Between Badwater Basin and the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley national park there is a short gravel road that will take you up to the Natural Bridge Trailhead. A short one mile trail that can be extended a half mile on the end to wander up the canyon a little more. We parked our rental car at the trailhead, grabbed our water and snacks and headed up the trail. Just like everything leaving from Badwater Basin, the trail takes you up pretty much the whole time but at a very slight angle. The trail had once been paved but little remains of the path due to a flash flood at some point in history. The trail is all gravel and at some of the steeper points a little harder to make your way up but it’s still a very easy trail. Probably .75miles in you will reach the trail’s namesake feature: the Natural Bridge.
Looking plucked straight out of southern Utah, the hefty chunk of rock reaches from one end of the canyon to the other. We were quite impressed by the arch as we passed under it like a gateway to the rest of the canyon. After the Natural Bridge the canyon has a large rounded area where Anya and I sat down to eat our apricot clif bars (the best flavor ever). While we snacked, Dad checked out a nook in the rocks that seemed perfectly round and you could store a giant pencil in it if you had one. After that we met a very friendly couple from Sacramento that had done much of the same road trips as us and had even visited the little train museum by our house. After chatting we carried on to the end of the trail where there had once been a waterfall but was now a slick rock slide. We climbed up it and scrambled around the canyon for a little more before heading back to the car. Dad tested the former waterfall’s slideability and we figured out it worked a little too well! We were back at the car in no time thanks to the trail’s short length and ready to explore the rest of the park. If you’re in Death Valley for a short time or for a long trip make sure to check out the Natural Bridge trail! Also bring water along with you even though it is a short hike because Death Valley has that name for a reason!
Badwater Basin (-279fasl) and Telescope Peak (11,043fasl) from the trailhead.
Thanks for reading! – Josh