Difficulty: Moderate Uphill

Distance: As far as you want to go. Only 1/8 mile leads you to good views.

Some of the best views in Death Valley await you on top of these badlands. And the good news?  You don’t have to hike very far to earn an Ansel Adams’ worthy vista.

From the Texas Springs Campground head east to the base of the badlands and choose your upward route. I liked the look of the use trail to the North side of these sandy hills so that’s where I began my journey.

Gaining elevation, you’ll gaze up at the badlands. There’s something fascinating about their barren slopes. In the desert, even emptiness can be beautiful. The beauty of these badlands lies in the rough textures of the sandy rock against the soft brush strokes of clouds in the sky. And in the way the hills are shaped—like God’s Playdough.


Looking up at the Badlands

As you climb farther, stop from time to time, turn around, and stare in awe at the Panamint Mountains, a giant wall of crumpled rock staring you in the face from across Death Valley. Snow-topped Telescope Peak—the crowning glory of the range at 11,043 feet and the highest spot in Death Valley National Park—is a white shock of pleasant surprise against the bluish-gray rock of the surrounding mountains. Its 9,064 foot neighbor Wildrose Peak also wears a hat of snow from October or November through March or April.


The Panamint Range from the Texas Springs Campground Badlands

When you clear the top of the badlands, to the east, you’ll see in the foreground a mesa made of rust and tan rock layered like a geologic parfait. The imposing, crinkled face of the Funeral Mountains serve as a backdrop.


Hiking behind Texas Springs Campground

Both loops of Texas Springs Campground are spread out at your feet.

This is more about the journey than the destination. You can putter around the top of the badlands, appreciating the view. If you’re an experienced cross-country desert hiker and feel comfortable exploring canyons, take a more strenuous and longer trek over to the Funeral Mountains and twist and turn your way through your choice of washes.

Photo of Shadow from Texas Springs Badlands

I highly recommend you bring at least one hiking pole. It will decrease your risk of falling as you descend back down the badlands.

Directions and Parking:

If you’re camped in Texas Springs Campground in Death Valley National Park, take off from your campsite. If not, from Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park, turn left off of Highway 190 on to the road leading to Texas Springs Campground. There are a few day use areas with picnic tables in the campground. Park in one of those spots, have a bite to eat at the table, then venture up to the badlands.


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