Badwater Basin

Located at 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is a popular stop for sightseers visiting Death Valley National Park, California. The site is located about 17 miles south of Furnace Creek on Badwater Road.

Badwater Basin located at 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park. - Photo by James L Rathbun
Badwater Basin located at 282 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park. – Photo by James L Rathbun


It is rumored the name Badwater is earned when a mule from a survey team refused to drink from the shallow pool. Despite the name, the only thing “wrong” with the water is its salinity. Oddly enough, if one were to drink it, they would probably just get thirstier. Which is not a good thing in the hottest place on Earth.

Badwater is simply to lowest place in the basin and surrounded by 200 square miles of salt flat. The salt accumulated over time as water flowed into Lake Manly. Lake Manyly is a temporary lake, which forms from run off during thunderstorms and rain showers. As the water from this lake recede, and with no outlet from the basin, the salts and other minerals accumulated. The salt flat is composed on sodium chloride, calcite, gypsum and borax.

Every trip to Badwater in the past few years results in parking frustration and relatively larger groups of people. Take care of yourself in the hotter months as the severe heat can be deadly.

Pets are not allowed on any trail in Death Valley National Park, even if carried. Do not leave your animal in your vehicle. Speak with a ranger about one of the incredible dirt roads where you may walk your pet.

Badwater 135

Badwater is host to the starting line for the Badwater 135, an ultra-marathon for the ultra-crazy. The marathon starts at Badwater and runners, run, jog, and walk over one hundred and thirty miles to the Mount Whitney Portal Campground. Over the course of about two days, the runners gain over 14,600 feet in total elevation and this is done in the heat of midsummer just to make it interesting.


NameBadwater Basin
LocationDeath Valley National Park, California
Latitude, Longitude36.250278, -116.825833
Elevation-282 feet
OtherRound Trip Length: 1 mile (1.6km) to edge of salt flat
Round Trip Time: 40 minutes
Dificulty: Easy 
Elevation Gain: Flat
Trail Type: Boardwalk then route, out and back 
Location: Badwater Road, 30 minutes (17 miles/27km) south of Furnace Creek
Parking: Paved parking lot with large spaces for RVs and buses
Closest Restroom: Vault toilet located in parking lot
Route: An ADA accessible ramp leads down to a wooden boardwalk. The walking surface is firm and wide beyond the boardwalk. 

Badwater Basin Map


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