At 282′ (85.5 m) below sea level, Badwater in Death Valley National Park is the lowest place on earth. Shown above, the salt flat at Badwater stretches into the distance, so there’s a big area that’s below sea level.
Erosion fills in low places by washing dirt from high places to low places. But Death Valley is so dry that there’s little erosion to wash soil to the bottom of the valley. Plate tectonics and faults in the earth’s crust cause Death Valley to sink faster than erosion fills in the valley.
A white sign halfway up the hill marks sea level.
After looking at wildflowers at the south end of the Badwater Road, we headed north and stopped at Badwater. Rainwater and runoff collects at the lowest point, but the water evaporates quickly due to the dry, hot climate, leaving white salt flats and briny ponds.