Home RV Travel Experiencing Death Valley: Badwater Basin

Experiencing Death Valley: Badwater Basin

by Craig Roberts
Mosaic Badwater Basin Salt Flats

Of the many amazing things that there are to see and do here in Death Valley, there are a few that earn a place at the top of every visitor’s must-see list. Badwater Basin would most certainly be one of those. In fact, if you were to be passing through the area and heavily restricted on time, thinking that you could perhaps only make one or two stops, I would suggest making the iconic Badwater Basin a strong consideration.

Why? You ask.

Well, there are several reasons that push this destination to the top and you may be surprised to hear that it is not because I think that it is the most spectacular, most beautiful, most mind-blowing sight to see here in the Valley, though I am sure that there are more than a few people out there who would be quick to argue about that. However, for me personally, I have found that each and every sight is just so unique from another that it seems too difficult to judge and Badwater Basin is no exception.

Location

One reason for making this your choice destination is simply for its location and accessibility. Depending on which direction you are traveling through the park, If you are traveling East or West through the park via California State Highway 190, you would turn South on Badwater Road. Badwater Basin is 17mi. South of the Inn at the Oasis Resort.

Accessibility

Not only is it easy to find, but it is very accessible. Though it is one of the more popular destination locations in the park, there are quite a few parking spaces available in the large parking lot including large designated RV parking along the backside of the lot. If you should happen to get there during one of the more busy times, there are additional parking opportunities available alongside Badwater Road leading up to the parking lot.

Amenities

As for Amenities, you’ll most likely be relieved to know that the Park Service has provided bathrooms at this location, which can be a little harder to come by at many of the other sites throughout the park. So, I recommend taking advantage of the opportunity!

One very nice feature worth mentioning here is that this site is Wheelchair friendly and a ramp has been provided that leads down to the walking trail, which is flat, compacted, relatively smooth surface leading visitors out onto the valley floor.

Other than that, there are no other services available, so be sure to bring along plenty of water and or your favorite snacks to help keep you energized and most importantly hydrated! If you should any of those items, you can purchase them from the general store located at The Ranch at Furnace Creek, which is about a mile from the Badwater Road turn off from Hwy 190 heading toward, but just before you reach the National Park Visitors Center.

Badwater Basin Elevation Marker
Badwater Basin Elevation Marker -282′ Below Sea Level!

Significance

Perhaps the greatest reason for choosing Badwater Basin as a single stop of choice is due to its iconic nature and significance. More than likely you have heard that Death Valley is known as the hottest place in all of North America. But it also claims the title for being the lowest elevation at 282′ below sea level! So, unless you plan on trying your luck at visiting the park during the hottest time of year, trying to catch one of those record-setting temperatures, why not instead take a walk out onto the flats of Badwater Basin and earn that bragging right of having visited the lowest place in North America!

History

If you’re like me and get jazzed about geology at all, you’ll be like a child in a candy store in this amazing park as there are some of the best representations of volcanism, plate tectonics, erosion the list goes on and on! But you may be interested to know that this extraordinarily dry barren landscape was once the site of an enormous deep lake called Manly Lake which disappeared some 10,000 yrs ago leaving behind the large deposit of salt that you see today which, by the way, varies anywhere from 1 – 5ft in depth.

Reflective pool on Badwater Basin
Badwater Basin, after a decent rainfall, becomes “Badwater Lake”

Every so often, the runoff from local rains rushes down through the surrounding canyons and fills the valley floor creating a shallow lake that is often referred to as Badwater Lake. Many visitors make the hike out to the lake to catch a glimpse of this beautiful phenomenon. Just a word of advice, however, if you should choose to make that hike yourself, just be aware that your footgear and perhaps a few other items will have a tendency to take on a certain coating of salt (paste) along the way that can form a sort of crust as it drys that will stay with you until you have the ability to wash it out, so be prepared for that minor detail before heading out. – Your welcome! 🙂

salt rock on the ground at Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park
Salt, Salt Everywhere!
Craigs hand holding salt rock from Badwater Basin
95% Pure Table Salt!

The Experience

Sandwiched between two magnificent mountain ranges, the picturesque Panamints Mountains with its Telescope Peak outlining the West and the contrastingly stark Black Mountains to the East, the brilliant white salt valley floor stretches out a total of five miles across to meet them both. There is an almost magical feeling that begins to wash over as you wander out along the crusty trail. Every few steps intensify the powerful silence and serenity that opens long-forgotten windows to your soul. You experience a oneness with the earth and all of nature as though you had returned home.

Selfie RVRoadramblers Craig and Nicole at Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park
Us, reflecting at “Badwater Lake”

Conclusion

So there you have it. Our collection of information and experience from one of our great National Parks here in the U.S. We hope that, if you have not yet had the opportunity to visit Badwater Basin at Death Valley, that we have somehow tweaked your interest and enticed you to add a trip to your planner. If you would like more information on Death Valley please be sure to check back soon as we are adding more posts all the time. In the meantime here is a link to the National Park Service website for Death Valley.

If you”ve been to Badwater Basin and feel like I’ve missed something about the area that might help anyone whos trying to plan a trip, please be sure to leave a comment below.

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