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Birding Around Badwater
Birding Around Las Vegas, Death Valley National Park


With few exceptions, the overwhelming impression one gets of the floor of Death Valley is that the land is extremely hot, dry, and unencumbered by the burden of dirt and vegetation. To most birds, the entire area probably looks barren. Badwater, a pool of salty water between a white expanse of salt to the west and the foot of the Black Mountains to the east, is no exception.

This isn't really the best place to bird, but it is a wild place to visit. The scenery is stark and beautiful, and this is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere (282 feet below sea level). Walk on the white expanse of nearly pure table salt; check the hot, salty water for bugs; and watch the cliffs above the road for birds.

The salty pool at Badwater (view north).


Badwater is located in the southern end of Death Valley National Park, about 17 miles south of Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

From Las Vegas, drive northwest for about 2.5 hours to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (Table 1, Site 712) in Death Valley National Park. From the Visitor Center, drive south on Highway 190 for about 1 mile to Highway 178 (Site 741). Turn right onto Highway 178 and drive south along the east edge of Death Valley for about 17 miles to Badwater (Site 714). Watch for the signs, parking area, and restrooms.

Check the water for aquatic animals, including a rare snails


The park is always open, but Badwater should be considered a day-use area.


After getting into the park, there are no additional fees.


Badwater is so bleak and barren that it is not a good place for finding birds, but any bird that can live here is worth seeing! Check the edge of the salt pool and the hillside above the road. The potential species mix depends on the season, and during migration it depends on just who is moving through at the time. Review the park bird list for some ideas on what to expect during the time of year when you will be visiting.

Badwater boardwalk
The Badwater boardwalk protects the springpool from trampling
Evening walk on the Badwater salt crust (view NW)
Badwater more to come ...

Table 1. GPS Coordinates for Highway Locations (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site # Location Latitude (°N) Longitude (°W) UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (feet) Verified
0712 Death Valley Visitor Center 36.4616 116.8657 512030 4034954 -186 Yes
0714 Badwater parking area 36.2298 116.7664 520995 4009262 -280 Yes
0741 Highway 190 at Badwater Road 36.4485 116.852 513267 4033503 5 Yes

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
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