Help keep our trails and parks open during COVID-19 by committing to social distancing. Some trails or park services may be closed this weekend so check with local authorities before heading out.
Learn more

Desolation Canyon Trail is a 3.6 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Death Valley, California that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and bird watching and is best used from November until April.

Length 3.6 mi Elevation gain 770 ft Route type Out & Back

Hiking

Nature trips

Walking

Bird watching

Views

Wild flowers

Wildlife

No dogs

Description
Waypoints (0)
Contact
Getting There

California Travel and Tourism Commision, P.O. Box 1499 , Sacramento, CA, 95812-1499, Phone: 800-862-2543

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.

Weather
UV Index
Daylight
Reviews (137)
Photos (86)
Recordings (114)
Completed (244)
Jim Saraceno
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Mar 15 2020
Hiking

Awesome trail and less traveled than the Golden Canyon down the road. It's actually 4 miles round trip if you hike all the way up to the prominence which is totally worth it for the spectacular view. About half way is an 8 foot dry fall that you need to climb. Not easy but doable by most experienced hikers. I got my 70 year old legs up there and my wife too though she was pretty scared going up and even more so coming down. After that there are several rises but with plenty of foot and hand holds so if you can do the 8 footer you can do the rest.

Barbara H.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Mar 02 2020
Hiking

I didn’t have enough time to do the whole trail. The way in was interesting from a geology point of view, Way back out more interesting from a photography point of view. Not at all crowded.

Becca Saunders
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Feb 23 2020

Amazing hike! This one avoids all the crowds of Golden Canyon, but you still get to hike through a colorful canyon and get an incredible view at the end! A couple of scramble spots, nothing too strenuous

View Becca's Recording
Simon Guérard
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Jan 27 2020
Hiking

The trail itself is alright - nothing breathtaking but goes closes to artist drive. There is an additional hill you can do at the end - nice view, but fairly steep.

Brian Knapp
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Jan 10 2020
Hiking

Great hike, amazing views at the top. 1 approximately 8 foot wall to climb and 2 other smaller obstacles to climb. My 6 year old and 4 year old managed it with some assistance, but they are experienced hikers.

View Brian's Recording
Serena Walters
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSat Jan 04 2020
Hiking

Easy hike with a couple of 3-5 ft ledges to climb.. beautiful canyon and light traffic.

Emily M
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Dec 29 2019
Hiking

Favorite hike after a week in Death Valley. Hiked with baby in a backpack and fit grandparents. Two walls required scrambling but manageable with teamwork. Great views up top. Very few people on the trail. Definitely recommend.

Kenny Berman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Dec 27 2019
HikingScramble

Awesome views from the top! Took us an hour, forty-five minutes. So glad we ended our DVNP trip with this one!

View Kenny's Recording
Mitchell R.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon Dec 23 2019
HikingScramble

Amazing views, pretty chill hike and super worth it! Not much traffic at all!

Matthew Hodson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Dec 14 2019
Hiking

Nice hike with great views at the top.

View Matthew's Recording
Michael Goodman
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Dec 08 2019
Hiking

Agree with the other reviews, amazing view when you get to the top.

View Michael's Recording
Trees and Travels
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Nov 23 2019
Hiking

Fun hike. There are a few little rock walls to climb up/down but nothing too difficult. Trail gets steeper near the end, but the views are worth it.

View Trees and's Recording
Craig Chisolm
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Nov 17 2019
Hiking

This trail has lots of side-trails that lead to dead ends. Luckily, they are marked by a barricade of rocks which clearly indicate that “the trail does not continue in this direction.” But, if you’ve got the time, you could add miles to your hike with some scenic meandering!

View Craig's Recording
Shemmy Mishaan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Nov 14 2019
Hiking

A very enjoyable canyon hike to a destination with a fantastic view. We chose to walk over the fins rather than straight down the wash on our way into the canyon. Fairly easy ups and downs with a decently trod path, and more interesting. As you proceed through the canyon, there are three walls to scramble over. The first is the most challenging, about 8 feet, but is very doable. The next two are straightforward. There are some well-placed cairns along the way to help stay on track, but it's not a difficult trail to follow. Ultimately you reach a gravelly grade up to a plateau that has really spectacular views in all directions. It's a bit of a trudge up, but very worthwhile. All along the trail there are close up views of the different colored rocks that make up the Artist's Palette. Down the walls is easier. We saw one other group of people over the whole 2 hours, so the trail well lived up to its name. Our favorite hike in the park.

Lucas Gonzaga
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Oct 24 2019
Hiking

Authentic canyon not very crowded. The view is very nice from the end. Go slow on the non paved road if you have a sedan. The 2 climbs are ok to do without a rope, as long as you are not crippled.

Brent Dudgeon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarFri Jun 14 2019
Hiking

An OK hike if you're in Death Valley.

Stuart Balaban
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarMon May 27 2019
HikingRockyScramble
View Stuart's Recording
Luke Costello
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarWed May 15 2019
Hiking

Nicer going down than it is going up. On way down you get great views of Death Valley. There are about 3 little rocky inclines that you have to climb up / down. There is very limited shade but if it is windy the wind does subside once you are in the canyon.

View Luke's Recording
Xander Dale
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Mar 28 2019
HikingScramble

Little climb at the end was amazing! Definitely do yourself a favor and do some extra work, great views of artist's pallette! Trail was easy to miss, keep your eyes peeled. Saw only two people while hiking, definitely desolate. Surprised this hike isn't more popular!

View Xander's Recording
Sarah Taylor
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarMon Mar 25 2019

The Canyon did offer some shade during our trip in March. The turnoff was not well marked, so keep your eyes peeled.

Roseann Day
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFri Mar 22 2019
Hiking

Hiked this trail in January and it was beautiful! Starts out winding through canyon and then rises to take in great views of Death Valley. We did the extension of the hike past the formal trail- would exercise caution on this part of the footing is gravelly and slippery. Bring plenty of water- hot and sunny even in winter.

Garrett Weekley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarFri Mar 08 2019
Hiking

Day hiked: (3/8/19) This was an excellent trail. Like everyone has been saying, it is easy to miss the road because it isn't really marked and also, you won't see many people here. Like almost all trails in Death Valley, this one is more of a cross-country hike than an established trail. Do as everyone recommends and hike up the last "steep" little bit to look back at an amazing view of the canyon. Always choose to go right at the forks once you're in the canyon. Unless a flash flood has come through, there should be a line of rocks acting a "don't go here" kind of indicator when you shouldn't go right or left. I started at 7:30am and felt as if I should have gone an hour earlier to see the sun rise on the canyon. I can imagine that it would be impeccable. None the less, the views were amazing. Feel free to explore the hills past the ridge. I did and it felt so freeing. I had to hike past a mud hole which had me covered up to my mid-ankle with pudding like mud. Pretty cool experience honestly! I would have given this 5 stars but I reserve those for the absolute best hikes I've ever done. While this one was fun, it doesn't quite compare to some of the stuff I saw in Glacier National Park.

Michael Herbert
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarThu Feb 28 2019

I have done this hike before but had not gone all the way past the short trail head. My sons and took the extra path up which added a little over a 2 miles to the hike. we reached the top and the views were spectacular. I would recommend this hike. We clearly marked the path for everyone.

Mary Ann Pastene
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSat Feb 23 2019
Hiking

a nice walk. a tiny scramble. great views.

View Mary Ann's Recording
W W.
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarSun Feb 17 2019

The first 2/3 trail was pretty plain, made us starting doubting if it worthy to hike to the end. But the view at the finally ridge was gorgeous; worth the effort. The last 1/4 miles was a sandy pathway on the slope, which could be slippery if I’m not wearing hiking shoes. Snickers could probably make it too. At the top we were facing the Artist Drive, with layers and layers of colored slope, very impressive.

View W's Recording
Kathleen Shanfield
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSun Dec 30 2018

I loved this hike because it was not crowded! We saw maybe 2 people during the very busy week after Christmas. The colors of the rocks change with the sunlight and shadows and I realized that the multi colored rocks are not isolated to the artist palette area! It was very windy at the top which made it challenging, yet all the more surreal. Definitely a hike that can make you feel small in the world!!

Yale Li
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarTue Dec 25 2018
Hiking

I was going to give this a 3-star review as there wasn’t much to see in the 2-mile hike in other than unspectacular canyon walls. The isolation, as mentioned by others, is nice but not a game changer in it of itself. What is a game changer is the view at the end overlooking Artist’s Drive. There’s a hiker-created trail past the official trail that goes another several hundred feet up the mountain. “That” view is spectacular. If you stop at the end of the trail marked on this map, you’ve probably did yourself a disservice.

Christine Chen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarTue Dec 25 2018
Hiking

Was great that we discovered this trail to hike while visiting Death Valley in December. Quite easy to find the turn off using the mile marker and right after the turn onto the dirt road you'll see a sign for it. Very few people. We encountered a total of 7 on the way in and none on the way out until close to the parking lot. Excellent for solitude. Although when we started out we took the park service brochure's description a bit too literally - it said at forks keep to the right but that's after you enter the canyon, not before when you should just stick to the riverbed which is more to the left. Anyway we veered too much to the right and soon were faced with a steep canyon wall - should have realized our mistake right away and backed out but instead, having also read about "dryfalls" (but didn't pay enough attention to how high that's supposed to be) we thought this might be what they meant so proceeded to scale it, especially when it looked like others had also done the same given the occasional foot prints along the way. Anyway, I almost made it over the ridge and it was fun while it lasted. Nice views from the top though! Anyway we eventually got back on track and had to laugh when one mile in we saw what the so called "dryfall" looked like - just a tiny little 8 ft tall wall! Nothing to it really - the whole trail in fact was super easy with barely any elevation gain. And closer to the end the canyon walls did have some pretty nice colors. So in case you sidetrack to the right too soon and end up in the wrong canyon like we did, don't climb that canyon wall - no part of this trail is anywhere near that steep!

Michael Hawley
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarWed Oct 10 2018

Nice in and out hike. We started this hike early and enjoyed the view of the sunrise from the peak at the end of the trail. The hike started off in a wash at the end of a dirt road. Transitioned to a slot canyon and ended with a short steeper uphill gravel stretch. As the name implies we did not run across any other hikers along the way. .

Showing results 1 - 29 of 137