It may be hard to imagine now, but 10,000 or so years ago, Death Valley was a cool, wet place, covered by a lake that was nearly 600 feet deep. When that lake dried up, it left a salty, cracked surface. And there’s no spot on that dry lakebed that’s more foreboding than Devil’s Golf Course, a place so unwelcoming that “only the devil could play golf on such rough links.”
Devil’s Golf Course is located along the west side of Badwater Road, just north of Badwater Basin. A short dirt side-road provides access to a parking area.
I made a quick stop at Devil’s Golf Course, I was hoping to find a nice place to watch the setting sun light up the Amargosa Mountains. But, I didn’t find the landscape I was expecting. You see, the last time I was here, Devil’s Golf Course looked like this:
That was in 2005, following a particularly rainy season. Parts of the valley floor had flooded, creating a modern incarnation of the ancient Lake Manly. The reflections in the thin layer of water were beautiful. And even though the months prior to my visit in 2016 had also been quite rainy…
… Devil’s Golf Course was looking more like it normally does. This area of the desert floor is especially jagged. The ancient lake bed is covered with sharp salty formations that could easily slice your hands and legs, if you were to lose your balance.
The area is interesting, and late in the day you will find a nice view of the mountains to the east (and presumably, early in the day, the mountains to the west would look quite nice). But, I hoped to find a better place to watch the sunset, so I headed up to Artists Drive for the final moments of daylight.
You don’t need to prioritize Devil’s Golf Course during your visit to Death Valley, but if you have time, it’s worth the short detour to see it. If you venture out onto the lumpy, salty surface, be very careful to avoid all of those sharp edges.
Here’s a look at the time-lapse video of the drive up Badwater Road: