Devils Golf Course, Death Valley
The Devil's Golf Course is a large salt pan on the floor of Death Valley. The name was coined after a line in the 1934 National Park Service guide book which read "Only the devil could play golf" on its surface, due to a rough texture from the large halite salt formations. Put your ear toward the ground and listen carefully and you'll hear sounds like tiny pops and pings. This is the sound of literally billions of tiny salt crystals bursting apart as they expand and contract in the heat.
About 150,000 years ago the present day salt pan was once covered by Lake Manly up to a depth of 600 feet. The salt in the Devil's Golf Course consists of the minerals that were dissolved in the lake's water and left behind when the lake evaporated during the last ice age about 10,000 years ago. For a brief period during the Holocene (2,000 to 4,000 years ago) the climate again became wetter and another shallow lake with a depth of 30 feet formed primarily from snow in the surrounding mountains and the drainage of the Amargosa River. The climate warmed again, rainfall declined, and the shallow lakes began to dry up. As water evaporated, dissolved minerals in the lake became increasingly concentrated leaving a thick salty brine on the lowest parts of the valley floor.
Unlike Badwater that periodically floods, then dries, Devil's Golf Course lies in a part of the salt pan that is several feet above flood level. Without the smoothing effects of flood waters, the salt at Devil's Golf Course grows into intricate razor sharp pinnacles. These pinnacles form from salty water rising up from beneath the surface. Capillary action draws the water upward where it quickly evaporates, leaving the salty formations behind. These formations grow very slowly, perhaps as little as an inch in 35 years. Wind and rain continually reshape these mineral spires into fascinating shapes that look like coral reefs and go on for as far as one can see.
Through exploratory drilling by the Pacific Coast Borax Company, 1934, it was discovered that the salt and gravel beds of the Devil's Golf Course can have a depth of more than 1,000 feet.
You can reach Devil's Golf Course by way of Badwater Road 13 miles south of Furnace Creek. The 1.3 mile unpaved access road is typically passable to sedans and mid sized RV’s except during periods of wet weather.