Salt Creek

A winding wooden boardwalk parallels a small creek surrounded by low green desert plants.
Water flows in Salt Creek during the cooler months.

NPS/ Jason Gray

Quick Facts
Death Valley National Park
Interpretive Trail

Benches/Seating, Historical/Interpretive Information/Exhibits, Parking - Auto, Parking - Bus/RV, Scenic View/Photo Spot, Toilet - Vault/Composting, Trailhead, Wheelchair Accessible

This area was severely impacted by flooding in summer 2022 and may be closed until fall 2023. Flooding changed the creek bed, destroyed the boardwalk and damaged the toilet.

Rare water in the desert leads to an abundance of life.

Those who visit Salt Creek during the summer witness a dry landscape with brittle plant life, but a return visit in the winter is an entirely different experience. When the air temperature drops, flowing water returns to the dry bed of Salt Creek. Pickleweed plants growing along the banks thirstily suck up this life-bringing water, birds can be seen in the shallows, and macroinvertebrates crawl and swim under the surface. Perhaps most exciting of all is the return of the Salt Creek Pupfish- small blue fish which dart in and out of the underwater vegetation.  
Salt Creek pupfish are specifically adapted to the unique habitat of Salt Creek and can tolerate salt concentrations several times that of sea water. They take advantage of the cooler winter months to spawn, then as summer approaches, must retreat up the creek toward its spring-fed source to avoid perishing in the drying pools. Pupfish earned their name from the lively behavior they display during spawning, which some people liken to playful puppies.

Located approximately 15 minutes west of Furnace Creek Visitor Center, off CA 190, Salt Creek is a unique haven in an arid environment. Here, visitors can view the pupfish and other species which rely on the water of the creek from a wooden ADA-accessible boardwalk which crisscrosses the creek. The boardwalk is a 0.5 mile (0.8 km) signed interpretive trail with information and benches along the way. Please be respectful of this VERY FRAGILE environment, and do not step off the boardwalk.  


Round Trip Length: 0.5 miles (0.8 km)
Round Trip Time: 30 minutes  
Difficulty: Easy 
Elevation Gain: none-flat
Trail Type: ADA accessible wooden boardwalk loop
Location: Unpaved Salt Creek Road located 13 miles (20km) west of Furnace Creek off CA-190.
Parking: Open gravel parking area large enough for RVs and buses  
Closest Restroom: Vault toilet located in the parking lot 
Route: Boardwalk loop paralleling and crossing Salt Creek, with benches and interpretive signs. 

Death Valley National Park

Last updated: April 5, 2024