Summary: Complete Guide to the Salt Flats in Death Valley National Park in California, Camping spots, What to Pack and more. *I use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases. Thanks for your support!
Land Acknowledgement: Northern Paiute and Newe Land. Find what Native Land you are visiting by using the app Native Land! I encourage you to read the history and culture of the Indigenous people who’s land you are visiting!
Check to see the status of Park trails and campgrounds HERE. Depending on when you’re reading this, there may be a stay at home order still in place and National Parks respond according to the State’s Covid-19 status.
- About the Salt Flats in Death Valley
- DEATH VALLEY VIDEO MINI-SERIES
- FOR THE SCIENCE NERDS LIKE ME
- Getting to the Salt Flats in Death Valley
- Salt Flats in Death Valley Hike: everything you need to know
- Tecopa Hot Springs
- WARDROBE INSPIRATION FOR SALT FLATS
About the Salt Flats in Death Valley
The Badwater Basin Salt Flats are stunning hexagonal-patterned salt crystals with the cliffs of the Black Mountains in the distance. Did that sell you on planning a visit? The formation of the salt crystals are so interesting to look at up close as the the crystals expanded into ridges and flat portions. Badwater Basin is also a point of interest due to it being the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.
The story behind the name Badwater, in Badwater Basin Salt Flats, is about a traveler that came through with their mule in search of water. Because the water was full of salt, the mule refused to drink it, and therefore named the area “Badwater”. Pretty entertaining if you ask me.
DEATH VALLEY VIDEO MINI-SERIES
If you want a short visual of our time in the Death Valley Salt Flats, check out the YouTube Video my partner Johnathon DeSoto created! Subscribe if you want to see the complete mini series as it comes out!
FOR THE SCIENCE NERDS LIKE ME
How on earth are salt flats formed? This, of course, was something I had to look up.
The Badwater Basin once had a lake full of minerals from the rain bringing runoff down the mountains to collect in the valley. The evaporation rate is 150 inches of annual evaporation. So, after all the water eventually evaporated out, the minerals of sodium chloride (table salt), calcite, gypsum and borax were left behind.
This process of forming salt is ongoing as Death Valley’s drainage system brings more and more minerals to the basin.
The more you know!
Getting to the Salt Flats in Death Valley
- Distance from Las Vegas: 2 hours
- Distance from Los Angeles: 4.5 hours
- From San Francisco: 8.5 hours
Follow Badwater Road for 30 minutes south of Furnace Creek. The Salt Flats are within minutes away of Artist’s Palette on the south end of Death Valley National Park in California.
PARKING PASS & FEES
The National Park pass – America the Beautiful is required to spend time in Death Valley! Purchase online HERE.
Salt Flats in Death Valley Hike: everything you need to know
Badwater Basin Salt Flats is one, if not THE, most popular place visited in Death Valley. Because of this, the parking lot tends to get FULL. It is a larger lot than Artist’s Palette but plan to arrive early in case you need to wait around for parking.
- 2 vault toilets for use at parking lot
- ADA ramp is available to get down to the boardwalk
- No pets allowed
- Hiking not advised past 10am during the summer due to Heat Advisory (after all, the highest recorded temperature on earth was in Death Valley!)
The BEST views of the Salt Flats require an easy, flat 1 mile walk there and 1 mile back (total of 2 miles round trip.) The Badwater Basin Salt Flats cover almost 200 square miles, so if you get a parking spot, know you’ll have plenty of space to yourself in the salt flats.
- budget time to walk out a mile to see the best of the salt flat
- If you are taking photos, I highly recommend sunset or sunrise. The photos in this post were taken at sunset.
When to Visit Death Valley
The Fall and Winter seasons are typically the most ideal times to visit Death Valley, but also the most heavily trafficked. The temperatures stay mild during the day (60-70 degrees F) and dip into the 30 degree F range at night.
I would STRONGLY discourage you from visiting Death Valley in the Summer time. Your vehicle may overheat leaving you stranded. Secondly, the highest recorded temperature on Earth was taken here in August of 2020 at 130 degrees Fahrenheit. No. Thank. You.
CAMPING OPTIONS NEAR THE SALT FLATS IN DEATH VALLEY:
If you guys have read any of my blog posts before, you know I LOVE finding free camping on freecampsites.net. Another resource is thedyrt.com. There are several options in Death Valley, but I’ll list just a few that are closest to the action!
- Death Valley National Park – Stove Pipe Wells
- Mid September – Mid May
- $12 a night
- Water and Toilets available
- Death Valley National Park – Emigrant Campground
- Open all year
- 10 sites
- water is available
- toilets are available
- Death Valley National Park – Lee Flat
- Open all year round
- Free, dispersed camping
- First come, first serve
- Restrooms available
A hotel and Visitor Center exist in Furnace Creek 30 minutes North.
Tecopa Hot Springs
Just outside of Death Valley National Park is Tecopa Hot Springs. This is a rustic hot springs resort that you don’t want to miss. Showers and laundry was what sold me on my 2 week road trip and it ended up being some of my favorite memories.
WARDROBE INSPIRATION FOR SALT FLATS
Shop from what I personally love to wear and also some stylish items I WISH I had in my wardrobe.
Check out other locations in Death Valley on my blog:
Save and Pin for Later! Leave a comment below if you have been here or plan to visit!