Manny and I did Pahrump Point a few weeks back, and I’ve wanted to come back to Death Valley with Becky ever since. In the winter months, there is so much to see. You can’t compare this place to the Sierras. Death Valley has a stark haunting beauty all its own. I ran across some trails starting at Zabriskie Point near Furnace Creek, and we put a spur-of-the-moment overnight trip on the calendar for the weekend.
We both had a busy week, and neither of us planned or packed in advance. On Saturday morning, I got up at my usual 6:00 AM and put the rooftop tent on the car. By 8:30 AM, we were packed and on our way. By late afternoon, we arrived at Furnace Creek and did a short 4-mile up-and-back hike in Desolation Canyon, about a mile from our campground. It’s an easy hike that leads up a slot canyon to a scenic overlook. It had been a while since I had taken Bec on a hike, and this was a great warmup.
We had dinner at the resort in Furnace Creek and camped at the campground a half mile away. I didn’t realize that I should have made reservations. Fortunately, they had a sport for us. I brought a lot of firewood, and we had a nice long fire under a clear night and a billion stars overhead.
Day Hiking Zabriskie Point,
Manly Beacon, and Red Cathedral
In the morning, we had snacks and coffee for breakfast, then drove to the Zabriskie Point Trailhead, a few miles away. This trailhead is the starting point for a network of trails that link Zabriskie Point, Manly Beacon, Red Cathedral, and Golden Canyon. There are a lot of choices. There is a trail that summits Manly Beacon and Red Cathedral, but we decided to take a trail that led down into the canyon – which was perfect. The 6-mile out-and-back trail we picked takes about 3 hours at a slow pace – winding through some of the most interesting terrain Death Valley has to offer.
Most of Death Valley is vast. Normally, you need to drive endless miles across the open desert to appreciate it. But here, in this small area, there is a tapestry of tightly pack geological oddities that are extraordinary. It was hard to put my camera down. My only regret is that we came in the morning, which was not the best time to take photos. In the golden hour before sunset, this place is beyond description. That said, it’s hard to take a bad photo here. The photos I took on my less-than-capable camera are a testament to this. Take a look…
In the winter, this is the perfect trip for folks who want to see the beauty of Death Valley in a short period of time. This area has all the beauty and interest you are looking for, without a lot of difficulties or remote hiking. It’s also the perfect hike for families with small kids. And don’t forget to stop at the Alien Jerky Store in Baker for a good laugh. We got some great stocking stuffers for the kids here.