The salt flats in Badwater Basin cover nearly 200 square miles, among the largest protected salt flats in the world.
Salt flats are too harsh for most plants and animals to survive, yet are quite fragile. Delicate crystals are easily crushed and the relatively thin upper crust of salt can break through to the mud layer below, leaving tire tracks and even footprints. For this reason, vehicles are prohibited off established roads in Death Valley.
What causes salt flats?
Sodium Chloride—better known as table salt—makes up the majority of salts on Badwater Basin. Other evaporative minerals found here include calcite, gypsum, and borax.
Did You Know?
The average evaporation rate in the bottom of Death Valley is 150 inches a year. Since the average rainfall is less than 2 inches ... the two don't quite meet. More...