Zabriskie Point Hiking Guide – Death Valley National Park
When one searches the internet for “must things to do in Death Valley National Park,” Zabriskie Point most likely appears on that list. As one of the first major stopping points from the south entrance to the park, this short out and back trail lures a significant amount of traffic. A couple of other draws to Zabriskie Point is its ease of access, paved trail, and crowd-pleasing views.
Zabriskie Point is named in honor of Christian B. Zabriskie who was a prominent figure in the area during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. Zabriskie resided in the area and was a corporate figure for the Pacific Borax Company (1). Borax is also known as sodium borate and is more commonly known as a safe and natural cleaner. Although not as common as it once was, borax was frequently used as a laundry detergent. The mineral was a key aspect in the modern development of Death Valley National Park. Borax is only located in the country of Turkey and the California desert (2).
The short out and back trail to Zabriskie Point is probably one of the easiest ways to observe some of the most vibrant colors that Death Valley Has to offer. Looking directly west will be views of the lowest point on earth – the famous Badwater Basin. Towering high above the basin will be the Panamint Mountain Range with the popular Telescope Peak at 11,503 feet. Sitting directly below Zabriskie Point will be the Golden Canyon and Black Mountains with the colorful remnants of ash volcanic eruptions. Directly to the east will be the prominent Schwab Peak along the reddish orange Funeral Mountains.
On A Personal Note
I’m a forest and mountain kind of person. When I first got to Death Valley National Park, I wasn’t quite sure of what my expectations would be given its lack of trees. Zabriskie Point changed my expectations very quickly. I visited Zabriskie Point in the late afternoon towards the beginning of golden hour and also during the sunrise. I highly recommend those visiting Death Valley to experience Zabriskie Point during both times of day. The angle of the sun during the different hours brings out all sorts of different shadows and hues of colors. Examples of both times of day can be found in the photos tab.
Have you been on this trail recently? Leave a comment in the section below.
1. N.a. Christian B. Zabriskie. Death Valley National Park. National Park Service. https://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/historyculture/christian-brevoort-zabriskie.htm. 1 October 2021. Accessed 10 December 2021.
2. N.a. “What The Heck Is Borax? All-Natural Cleaning Agent Tied To Luxury Resort In California Desert. Oasis At Death Valley. https://www.oasisatdeathvalley.com/pressrelease/what-the-heck-is-borax-all-natural-cleaning-agent-tied-to-luxury-resort-in-california-desert/. Accessed 10 December 2021.
- Overall Difficulty: 15% 15%
- Overall Views: 95% 95%
Zabriskie Point Trail Quick Facts:
- Max Elevation: 705 feet.
- Elevation Gain: 49 feet.
- Estimated Distance: 0.4 miles.
- My Actual Distance: 0.5 miles.
- Estimated Time: 15-45 minutes.
- My Time: 16 minutes moving; 24 minutes total.
Zabriskie Point Trail Directions:
Open in maps. Zabriskie Point is located along CA-190 highway inside of Death Valley National Park. There is a medium sized parking lot here. The trail is short so even if it’s crowded there should be quick turnover in the stalls. Cell phone service is poor within the park so it’s likely you’ll have to use a park map. Cost is the price of admission to the park. An America The Beautiful Pass will also work.
Zabriskie Point Trail Pictures:
Who Zabriskie Point Trail Is For:
Advanced Hikers: This is a great viewpoint and a short trail to pair with several other short hikes nearby.
Expert Hikers: Although this is short, don’t discount the colors that can be seen here. Then enjoy some of the longer trails that can be seen here.
It’s always a good idea to be aware of what type of hiking level you’re at.
Best Time Of Year To Hike Zabriskie Point Trail:
One of the best things about visiting during the winter is seeing the view of Telescope Peak and the Panamint Range. These mountains are tall enough to catch residual weather systems coming off the Sierra Nevada. During the winter months the Panamint Range is often capped in snow and provides a nice contrast to the desert landscape. Once a decade or so enough rainfall will make its way into the valley to cause a rare superbloom with vibrant flowers.
Summer can bring about other problems besides just heat. The summer months is the monsoon season for the southwest desert. This season brings about the chance for lightning and thunderstorms. Avoid being out in the open during a thunderstorm to prevent being hit by lightning.
It’s always a good idea to check the weather before heading out on a hike.
Zabriskie Point Trail Conditions:
This trail is in great condition and maintained by the National Park Service. The trail is a paved path that leads to a viewpoint that looks down across the Badwater Basin and the Panamint Range. The odds are quite low but it can’t be excluded, keep an eye out for rattlesnakes.