National park tips: This California valley gets you lower than the Grand Canyon

Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley and North America.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

When you make that road trip to Death Valley National Park, don’t just drive to Badwater, which is famed for being the lowest point in North America.

Try to get there at sunrise or sunset, when the dramatic light all but transforms the landscape into a sci-fi set. Then hike a few hundred yards out onto the salty flats, then look up at the east canyon wall for the white sign about 282 feet above you.

That’s sea level.

(The bottom of the Grand Canyon? About 2,000 to 2,400 feet above sea level, depending where you measure.)


In honor of this year’s National Park Service centennial, the Travel section is posting 100 park travel ideas and tips based on trips staff travel writer Christopher Reynolds has taken, along with photo-op advice from Times photographer Mark Boster. We’ll post one per day through Dec. 31.

Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds

See travel videos by Reynolds from around the world.