Barefoot through Badwater in Death Valley National Park

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Barefoot in the Middle of Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

Barefoot in the Middle of Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

Sometimes ya just have to kick off your shoes and go. That’s what my sister and I did over the weekend during a quick trip to Death Valley National Park and the salt flats of Badwater Basin.

A Couple Walks Barefoot through Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

A Couple Walks Barefoot through Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

Although I lived a year-and-a-half in the park I didn’t see much while there. I took for granted having all the time in the world to explore this starkly beautiful park with golden crinkled canyons, mountains painted with colors of the rainbow, and wispy sand dunes all accented with pockets of freakish geological formations.

Visitors at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

Visitors at Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

This very quick day trip from Las Vegas was an opportunity to appreciate what I hadn’t before. Walking barefoot over the salt flats of Badwater Basin, located 282 feet below sea level and the lowest elevation in North American, was an unplanned experience. Seeing others doing so I unlaced my shoes to add another sensory dimension to better appreciate the vast flats.

No! Didn't Walk Over these Salt Formations, Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

No! Didn’t Walk Over these Salt Formations, Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

With every step over the compacted salt flats I felt a slight dampness. My feet felt almost every jagged salt grain which reminded me of fine sand. Unlike sand, it didn’t stick very much but the highly compact areas were slippery.

Fresh Salt Crystals in Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

Fresh Salt Crystals in Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

Walking further over the compact flats the further we were from other visitors. We noticed fresh salt crystals (read about the salt flats and crystal formation here) looking like delicate little snowflakes. Rather than the sun, I suspect foot traffic will destroy them or perhaps Mother Nature will with a little rain or wind.

Can You Spot the "Sea Level" Sign? At Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

Can You Spot the “Sea Level” Sign? At Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park, Calif.

There was no tiptoeing through the tulips, just a casual amble while barefoot through Badwater Basin, yet it was a new sensory experience to appreciate this park I once called home.

What’s your favorite park (national, state or county) to go barefoot?

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Author: Solo Travel Girl

Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led Jennifer Huber, aka: Solo Travel Girl, to a career path in tourism. She has worked in the tourism industry for more than 20 years including 10 years with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley and Everglades National Park. She currently lives in Southwest Florida, and maintains this travel blog with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely.

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3 Comments

  1. Very cool, you have me curious how did you live there, or why? Were you working in the park? I have such whimpy feet, not sure I’d be able to walk barefoot there, looks like it would hurt?

    A-Z

  2. I walked barefoot on the salt flats yesterday at Death Valley. It felt like cool,damp clay. I have a strong need to feel the earth under my feet.

  3. That’s so wonderful, Karen! Thank you for sharing. There’s definitely something about feeling the earth under my feet.

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