This is part 2 from our visit to Death Valley National Park, please be sure to see yesterday’s update for part 1. The update today covers our visit to the Badwater Basin area of the park.
Badwater Basin is a basin in Death Valley National Park noted as the lowest point in North America, with an elevation of 282 feet below sea level. Mount Whitney, the highest point in the contiguous 48 states, is only 84.6 miles to the WNW. The site itself consists of a small spring-fed pool of "bad water" next to the road in a sink; the accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name.
The pool does have animal and plant life, including pickleweed, aquatic insects, and the Badwater snail. We didn’t locate any snails today, we did walk out on the flats for a while, Betty was the bravest and walked out farther than us. :-)
Adjacent to the pool, where water is not always present at the surface, repeated freeze–thaw and evaporation cycles gradually push the thin salt crust into hexagonal honeycomb shapes.
The pool itself is not actually the lowest point of the basin: the lowest point (which is only slightly lower) is several miles to the west and varies in position. However, the salt flats are hazardous to traverse (in many cases being only a thin white crust over mud), and so the sign marking the low point is at the pool instead. The basin was considered the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere until the discovery of Laguna del Carbón in Argentina at −344 feet below sea level.
One of the pictures I added showed the sign way above that was at sea level. If you look above the “S” in the word sign in the marked "Sea Level Sign", you can barely see it. This is an amazing place to visit, don’t miss it if you are planning a visit to Death Valley National Park. I am adding a lot of picture and hope you enjoy them. Check back later for more from Las Vegas.