The one spot no Death Valley traveler misses is Badwater Basin, lowest spot in North America, though the actual lowest spot is located a bit West of this sign, 282 feet (85.5 meters) below sea level.
An endorheic basin, meaning no outlet to the sea, Badwater concentrates the salts flowing in through very low rainfall and humidity and fierce evaporation. Sparse life inhabits the pools.
The waters are flowing from natural springs here due to a fault you can recognize from the two different colored rocks in the slopes above the pool and parking area. It takes over a half hour to hike this far out.
Even further out on the playa but still on the beaten path. Those dots are people.
The salty water table is only inches (centimeters) below the surface.
Three quarters of an hour’s hike and everything has vanished except the distant mountain ranges and endless identical salt hexagons in every direction.
Coarse textured salt surface.
It’s eerie and unnatural to walk in any direction and have the perspective change not a whit. Old time miners crossing the salt pans in the heat would at times become convinced they were in water up to their nose and strip down, holding their clothes above their heads to keep them dry while walking on the lake.
So don’t miss Badwater Basin, lowest place in North America and one of the strangest. Try to keep your clothes on.
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