Badwater Basin is a must-stop on any first trip to Death Valley National Park. The elevation here is -282 feet, making this the lowest locale in North America. A wooden Sea Level plaque 282 feet over Badwater Basin lets visitors know just how low they’ve come.
Being able to brag about how far below sea level you’ve been is not the only reason to stop at Badwater Basin. Because this area gets so little rainfall (less than two inches annually) and no water can flow out of the basin, the water gets trapped and evaporates, leaving behind mineral deposits that cover the basin like a salty dusting of snow.
A boardwalk allows for a bizarre walk across the basin, and is the best way to take in the unique surroundings. The surface is made up of a chaotic network of rough fissures created when newer salt breaks out from beneath the crust. Stepping across this barren bed of NaCl offers a clear understanding of the extreme harshness of survival in Death Valley.
Across the valley rises the 11,049-foot tall Telescope Peak, the tallest in Death Valley. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48, is less than 100 miles away.
To look down on Badwater Basin from the Black Mountains behind the boardwalk, visit Dante’s View 5,700 feet above.
To get to Badwater Basin: From Furnace Creek, drive seventeen miles south on Badwater Road. The parking area for Badwater Basin will be on the right. The road passes Artist’s Drive, another worthy attraction with unique Death Valley geology.
Badwater Basin address: Badwater Road, Death Valley National Park, Death Valley, CA 92328
Badwater Basin coordinates: 36.2301, -116.7671 (36° 13′ 48.4″N 116° 46′ 01.6″W)
You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.
|Artist's Drive |
This 9-mile drive crosses a sloping mountainside composed of vibrant soil colored by rich metals.
|Dante's View |
This towering overlook above Badwater Basin offers panoramic views of Death Valley.
|Golden Canyon - Gower Gulch Loop |
This 4-mile loop visits stunning terrain in the badlands region near Furnace Creek.
|Natural Bridge Canyon |
The 2-mile round trip hike up Natural Bridge Canyon is a great trek for those interested in learning about the geological history of Death Valley
|Sidewinder Canyon |
This 4 to 7-mile hike visits narrow slot canyons full of pour-overs, carve outs, and dark passages that beg to be explored.
|Death Valley |
Explore more destinations in Death Valley National Park.
|Death Valley Campgrounds |
Nine campgrounds are spread throughout this large park to facilitate your visit.