Badwater Basin

An expansive salt flat, devoid of obvious life, with distant desert mountains.
Badwater Basin is home to the lowest point in North America.

NPS photo

Quick Facts

Death Valley National Park.
Lowest point in North America.
Mostly wilderness.

The lowest point in North America is a surreal landscape of vast salt flats. The basin sits 282 feet (86 m) below sea level where a temporary lake may form after heavy rainstorms.

Rock Bottom
As the lowest point in North America, Death Valley belongs to a world-wide geographic rogues’ gallery, whose members share these defining features:

  • To have exposed land below sea level, an extremely dry climate is necessary. In wet climates, low places fill with water and overflow to the sea. A dry climate evaporates water, leaving behind salt flats or briny lakes.
  • Like most of these locations, Death Valley was not created by a river’s erosionMovements in the earth’s crust have dropped it to such great depths.

Below Sea Level 
Sea level is the average elevation of the world’s ocean surface and is the standard from which all other elevations are measured. Regardless of tides, “sea level” remains constant.

Last updated: June 7, 2019