alcove and had lunch. Only saw 3 other folks as we were leaving...another reason why we tend to hike early in the morning. One of our favorite trails in Death Valley.

2 years ago

Favorite campground in the park: Wildrose, on the W side of the park up in the foothills. Wasn't even half full when I was there in the Fall, whereas the major campgrounds were filled to capacity.

2 years ago

This is a nice trail. I found it not-so desolate....and actually very pretty in parts.

There were about 5 others on the trail. The trail is just south of the very crowded Golden Canyon. Driving down Badwater Road from there, hang a left at Desolation Canyon Road. It's between the 3and 4 mile markers.

I started around 2pm. Walk up into the canyon via the wash. Keep to the right at all forks, for the most part. There are a handful of cairns and cairn arrows to guide you.

The trail is moderate ....a steady climb. There are two spots where you need to climb vertically a bit, but only four or five feet. You'll need to pull your weight up. Those are the hardest parts. There are beautiful canyon walls, much like the Artists Palette....pastel greens and pinks. Do the trail in the later afternoon and you'll stay cool and out of the sun while in the canyon.

The last several 100 yards are a bit steep but not bad. Once at the top you have some pretty views, but nothing like what's below.

Most folks return the same way they arrive. That's about 3miles total.

I continued forward and followed the natural wash down. This eventually hits the Artists Drive after the Palette. The road is one way. If going with traffic, follow the road until you get to Badwater Road and then take a right until you get to Desolation Canyon Road. Use caution, obviously.

I got to my car around 4:30pm. Im in good shape and go about 2mi/hr so this was a good moderate hike for me. As with any hike in DVNP, and in general, bring plenty of water.