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.
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 erosion. Movements 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.