Good Life in Badwater
Water is rare and precious in Death Valley. Imagine the
disappointment when a surveyor mapping this area could not get his
mule to drink from this pool. He wrote on his map that the
spring had "bad water," and the name stuck.
Badwater Pool is not poisonous, just salty, as the presence of
pickleweed, aquatic insects, and larvae proves. It is also home to
one of Death Valley's rarest animals -- the Badwater Snail. These
tiny mollusks exist only in a few springs at the edge of Death
Valley salt flats. To protect these creatures, please view the pool
only from the boardwalk.
Ancient water fills this pool year-round. Much of it began as Ice
Age snow and rain hundreds of miles away in the mountains of
central Nevada. The runoff seeped into porous limestone bedrock
and began a long underground flow through a regional
aquifer. It emerges here at Badwater along the faultline at the
mountain's base. Salts dissolve from old deposits and flow to
the surface, making the spring water "bad."
The area around Badwater Pool has seen better days, as shown
by this photo from the 1930s. Curious visitors have trampled
the salt crust and thrown debris in the water. By viewing the
pool only from the boardwalk, you can protect its inhabitants
and help this area recover.