GPS Coordinates: 36.23125, -116.77695 (36°13’52.5″N 116°46’37.0″W)
This is the lowest point in all of the United States, so it is a must visit spot when you are in Death Valley. This is one of the most popular spots in Death Valley so the parking could an issue during the season or busy weekends.
The Badwater basin is about 282 feet below sea level at certain points. The actual lowest point is miles away from the identified spot by the parking lot. Don’t go looking for the exact lowest spot as they may vary from year to year and it’s not easily accessible.
The main attraction in Badwater Basin is the SEA LEVEL placard and the Salt flats.
The placard is perched high above in the cliff to show how low the location is below the sea level. You can easily spot the placard from the parking lot. Be sure to stop at the information displays in the Parking lot and on the boardwalk to learn about the history of the Badwater Basin.
The Badwater Pool near the parking lot is a small pool of water. This pool of water is present all year round but the level may vary depending on the season. This water is high in salt content so no life form will ever survive on them.
You can access the salt flats via the boardwalk. The entire Badwater basin is about 5 miles long and about 40 miles across. So you can imagine that the lowest point can be at any point within this area.
The most fascinating thing about the salt flats is the interesting patterns around the salt pools. These patterns form when the water evaporates and the land sinks which results in the formation of thick crests of dried up salt walls. Be cautious not to step on any of the salt walls crystals as the damage will take years to repair naturally.
From the salt flats if you look towards the Northeast you are looking at the Black Mountains range, Dante’s viewpoint is on top of this mountain, towards the South/Southwest you will be looking at the snow-capped Telescopic Peak which is the highest point in the Death Valley National Park.
During a heavy downpour, a shallow lake is formed for several miles across and only a few inches deep and it dries up quickly as the weather warms up, leaving crusts of salts behind.
There is a restroom facility on one of the left corners of the parking lot. So you can brag that you have done your business on the lowest point in Northern America LOL….
Best Time to Visit / Photograph
A couple of hours before sunset and sunrise, depending on the time of the year. Also, check the weather pattern as the temperature varies drastically and sometimes you may get stuck in the middle of high gusty winds and sand storm.
Recommended Camera Gear
- Digital Camera with Ultra Wide or Normal to Mid-Range Zoom Lens or Macro Lens
- Cable shutter release or Remote Shutter Release
- Steady Tripod
- High powered flashlight for light painting and regular night time use
How to get there
If you are driving from Furnace Creek, you can reach Badwater Basin from North via HWY 190 by taking a right at the fork just before you reach The Inn / The Oasis at Death Valley. You can also drive from the south via HWY 127 to HWY 178 which becomes Badwater Road near Ashford Junction This is the only road that goes through the park in that direction so it’s hard to miss.
Place to Stay
If you are camping in your car, you can technically use the parking facility to camp overnight. It’s always advisable to check with the Park Rangers or at the visitors center. You don’t want to get a citation. The nearest places to stay is The Inn and The Oasis. If you drive further up north on HWY 190, you will find tons of camping options near Furnace Creek.
Pictorial Highlights from this place…