How To Get To Rainbow Canyon in Death Valley

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Within the confines of the Death Valley National Park lies a stunning masterpiece of nature, The Rainbow Canyon. Like the name implies, Rainbow Canyon offers an unusual view of colorful blends of red, grey, and pink steep walls that are up to 1,000 feet tall. Rainbow canyon is famous for several things, including a world-famous low-flying area. If you’re looking for directions to this gem of nature, read on.

From Las Vegas, it’s a 130-mile drive west to Death Valley National Park, where Rainbow Canyon is located. From Los Angeles, it’s a 160-mile drive that takes up to four hours. When you get to California 190 East, head on to Father Crowley Overlook. The Vista Point offers a great view of the Panamint Valley as well as the Rainbow Canyon, otherwise known as the Star Wars Canyon.

Preparing for your Visit

Since the only way to get to Rainbow Canyon is by driving, ensure your car is in excellent condition. Double-check everything before your trip, and also make sure to fill up your gas tank. You’ll be stranded if you run out of gas in the park, so make sure to fill it up. The area does not have good cellular coverage, so a hardcopy map will come in handy.

A functional GPS device should suffice if you don’t have a map. Remember to come along with enough water and food.

Things to Bring Along

Even in the best of temperatures, Rainbow Canyon is hotter than most places, so come prepared with protective clothing, sunscreen, sunglasses, and a wide-brimmed hat.

How to Dress for your Trip

Invest in a good pair of hiking shoes, as the sand can get very hot, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking. For clothes, go for light and comfortable materials.

Best Time to Visit Rainbow Canyon

Rainbow Canyon is located in a desert area, so it’s terribly hot in summer, and it might not be ideal to go there at that time. The best time to come here is between October and May. Asides from the cool and conducive weather, it is also less crowded at this time of the year therefore, easier to find camping.

Getting to Rainbow Canyon

The Rainbow Canyon scenic drive leads straight to the ghost town of Elgin through Nevada state road 317. Toward the west is Kane Springs Road. If you don’t mind driving through an almost isolated countryside road, you’ll enjoy traveling on Kaye Springs Road.

As you go through Kane Springs to the Rainbow Canyon, you’ll come across the Meadow Valley and Delamar Mountains. At the exit of Kane Springs Road is the US Highway 93, which drivers often take to the town of Alamo. It’s possible to reach the narrow canyon rim by taking the California State Route 190 or the Father Crowley Vista Point, 7 miles west of Panamint Springs.

Other Interesting Places to Visit at Death Valley National Park

Renowned for its dry lands and scorching weather, Death Valley is certainly an interesting destination to explore whenever you’re around California. The desert terrain is host to many delightful highlights like the Panamint Valley and the Padre Point, a dirt road that was once taken by a Catholic priest known as father Crowley, who served around Lone Pine a long time ago. Some of the greatest Death Valley highlights are listed below:

1. Catch Sunrise at Zabriskie Point

Get up at the break of dawn to watch the magnificent Death Valley terrain glow gold as sunlight hits the Zabriskie Ridge. The morning sun also paints the Father Crowley Vista Point, and Panamint Springs across the valley with gorgeous pinks and purples.

2. Take a Drive Down Badwater Road

Although Badwater remains a major highlight of Death Valley National Park, there are many surrounding areas you can take a detour to, such as Furnace Creek, which is just a short walk down south of Badwater. Three miles away is the famous Red Cathedral. While the journey to this interesting site might take a while on foot, it’s well worth it as you’ll be able to see the flood-carved Golden canyon.

3. Drop By The Furnace Creek Visitor Center

While at Death Valley Park, you might as well make a stop at Furnace Creek. Not only can visitors get comfortable lodging with all the necessary amenities, but they’ll also get an amazing view of the vast Death Valley terrain, including some of its most alluring highlights.

4. You Don’t Want To Miss The Beautiful Rainbow of Rocks on Artist’s Drive

Mornings and evenings are the very best times for a short climb through the popular Artist’s Drive path. “Artist’s drive,” as it’s commonly referred to, is a nine-mile long road with some of the most vibrant sedimentary formations in Death Valley National Park at its right and left sides.

While there is a lot to see at Artist’s drive, the major highlight is the amazing “Artist’ Pallette,” which is host to an amazing green, pink, and yellow colored rock formation which you can take up-close photos of or from the parking lot.

Why is Rainbow Canyon Called Star Wars Canyon?

The Rainbow Canyon is a section of the sidewinder corridor in the Death Valley National Park and is often referred to as the Jedi Transition or Star Wars Canyon. The Star Wars Canyon nickname came about because several scenes from the original Star Wars movie were shot at this site. While it is sometimes referred to as the Star Wars canyon by locals and tourists, note that this is not its official name.

Tips from National Park Service

Thousands of hikers come pouring in each year to see Death Valley. Although hiking the trails is quite safe and a lot of fun, there are a few things to keep in mind when hiking around this former flight training area, which has been closed until further notice by the military.

  • Slap on some sunscreen and take enough water when going hiking, as Death Valley is known for its notably high temperatures.
  • It’s safer and more fun to hike with some company, so you might want to bring along a family member or friend when heading out.
  • Try to avoid waking off the trail as much as possible. This will help keep you from getting lost
  • Choosing your outfit and footwear carefully when hiking in Death Valley is important. Your choice of clothing should be as comfortable as possible and not too bulky, as boots are a preferable option for your footwear to avoid injuries.
  • Resist the urge to pet or feed any wildlife you come across while hiking. Also, refrain from moving or trying to assist injured or sick wildlife on your own. Instead, report the incident to a park ranger.


Photographers from all over the country come trooping into the Death Valley National Park service simply to get some amazing pictures of the breath-taking scenery of the Rainbow Canyon. While there are many highlights in Death Valley, the Rainbow Canyon is certainly one you do not want to miss.