The Devil’s Golf Course: The Large Salt Pan in Death Valley

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Welcome, trivia enthusiasts! In this edition, we’re delving into the mysterious and awe-inspiring domain of Death Valley National Park. Situated in the Mojave Desert, this iconic location is a treasure trove of fascinating landmarks, unique geological formations, and hauntingly beautiful vistas.

As we explore, we’ll uncover the captivating stories behind the questions and answers, shedding light on the enigmatic features that make this region so renowned among adventurers and nature lovers alike.

The Devil’s Golf Course: A Salty Marvel

The large salt pan in Death Valley is none other than the famous Devil’s Golf Course. This unique attraction is a sight to behold, featuring a vast expanse of intricately textured salt formations.

The Devil’s Golf Course earned its name from a guidebook in the 1930s, which humorously stated that only the devil could play golf on such a rough surface. The compacted halite salt crystals create a jagged landscape that is inhospitable to most forms of life, resembling a barren alien terrain.

Formation and Geology

This otherworldly phenomenon formed as a result of the evaporation of an ancient lake that once covered Death Valley. As the water receded, it left behind an immense deposit of salts and minerals. Over time, the relentless cycles of flooding and drying transformed the salt into the striking formations we see today.

The hexagonal shapes and sharp edges of the salt crystals create a treacherous terrain, with ridges and spires reaching heights of up to two feet. The entire area is a captivating display of nature’s artistry, with the elements constantly reshaping the landscape.

Visitor Experience

Visitors to the Devil’s Golf Course can explore the area on foot, but caution is advised due to the sharp nature of the salt formations. The stunning vistas and surreal textures make it a prime spot for photography enthusiasts. The ominous silence punctuated only by the occasional creaking of the salt crust underfoot adds to the eerie allure of this natural wonder.

Be sure to bring plenty of water, as the arid desert climate can be unforgiving. The site serves as a reminder of the stark beauty and harsh realities of Death Valley, offering a poignant contrast to the nearby vibrant wildflower blooms and the towering peaks of the Panamint Range.


Salt Flats

Many people mistakenly believe that the large salt pan in Death Valley is called the ‘Salt Flats.’ However, this is not the correct name for the area. The name ‘The Devil’s Golf Course’ comes from a line in a National Park Service guidebook, which states, ‘Only the devil could play golf’ on its surface due to the rough texture of the crystallized salt. So, while the vast expanse of salt might resemble a flat area, it is not officially referred to as the ‘Salt Flats.’

Saline Valley

Some might mistakenly assume that the large salt pan is called ‘Saline Valley.’ However, Saline Valley is actually a separate valley located to the west of Death Valley, known for its remote hot springs. The Devil’s Golf Course, on the other hand, is a unique expanse within Death Valley National Park, with its own distinct name and characteristics.

Salt Creek

Another common misconception is that the large salt pan in Death Valley is referred to as ‘Salt Creek.’ It’s worth noting that Salt Creek is, indeed, a notable feature in Death Valley, known for its rare pupfish and seasonal water flow. However, it is not the same as the wide salt pan known as The Devil’s Golf Course. Visitors should be aware of the distinctions between these unique natural landmarks within the park.


So, the large salt pan in Death Valley is known as The Devil’s Golf Course. This otherworldly landscape is an intriguing feature of the national park, with its jagged salt formations and harsh, desolate beauty.

In conclusion, Death Valley National Park is home to several unique geographical wonders, and The Devil’s Golf Course is just one of them. Exploring the park’s diverse landscapes is a truly unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

Ready to test your knowledge further? Take the Death Valley National Park Trivia Quiz to see how much more you know about this fascinating location!

Professor Leonard Whitman