Salt Creek is an interesting environmental study area in Death Valley National Park that is fairly easy to access. Salt Creek is pretty much crusted over with salt during the hot summer months and the water cannot be seen, because this small stream actually flows underground beneath the salt crust.
Salt Creek is famous for being a breeding ground for Pupfish. Pupfish have actually been around since the age of the dinosaurs. Pupfish are one of the few fish that have adapted to very high saline content water and high water temperatures, so they are right at home in Death Valley!
There is plenty of wildlife to see at Salt Creek in the morning hours. Even though the water is salty, wildlife is attracted to the area because there is some lush green growth by the underground creek bed. It is about a half mile hike to get to Salt Creek from the parking area and the path runs through a storm wash that is filled with tufts of green growth. This is a good area to spot roadrunners and desert partridge early in the morning.The views of the surrounding dunes leading to Salt Creek are interesting too.
Salt Creek is located just a few miles north of Furnace Creek on Highway 190 in Death Valley. Salt Creek is near the Mesquite Dunes and the Devil’s Cornfield, so all three destinations can be experienced in one visit. Since all three of these Death Valley features are ecologically interconnected, visiting all three will help visitors gain insight into the environmental system that supports life in this inhospitable place.
Hiking in the Death Valley summertime extreme heat is not recommended, but some people like to earn the bragging rights. On the day that I visited Salt Creek in July, the temperature was already over 120ºF by 10:00AM, so it goes without saying that winter is the best time of year for taking on the trails in this desolate region. Even with comfortably cool winter temperatures, staying hydrated is still a must to do.
The extreme heat can also affect digital cameras, especially the budget friendly pocket cameras. The camera I used that day actually died by the end of the short tour and many blurry photos had to be discarded. My apologies are offered for the photos not being up to snuff, but this was an unexpected technical issue.
Salt Creek is a roadside attraction in Death Valley that is well worth checking out! How the tiny fish from the age of the dinosaurs picked this place to survive over eons of time is anybody’s guess. The unique Death Valley features like Salt Creek certainly will provide memories to ponder over for a lifetime!
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