We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Exploring the Former Canal Zone

The Eighth Wonder of the World was also a social experiment
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 5.8 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  The Panama Canal, a 48-mile (77.1-kilometer) channel dug between oceans, will celebrate its 100th birthday in 2014 by doubling its... more »

Tips:  When to go
Ships going through the locks mid-afternoon are generally bigger, but the process is the same, regardless of size. During... more »

Take this guide with you!

Save to mobile
Get this guide & thousands of others on your mobile phone
EveryTrail guides are created by travelers like you.
  1. 1. Download the EveryTrail app from the App Store
  2. 2. Search for the Exploring the Former Canal Zone guide
  3. 3. Enjoy your self-guided tour
Get the app

Points of Interest

A busy trans-shipment port today, Balboa at the Pacific end of the Panama Canal was the administrative capital of the American Canal Zone. In its heyday, Balboa had impressive churches, a YMCA, a near-professional little theater, Scout troops, a junior college and lushly landscaped streets. An Elks fraternal lodge survives on Calle La Boca just ... More

2. Goethals Monument

George Washington Goethals. a U.S. Army officer and engineer, was US President Theodore Roosevelt's choice as the man who could make the Panama Canal a reality. Appointed in 1907, the West Point graduate completed the project in 1914 ahead of schedule and served as the first governor of the Panama Canal Zone. But it wasn't until 1954 that the... More

3. Panama Canal Administration Building

Designed by Austin W. Lord, a prominent New York architect, this Italian Renaissance building was inaugurated in July 1914, exactly one month after the Canal opened. To maintain architectural unity in the Canal Zone, Lord also did a number of other buildings including train stations, the hydroelectric plant at Gatùn, residences in Balboa... More

This 654-foot (200-meter) hill, reached by a road that snakes up the hillside from behind the Panama Canal Administration Building, provides 360-degree views of the Canal, Panama Bay and the city. The first of two guard boxes is at Quarry Heights, which was senior military headquarters for the U.S. in Panama from 1915 to 1997. The U.S. Southern... More

5. Panama Railroad Station

The Panama Railroad is not only the first transcontinental railroad, it is also the shortest at only 47 miles (75 kilometers). Completed in 1855, it dramatically cut the time required to transport mail and gold miners from New York to California.

The original station was in Balboa downhill from the Panama Canal Administration Building. It is a... More

6. Corozal American Cemetery

Maintained by the American Battle Monuments Commission, the Corozal American Cemetery is the only one of 24 U.S. commemorative cemeteries still active. It was established in 1914 when some earlier burials were moved from Ancon. The 16-acre (6-hectare) site has about 6,000 graves of those who served in the US Armed Forces or contributed to the... More

See the Panama Canal in action at Miraflores Locks about a 15-minute drive from the city center. The best time to visit is in mid-afternoon, arriving early enough to see the four exhibition halls, which include interactive modules, video presentations and nifty canal models. Fun for kids, big and small, is the Canal in Action exhibit which takes... More

8. French Cemetery

Go a little beyond the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel Locks to Paraiso. On your left, you'll come across the French Cemetery, a hillside of green, scattered with small white crosses. The remains, mostly of workers from the French West Indies, were moved here from other sites after the Americans took over the French attempt to cut a canal across the ... More