Photo credit J Whiting, All Rights Reserved
Photo credit J Whiting, All Rights Rserved
Photo credit David Whiting, All Rights Reserved
S hort, paved path up to a spectacular viewpoint of Manly Beacon and Badwater Flats. The overlook is a favorite for sunrise and sunset photography.
|Total Distance: 0.3 miles out & back||Elevation Gain: 106ft. (650ft. to 699ft.)|
|Difficulty: Easy||5+ Mile Difficulty: Easy|
|View Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars||Author’s Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0 stars|
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|Pets: No||Horses: No|
|Best Seasons: September-June||Special Permits: None|
|Water Availability: None||Overnight Options: None|
|Trailhead Amenities: Primitive Restroom||Crowd Factor: Overcrowded|
|Trailhead Access: 0.6|
Mile-by-Mile: Zabriskie Point Overlook
0.0 Zabriskie Point Trailhead (650ft.). Follow the paved path up the hill. (36.420784°, -116.810197°)
0.15 Zabriskie Point Overlook (793ft.). Enjoy spectacular views of Manly Beacon, surrounding canyons and badlands, the Badwater Salt Flats, and the Panamint Mountains. (36.419999°, -116.812312°)
History & More
Zabriskie Point was named for Christian Zabriskie, the vice president and the general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company. Young Zabriskie was born in Wyoming Territory (his father was stationed there), but he was a restless soul who worked many jobs just to keep himself occupied. He even began a mortuary with a cabinet maker as a partner. Neither knew the first thing about embalming, but most mining towns didn’t care as long as the burial was prompt. In 1885, he was hired to supervise the work in a borax marsh. He worked his way up the ladder of the Pacific Coast Borax Company and served as its vice president for thirty-six years.
Manly Beacon is named for William Manly. At the age of 29, Manly moved from his native state of Vermont to fill his thirst for gold fever as one of the ‘49ers. He tried to float the Green River to the Colorado River, but eventually native guides took him and the others with him overland. He then set out with other families and ‘49ers to cross Death Valley. The group became stranded, so Manly and another traveler, John Haney Rogers (of Roger’s Peak), walked 250 miles across the Mojave Desert almost to Los Angeles to find a route out. The two were able to buy supplies and return to lead the party to safety.
Download Trail Map
From Furnace Creek, take CA-190 East 4.8 miles to the Zabriskie Point Parking Area, on the right 3.5 miles east of Badwater Junction.
From Death Valley Junction, take CA-190 West 25.4 miles to the Zabriskie Point Parking Area, on the left.
Leave No Trace Principles are enforced
Drones and model aircrafts are prohibited
Camping is permitted only in designated sites or in areas open to dispersed backcountry camping
Click here for all park rules and regulations
12 Month Pass: $55/Death Valley Annual Pass (valid at Death Valley National Park). $80/America the Beautiful Annual Pass (valid at all national park and federal fee areas). $20/Annual Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/4th Grade Pass (Valid Sept. 1-August 31 of the child’s 4th Grade school year). Free/Military Pass (valid for all active military personel and their dependents with a CAC Card or DD Form 1173).
Lifetime Pass: $80/Lifetime Senior Pass (62 years or older US citizens; valid at all national park and federal fee areas). Free/Access Pass (available to all US citizens with perminent disabilities). Free/Access for Veterans and Gold Star Families Pass (valid for all military and veterans with a CAC card, Veteran HJealth Identification Card, Veteran ID Card, or veteran’s designation on state-issued drivers license or identification card.)
Zabriskie Point Overlook Trail
I’ve been to Zabriskie Point more times than I can count. The overlook is so convenient while entering or exiting the park and/or coming or going to free-range camp on the Echo Canyon or Hole in the Wall Roads. So I’ve most often seen the view at sunrise or sunset.
Golden hour is the best time to visit Zabriskie Point, especially sunrise, when the sun is on the badlands and not behind the Panamint Mountains (though there are plenty of amazing photos from sunset, as well). At sunrise, you’re sure to share the viewpoint with a few photographers with their tripods – but I’ll take that over the crowds of sightseers later in the day.
The reason the photographers all come at golden hour is because the badlands appear to be the most colorful under the early morning or just-before-sunset light. As the sun rises higher, the strength of the rays bleaches the colors to a monolithic yellow-brown. Of course, said photographers then oversaturate their pictures to make the badlands even more colorful. But Manly Beacon is worth seeing any time of day as it pokes its head into the sky.
The paved trail begins as the most obvious trailhead near the parking area. It curves upward to a viewpoint ringed with a stone wall. Read the signs, pose for a picture, or just take in the view – it’s all good!
One thing to note – the monolith rising out of the badlands is called Manly Beacon. Zabriskie Point is what you’re standing on top of. Zabriskie Point was named for Christian Brevoort Zabriskie (1864-1936), the vice president and general manager of the Pacific Coast Borax Company. Manly Beacon was named to honor William L. Manly, one of the intrepid guides who led some of the ill-fated ‘49ers out of Death Valley when it was given its name.
Perhaps my favorite memory of visiting Zabriskie Point was one morning at sunrise. We pulled in as golden hour was still very real and, while some of the younger ones fixed themselves breakfast, tail-gate style, others of us ran up to the viewpoint to take some photos. Photography became posing for photos, and we all sat on the stone wall, crossing our legs in exactly the same position, to try and emulate a favorite album cover. I don’t remember the people on the cover crossing one knee over the other, but hey, let’s take some artistic license, right?