Death Valley – Badwater Basin

I didn’t sleep much due to high winds nearly blowing my tent over and temps rising 20 degrees after midnight making me sweat under my down quilt.  News of my grandma passing gave uncertainty on how long my trip would last but I was here at it was time to DO IT NOW.  Figured the services would take at least a couple days to plan so I pushed ahead with my plans to explore south of Furnace Creek.

If you haven’t figured out by now I like gratuitous shots from the tarmac.  Schwing!

From Furnace Creek you could stay entirely on pavement and drive a huge loop around the Black Mountains and Greenwater Range.  I would love to do that trip but it would have taken too long and will have to wait for another visit.  Instead, today was time to get low – way, way down low.  Look close – see that white sign on the mountain side?  That’s sea level.

This is Badwater Basin.  At 282 feet below sea level, this is the lowest point in North America and 8th lowest point in the world not covered by water.

This place was named “badwater” because it contains a small spring that is saturated with the salt deposits of the flats.  Not a good place for a drink but the morning views are great.

Wildlife actually exists here – insects, snails, some plants – but I couldn’t find any today.  The shape of salt crystal structures in the pools remind me of watching thunderstorm clouds form in the summer.

You can hike directly out on the flats for a good distance, but according to park literature it can become very fragile and caution should be taken to prevent damage.

Looking back towards the Black Mountains and parking area you get a sense of how tiny we are & how vast the world really is.  Amazing.

Hiking Data

You can see from the topo map that I messed up and didn’t hike the full distance.  I didn’t have the maps fully downloaded in my iOS app and couldn’t tell where I should stop before causing damage.  Take note – while freestyle trips give much flexibility, lack of preparation costs some opportunities.  I can live with the trade-off this time.

Lat = 36.2460823 , Long = -116.8185043 -- Show at Google Maps

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