If you are heading to Death Valley National Park this year you’re probably wondering what there is to do and see there, right?
I was the same before my visit thinking that it would be nothing more than a large, flat, open wasteland of desert with little to see or keep me entertained. I pictured my days driving around horizon-led roads, tumbleweeds rolling in the wind and trying to escape the 40 degrees C heat. Oh, how wrong I was!
Death Valley might be the desert that you expect it to be (and it is 40 degrees C!!) however formed over thousands of years the geology in the National Park is certainly something that will keep you interested.
Some of the key highlights include the Badwater Basin salt flats, Dante’s View and Artist’s Drive however one of our favourite locations due to the sheer scale and unusual nature of the formations is the Devil’s Golf Course.
How to get to the Devils Golf Course
The Devil’s Golf Course is located on Salt Pool Road which is just off of Badwater Road; around halfway between Furnace Creek and Badwater. It’s really accessible and fully sign-post so you won’t have any problems finding it.
You will turn off the beautifully smooth tarmac Badwater Road and head down an uneven and stony road. Stones and dust flick up a lot here so drive slowly to avoid causing damage to the paintwork on your car! There are also the occasional giant rocks in the middle of the road and let’s be honest, a puncture in the desert really is the last thing you want to happen to you so take things slowly here.
Assuming other people have made the trip, when you get about half way down this road you’ll start to see a few cars come into view on the left which is where the road ends and the Devil’s Golf Course can be explored. Take a look at the photo below and you should be able to spot a few cars in the left of the photo. In Death Valley there are very few points of reference so a road that doesn’t seem that long can in fact be a considerable distance – in the photo below the route to the parking area is around half a mile!
Devil’s Golf Course
Once you have parked up you’ll need to pluck up the courage to leave the comfort of your air conditioning and expose yourself to the dry desert heat. The landscape here stretches to the horizon and is extremely unique and certainly nothing like you would expect or will have likely ever seen before.
Named the Devil’s Golf Course as “only the devil could play golf here”, you’ll quickly see the reason why! The formations here are made of crystallised salt and are what is left of an ancient lake bed. Give yourself around 20 minutes to explore the area and see the various formations that exist.
Now something that I can’t stress enough is that if you decide to venture out onto the crystallised formations PLEASE be careful, especially if you have children. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in no way the fun police(!) as I certainly ventured out onto the rocks myself around 50m however be warned that these salt formations are razor sharp and incredibly uneven so choose your walking route carefully! It is really easy to lose your footing and stumble between 2 sharp rocks which will take no effort cutting your ankles/shins or worse, getting your leg stuck which could result into a broken bone.
To give you an idea of how large some of the salt deposits in the above photos were, in many places the gaps between each one were around half a metre in depth.
How was the Devil’s Golf Course formed?
At Devil’s Golf Course there really isn’t much to do except explore everything for yourself. There is however a single information board which outlines how the formations came to be.
Crystallised salts compose the jagged formations of this forbidding landscape. Desposited by ancient salt lakes and shaped by winds and rain, the crystals are forever changing.
Listen carefully. On a warm day you may hear a metallic cracking sound as the salt pinnacles expand and contract.
The Death Valley saltpan is one of the largest protected saltpans in North America. Salt continues to be deposited by recurring floods that occasionally submerge the lowest parts of the valley floor.
Delicate salt formations are hidden among the harsh and rigid spires. Close inspect may reveal the tiny salt structures. Take care – one curious touch can cause them to crumble.
Devil’s Golf Course Review
Death Valley National Park has many areas of interest however as a desert there are very few things to actually ‘do’. Heading here is more a case of taking in the dramatic landscapes and appreciating the unique geology the surrounds you.
The Devil’s Golf Course was not like anything I had seen or experienced before so it was really interesting to visit something that was so different. As it is so accessible and en-route to the Badwater salt flats where you’ll no doubt be wanting to visit anyway it’s absolutely worth taking the time to visit this site in the national park.
I loved it, appreciated it and believe you will too. Just remember to pack your sun-cream and shin pads!
Are you heading to Death Valley National Park this year and looking to explore the Devil’s Golf Course? We’d love to hear your plans, let us know in the comments!