On our third day in Death Valley, we needed to adjust our morning schedule a bit to accommodate a work call Brian had scheduled. Because we’re self-employed, we can work from anywhere, and while we don’t usually do any design or development work while traveling, occasionally we take a phone call, answer emails, or check in on projects in Basecamp.
Brian’s call was at 9:00 am, so we decided to once again get up early and do a few of short hikes and activities that are close to the hotel beforehand, including the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, the Harmony Borax Works ruins, the Borax Museum, and Mustard Canyon.
Salt Creek Interpretive Trail
While Death Valley is one of the hottest, driest places in the United States, seasonal Salt Creek is one of the wettest places in Death Valley. Sitting nearly 200 feet below sea level, where the water salinity is higher than the ocean, Salt Creek provides habitat for a variety of flora and fauna. It is also home to the rare Salt Creek Pupfish, which is found nowhere else in the world.
As you leisurely walk the easy, flat wooden boardwalk of the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, you’ll be surrounded by flowing salt water, patches of salt, lush green vegetation, and even some flowers! Benches and interpretive signs are located along the trail, describing the life of the Pupfish and the variety of plants found in this desert environment.
We walked the trail as the sun was rising and the soft, early sun poured over the Salt Creek area, adding a gorgeous golden glow to the creek bed. Because it was so early, we were also the only people on the trail for most of our walk.
Getting complete privacy and quiet in such spectacular places is one of the reasons we always get up so early while traveling.
Know Before You Go
- The Salt Creek Interpretive Trail is located at the end of unpaved Salt Creek Road, 13 miles west of Furnace Creek on CA-190 in Death Valley National Park, California.
- The easy, half-mile trail is an ADA-accessible loop trail on a wooden boardwalk that passes over desert sand along the spring-fed Salt Creek, home to rare pupfish.
- The boardwalk is open year round, but the water flows in the boardwalk area only from November through May. The best time to visit is during the Spring when the Salt Creek Pupfish are in spawn.
- Interpretive signs along the boardwalk trail explain pupfish behavior, their adaptations, and how they relate to other pupfish around the Mojave Desert.
- Vault toilets are located in the gravel parking area at the trailhead.
- Dogs and pets are not allowed.