Set your alarm to make it in time for sunrise at Zabriskie Point, which is not to be missed. The iconic overlook is ridiculously easy to get to, up a short (but steep) paved path from the parking lot. Bring coffee, then after this early-morning jaunt, head back to your hotel for breakfast before continuing on for more adventure.
If you’re up for a hike, Sidewinder Canyon and Room Canyon are both hikes through slot canyons and labyrinths; scrambling is required for both. Grab a free map at the Visitor Center or download AllTrails maps so you don’t get lost.
Another nearby favorite trail is Natural Bridge, a very short out-and-back hike through a large canyon to a natural bridge formation. Just beyond the bridge gives way to a few dried up waterfalls, which left dramatic shapes through the rocky landscape. Last, the 3-mile Golden Canyon offers dramatic views of the park from its Red Cathedral. Golden Canyon boasts a history in film and TV, having been a filming location for Star Wars: A New Hope and The Twilight Zone, among others. Hike through the canyon to see how it earned its name and do a stop off at the Red Cathedral to scramble up the red rocks that you can spot from the floor of the canyon. Those looking for more of a challenge can hike the full Gower Gulch Loop that will drop you in the parking lot of Golden Canyon after you hike a full 6 miles, crossing badlands on your way to and from Zabriskie Point.
For lunch on the road, it’s slim pickings, but we love Timbisha Tacos who serves up delicious fry bread tacos. (Note: they’re currently closed for Covid-19, but hopefully they’ll be re-opening soon.) Other options include the aforementioned restaurants, but at lunchtime the steep prices can seem almost offensive. BYO picnics are possible but challenging; with no grocery stores around, you’ll need to plan ahead.