Zabriskie Point is hands down the best view in Death Valley National Park in my opinion. I actually skipped it the first time I visited and seriously regretted it. I mean, enough to plan a trip back to see it! Zabriskie Point is more than just a view point, there is actually a whole system of trails with incredible views that a lot of people don’t seem to take advantage of! You’ll see the 0.4 mile, 50 ft gain viewpoint packed to the brim with people. But I much preferred the quiet, more unique views of this stunning place by exploring the trails below. So, here’s my guide to visiting the best view in Death Valley.
Land Acknowledgement: Northern Paiute and Newe Land. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting!
- What is Zabriskie Point?
- Where is Zabriskie Point Death Valley Hike?
- Hiking at Zabriskie Point Death Valley Trails
- Parking and Other Things to Know
- When is the Best Time to Visit Zabriskie Point?
- Safety and Leave No Trace (LNT)
- Photo Tips for Zabriskie Point
- Where to Stay near Zabriskie Point?
- Tecopa Hot Springs near Death Valley
- More Death Valley Guides and Nearby Road Trips:
- Road Trip Favorites:
- Conclusion: Zabriskie Point Death Valley
What is Zabriskie Point?
Zabriskie Point Death Valley scenic view is unique for a lot of reasons. It is known for being the Badlands of Death Valley, formed by wind and water over time to create beautiful layers and stripes of different colors. From rock and minerals and even lava.
The highest point that is most recognizable is known as Manly Beacon and sits at 823 ft.
Fame and History Behind the Name:
Zabriskie Point in Death Valley is a famous photo and hiking spot is featured in some movies – adding to the draw. Star Wars (A New Hope), and Easy Rider being a couple.
The name ‘Zabriskie’ is after Christian Brevoort Zabriskie, the vice president and general manager of Pacific Coast Borax Company. Borax is a salt that is plentiful in the Death Valley area and is usually seen in laundry and cleaning products.
Where is Zabriskie Point Death Valley Hike?
Where is the Zabriskie Point location? This famous Death Valley hike is located on the East side of Death Valley National Park. And it is part of the Amargosa Range. It is also conveniently 5 miles away from Furnace Creek Visitor Center.
- 2 hours from Las Vegas
- 5 hours from Los Angeles
Death Valley is pretty spread out. Zabriskie Point is about a 30 minute drive from the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and 20 minutes from Artists Palette. If you have cell service, google maps will take you right there. Although I highly recommend downloading offline maps, because cell service is spotty here!
Hiking at Zabriskie Point Death Valley Trails
A lot of people drive up park and only do the Zabriskie point viewpoint, which is great if you’re short on time. But I think Zabriskie Point is the main attraction, and you will not regret budgeting extra time for the trails from that same parking lot.
Zabriskie Point Viewpoint:
- 0.4 miles, considered easy
- 49 feet elevation gain
- Paved Trail, Wheelchair accessible
This hike is easy and offers incredible views. Just note, it will be crowded and if you go for sunset or sunrise, there will be tons of photographers with tripods set up.
- 0.8 miles, considered moderate
- 118 ft elevation gain
- Rocky in some areas
- Star wars filmed here!!
I loved this area! We had no idea where this trail led and kind of did it to avoid crowds. And the color really is golden here.
Red Cathedral Trail
- 0.6 miles from the end of Golden Canyon trail. Done together the trail is 3 miles round trip
- 574 ft elevation gain
- Small slot canyon and sweeping views
Gower Gulch or Badlands Loop Trail
- 4.2 miles round trip, considered moderate
- 715 ft elevation gain
- Loop Trail
This trail combines all the above trails if you want to knock them all out!
Parking and Other Things to Know
The parking lot here is a decent size, but be warned it is one of the most popular views in the National Park. I’d recommend getting there an hour before sunset at the minimum. Sunrise is usually also VERY busy.
- Vault toilets are available at the parking lot
- No pets or bikes allowed
PARKING PASS & FEES
The National Park pass – America the Beautiful is required to spend time in Death Valley! Purchase online HERE.
When is the Best Time to Visit Zabriskie Point?
If you didn’t know, Death Valley holds the highest heat record in the WORLD. At 134°F, this national park is one you definitely need to prepare for.
The IDEAL time to visit Death Valley is between October-May.
I have visited in both December and February/March and both times the weather was lovely. Chilly in the mornings and nights, but warm and sunny during the day. But also be prepared for extreme wind and sand storms!
Weather in Death Valley
- October 93°F/ 62°
- November 77°F/ 48°
- December 64°F / 48°
- January 65°F / 49°
- February 66°F / 50°
- March 82°F/ 55°
- April 90°F/ 62°
We experienced great weather in December. In March it was a lot warmer but we also had frequent wind and sand storms! This probably was just by chance and did not last long.
Avoiding Tourists in Death Valley
The busiest months for Death Valley are March and April. If you are able to go in the winter, it may be a bit colder, but there will be a lot less people. In December, we had many of the views with only a few other people, and at sunrise – we were the only ones.
Safety and Leave No Trace (LNT)
Since Death Valley is known for its extreme weather, it is important to be prepared.
Recommended Packing List:
- Sun protection (UV Protecting clothing, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses) – many areas have NO shade
- Downloaded offline maps of roads, destinations and hiking trails. There is very little cell service
- Footwear with good traction. There are trail sections of lose rock and sand.
- Headlamp if you’re hiking back after sunset
Leave No Trace!
I think it is so important to brush up on these principles!
- Pack out ALL your trash, and this includes fruit peels, apple cores, and shells from nuts!
- Stay on the trail. Help prevent erosion and minimize human impact
- If you are camping, check in with the rangers at the visitor center for fire laws and restrictions
Photo Tips for Zabriskie Point
- The light can be so harsh here during the day. I recommend going for sunset or sunrise. We went just before sunset and had softer light.
- Get there early! The parking lot fills up quick!
- Bring a longer lens to add compression to the photo. I used a 24-70mm lens. Using the 50-70 length allowed me to make the hills and mountains appear much larger, giving it a more dramatic effect.
- If you can only shoot during the day, bring a ND (Neutral Density) Filter to protect the highlights from being blown out! And make sure to white balance after putting the filter on.
Where to Stay near Zabriskie Point?
CAMPING OPTIONS NEAR AND IN DEATH VALLEY:
If you’re new to Desert Camping – check out my complete guide:
- Death Valley National Park – Lee Flat
- Open all year round
- Free, dispersed camping
- First come, first serve
- Restrooms available
- Death Valley National Park – Emigrant Campground
- Open all year
- 10 sites
- water is available
- toilets are available
- Death Valley National Park – Stove Pipe Wells
- Mid September – Mid May
- $12 a night
- Water and Toilets available
A hotel and Visitor Center exist in Furnace Creek in the center of all the action. Nearby is Armagosa Hotel in Death Valley Junction. Airbnb has some options on the outskirts of the park that will require a drive in. I found a couple of charming ones:
- Desert Airstream Delight
- $95 / night
- Darwin, CA
- Vineyard Bottling Room outside of Death Valley NP
- $217 / night
- Amargosa Valley, Nevada
Tecopa Hot Springs near Death Valley
If you love hot springs, you have to check out or stay the night at this eccentric place. Definitely the most fun and unique hot spring experience I’ve had with friends!
More Death Valley Guides and Nearby Road Trips:
I have lots of other guides on here for other destinations within Death Valley National Park and nearby!
Road Trip Favorites:
Conclusion: Zabriskie Point Death Valley
As you can see, Zabriskie Point in Death Valley is an iconic view with a lot of interesting history that is definitely worth checking out. Explore the many trails that circle the area to avoid crowds and get unique photos! With lots of free camping nearby, and ideal weather October-May, I highly recommend planning your next trip to spend time here!
Leave a comment below! Is this on your bucketlist?
Share and save for later!