Death Valley: Golden Canyon Sunset and Moonrise Images

Death Valley National Park is a phenomenal study of erosion, weather, geology, sand dunes, salt formations, and huge spring wildflower blooms on rare occasions.

This post covers the Golden Canyon, a three-mile point-to-point trail that is the flip side of Zabriskie Point. The elevation gain is about 613 feet. One can walk a portion of the trail and there are alternative loops instead of going point-to-point and reversing.

We did portions of this trail on numerous occasions. Whereas Zabriskie Point is a sunrise image, the Golden Canyon is primarily a sunset view.

Feature Image Details

The person in the golden garb adds a nice sense of scale. I could have easily edited him out, but I like the effect.

Golden Canyon Full Moon Rise at Sunset

That’s the backside of Zabriskie Point on the right and the Red Cathedral on the left. The moon came up behind a layer of clouds which evened out the light.

To be precise, this was one day before the full moon. The best day to photograph a “full moon” at sunset is one day prior. At sunrise, it is one day after the full moon. The reason is ambient light. On the day of the full moon, it’s too dark.

Golden Canyon Pointed Clouds

I was hiking out of the canyon with my wife Liz and these amazing pointed clouds appeared. The above image was just before sunset. Right after sunset, those clouds turned pink.

Golden Canyon Pink Pointed Clouds Sunset

There were only a few minutes between the preceding two images. I surmise there were very strong high winds moving the clouds around.

The location was slightly different as we were walking out.

Details, Details

There are beautiful rock formations in the canyon. Do not get so distracted from the grand view that you miss these beautiful details.

The camera angle for the above image was straight down.

Note the lack of shadows. Harsh sunlight would have killed the image.

I lingered so long in the canyon after sunset taking pictures like these, that I accidentally happened to be in a perfect spot to get the moonrise image above.

Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

If you missed them, please check out my previous articles.

  1. Death Valley: Zabriskie Point Sunrise, Manly Beacon
  2. Death Valley: Dante’s View Sunrise
  3. Death Valley: Artist’s Palette
  4. Death Valley: Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes Sunset
  5. Death Valley: Badwater, Salt Polygons, Devil’s Golf Course


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Mike “Mish” Shedlock