On my very first trip to Death Valley, I was with Dave Pariani, Silva & Justin. Death Valley wasn't originally on our itinerary, but we had been driving back home from the Grand Canyon, kind of disappointed. We found Grand Canyon to be over crowded and not that exciting of a place. So we were looking on the map and decided to stop in Death Valley to see what it was all about, simply based on the name of the park. On that original trip, we visited Zabriskie Point, Furnace Creek, Devil's Golf Course & Badwater. Little did I know then that Death Valley would become my favorite national park and camping destination.

One of the things that stands out in my mind about Badwater, is that it has changed so much over the years. Looking through these pictures, you can see at least four different signs that have been posted there in the last ten years, identifying the location as Badwater. Also you can see that Badwater even used to be a picnic area. Some of the changes have been made by the park service to protect the area, whereas some have been made to eliminate confusion. One of the problems is that Badwater itself is not the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere. Badwater is actually only 280 feet below sea level. The actual lowest point (-282 feet) is located on Badwater Basin, but a few miles walk from the parking area out onto the salt flats, which can only be identified with a GPS. One of the cool features at Badwater is the Sea Level sign which appears up on the mountain, so you can compare how far below sea level you actually are.
The first three pictures highlight the mystery of the ever changing Badwater sign.  At this first version, Geo and Steve stand next to a sign which says "Badwater -282 ft.":
A couple years later, and another new sign.  This sign says the same thing as the last one, but it is of newer design:
And finally, Tiffany and Steve are standing by the current incarnation of the Badwater sign.  It has been changed once again and now says "Badwater Basin 282 feet below sea level".  The park service was probably getting too many questions about where -282 feet was, so they simply made a new sign with that number and used the phrase 'Badwater Basin' instead of 'Badwater' to make it accurate:
Badwater was once a picnic area, as this picture of Dave and Steve eating sandwiches attests to:
Usually you can photograph this beautiful reflection of the Amargosa Range in the Badwater pond if you are there at the right time of day:
A look back at the new design of the Badwater parking area and staircase from the white salt trail leading out onto the basin:
This sea level sign was placed up on a nearby slope to help you appreciate what it means to be 280 below sea level:
The Badwater Snail lives in the pond and is very rare.  That's one reason the pond was probably fenced off in recent years, to protect it:
Looking out from the small walkway which leads over to the interpretive sign and overlooks the southern end of the pond:
A rare view of the sign and white salt trail without dozens of people in the picture:
A nice view of the twin walkways leading out to the edge of the Badwater Pool:
A typical day at Badwater, walking out onto the salt flats with a large amount of tourists:
This is about as far out as most people go, and really, if you don't have a GPS or destination in mind, this is far enough:
Anthony, Silva, Steve, and Dave near Badwater:
I'm not sure if this is still here, but at one time there was a small weather station just south of Badwater.  We joined a guided ranger walk out to see it:
The largest group we have ever had at Badwater- 13 of us:
We ended our day of touring at Badwater one day and got this beautiful sunset over the Panamints photo:
This last photo was one that we did not take, but we thought was appropriate to include.  It was taken at Badwater in April of 2005.  The great rains that Spring caused the Badwater Basin to become a lake and one morning Badwater Nessie appeared:
Return to Home