During my honeymoon tour of North America I spent 1 day in Death Valley National Park. All of my research stated that Death Valley was the hottest place on earth and boasted the lowest point in North America so there were a few areas I wanted to check out with Badwater Basin being one of them.
Situated at 282 ft (86m) below sea level, Badwater Basin is a pretty unique place – it’s extremely flat, covered is salt and hot. And I mean seriously hot. On the day I visited the temperate was hitting 40 degrees C and so spending more than 10 minutes outside of the air conditioned car was pretty intense!
Parking at the salt flats is really easy as there’s a fully tarmaced parking area with plenty of space. On my visit the salt flats weren’t too busy and I can’t see it ever really getting too busy here. The site is so vast that there’s very little chance of being overwhelmed with tourists so you have plenty of time and space to explore the area.
From the car park you can walk down to the salt flats on the wooden walkways. These are needed as the actual salt flat itself either side of the walkway is very uneven under foot. The view you get from the car park is however pretty incredible.
So, exactly how hot is Death Valley? Well, around the walkways there are a number of information boards to read, one of which tells you how extreme this environment really is – look at the maximum recorded temperature here in July – 57 degrees C!
The salt flats themselves are not a static feature however. The salt crust that sits on top of the mud is under continual transformation with the wind redistributing the salt around the basin and the occasional rains putting the salt back into a solution before re-emerging again as salt elsewhere.
What you don’t expect visiting the salt flats is that there is a pool of standing water known as the Badwater Pool. This is due to a natural spring which is constantly feeding water into the pool however due to the evaporation rate there’s no chance of it growing very large! Not only that, it’s completely undrinkable due to the salt concentration!
Beyond the walkways you can make your way all the way along the salt flats to the expansive flat area that sits on the horizon. With the temperature being so high and not having a hat (yeah, that was a stupid move) we ventured a little way along the salt flats but certanly not as far as others, the heat was simply too intense!
The salt flats were somewhere I’ve wanted to go and see my entire life and so it was great to finally have the opportunity to explore this unique formation.
Make sure if you’re heading to Death Valley you don’t give the salt flats a miss, if you like your geography and natural formations it really is an incredible place to see. 8/10.