Alex and I visited Death Valley National Park a few weekends ago and despite the rain, we were able to get in a few short hikes as we headed out of the park toward home.
If you are not much of a hiker but want to see some of the natural beauty of the park, the Natural Bridge trail is a great option.
Here’s some information:
- Distance: About a mile to the bridge and another mile back to your car (2 miles round trip / 3.21 kilometers)
- Elevation Gain: About 450 feet in elevation. The sites I’m looking at (here and here) don’t agree so I’ll average it
- Terrain: Gravel. I show a photo of what the trail looks like in my recent review of the new Keen CNX Clearwater Sandals, wear closed toe shoes for this short hike
- Vault toilet at the trailhead, information kiosk available, no water
This hike is south of Furnace Creek and North of Badwater. There is a sign on the side of the road pointing the way up an unpaved road. You’ll gain a lot of elevation as you drive the trailhead, we didn’t realize how much until we were driving back toward the main road.
The ground makes the hike to the bridge feel harder than it is, but don’t worry, the hike back to the car is easier. I saw a woman on the trail wearing platform wedge suede boots…if she can do this hike, so can you (but seriously, be careful).
As you walk through the canyon to the natural bridge, take a look around and see how water has formed this canyon over the years. You will pass some dry waterfall chutes, which are pretty but kind of boring considering there is no water, and plenty of precariously perched boulders along the trail.
Before long, you’ll come around a bend and see the natural arch. If you’re like me, you’ll want to take some silly photos…jumping photos, super touristy photos, and what Alex likes to call “yogadouche” photos. His words, not mine.
You can go through the hike and continue up a little further on the trail. Our campsite neighbors were in the canyon that is at the end of this hike (but apparently hard to hike up to the start of the canyon so most people don’t know it’s there).
Here’s one of the Martian-like views on the return trip to the car. You can see Alex in the middle-ish of the photo and the salt flats in the background (the sand-colored part). The hike is shorter than you’d expect, so if you’re itching to get out of the car to learn about some of the geology of the park and take some photos, we recommend trying this one.
Do you enjoy hiking?
When you go someplace new, do you like to learn about the history of the land?