Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park Badwater Basin Boardwalk

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.

Badwater Basin Death Valley
Badwater Basin

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.

Badwater Basin Death Valley
Hikers on the salt flats

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)

Trail Map
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Elevation Profile
Click or hover over any spot on this elevation profile to see the distance from the start and elevation above sea level at that location, which will be highlighted on the map.

You may also view a regional map of surrounding California Desert trails and campgrounds.


282 Feet below sea level282 Feet below sea levelBadwater Basin Death ValleyBadwater Basin Death ValleyBadwater Basin Death ValleyBadwater Basin Death ValleyBadwater Basin Death ValleyBadwater Basin Death ValleyBadwater Basin Death ValleyBadwater Basin Death Valley

These photos were taken in November of 2009. Click to enlarge.
Nearby Trails & Attractions
artists drive death valley Artist's Drive
This 9-mile drive crosses a sloping mountainside composed of vibrant soil colored by rich metals.
Dantes View Death Valley Dante's View
This towering overlook above Badwater Basin offers panoramic views of Death Valley.
Golden Canyon Death Valley Golden Canyon - Gower Gulch Loop
This 4-mile loop visits stunning terrain in the badlands region near Furnace Creek.
Natural Bridge Canyon hike 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 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.
hike Death Valley Death Valley
Explore more destinations in Death Valley National Park.
Death Valley Camping Death Valley Campgrounds
Nine campgrounds are spread throughout this large park to facilitate your visit.
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Tagged with · National Parks
Distance: 1 mile · Elevation change: 10 feet

One Comment on Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park

  1. […] This trail allows you to walk to the lowest place in the U.S. As one might expect from a spot in Death Valley, the walk can be punishingly hot, so it’s best to look at the weather, bring a hat and go in the winter. Two-hundred and eighty-two feet below sea level, this 1.8-mile out and back trail gives you incredible views. With a long boardwalk, the view — but not the entirety of the trail — is available to wheelchair users. The cracked ground shows hexagons where water evaporates quickly on the salt flats. Get more info and directions here. […]

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