Badwater Basin - Death Valley National Park

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This page last updated on 02/09/2018
(Fig. 01)
MAP-Death Valley National Park-2
(Fig. 02)
Directions: From the Stratosphere Casino head southwest on S Las Vegas Blvd toward W Baltimore Ave. Travel 1.7 miles and turn right onto Spring Mountain Rd. Go .7 miles and turn left to merge onto I-15 South. Follow for 5.4 miles and take exit 33 to merge onto NV-160 W/Blue Diamond Rd/State Route 160 W toward Pahrump. Continue to follow NV-160 W/State Route 160 West for 55 miles  In Pahrump, continue straight on Hwy. 160 through three stoplights then drive 3.1 miles. Turn left at Bell Vista Road and continue 25.5 miles to Death Valley Junction. Turn right and then immediately left on CA Hwy 190 and drive 30 miles to Furnace Creek Junction. Badwater Basin is on the west side of CA 178 (Badwater Road), 17 miles south of the Furnace Creek junction and highway 190.
Area Description: The sign near the parking area says that the area was named Badwater because a traveler was coming through and saw that there was water for his mule to drink; however, because the water is so full of salt the mule refused to drink it and thus the name Badwater was born. Several salt trails and shallow seasonal streams lead towards other pools out across the valley. During occasional rainy periods, a large shallow lake forms, several miles across and only a few inches deep. “Each newly-formed lake does not last long though, because the 1.9 inches of average rainfall is overwhelmed by a 150 inches annual evaporation rate. This, the United States’ greatest evaporation potential, means that even a 12-foot-deep, 30-mile-long lake would dry up in a single year.” However, Badwater never dries out completely, and even manages to support a unique species of fish - the Death Valley pupfish, a small bluish creature which has evolved to survive in the hot saline conditions. Far above this, the overlook at Dante’s Peak has imposing views over Badwater and the surrounding desert.
01/27/2014 Trip Notes: Located right in the heart of the Death Valley National Park, no trip to Death Valley would be complete without a stop at Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America. On this, my third visit to the park, I was accompanied by my friend Jim Herring from Wichita Kansas (Fig. 01). From the parking lot you can see the sea level sign that is located 280 feet above you on the adjacent mountain. It really puts in perspective how low you are when you see it compared to the mountain. Click to enlarge and look for the arrow in the middle of the photo in (Fig. 03). After viewing the sea level sign, head down to the boardwalk which leads to a small pool of water and the salt flats. Here you will find a sign (Fig. 01) indicating that this location is 282 feet below sea level. Just to the right is Badwater pool (Fig. 04) (depending upon the time of year). Looking beyond the pool, you are greeted with a massive lake of what looks like snow. However, instead of snow, it is the left over salt from evaporated water. With Telescope Peak, elevation 11,049 feet, the highest point in Death Valley in the background, these salt flats stretch almost 5 miles across, as far as the eye can see (Fig. 05). The view of Badwater in (Fig. 06) showing some people walking out to the center of the basin, was taken several miles past the parking area at Badwater.
(Fig. 03)
(Fig. 04)
EFP-IMG_2881 Stitch
(Fig. 05)
(Fig. 06)

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