“We should come home from adventures, and perils, and discoveries every day with new experience and character” – Henry David Thoreau
Beautiful and monotone, fascinating and sweltering. Badwater Basin, a featured part of Death Valley National Park, and at an elevation of 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.
The site consists of a small pool of “bad water” from a spring. Of interest are the formations of salt crystal on this flat expanse, which are very interesting with the pools of water of varying colors because of different bacteria.
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, which are interesting.
The accumulated salts of the surrounding basin make it undrinkable, thus giving it the name. It is rumored that name Badwater was first applied when a surveyor attempted to get his mule to drink from the water. When it refused he said it had “bad water” and the name stuck.
Surrounding the area is a range of mountains that are far higher than the basin itself. Standing the tallest is Telescope Peak, which at 11,049′ is the highest point in Death Valley and provides fantastic views of the surrounding valley and basin. Of particular interest is the fact that from the peak, you can simultaneously see both the basin (the lowest point in North America and Mount Whitney in the distance, standing at 14, 505 feet, making it the tallest peak in the lower 48 states.