Would it be legal to land a light plane in the Badwater Basin salt flats in Death Valley National Park?

Let me add that you can obviously land in the park, as you have runways at both Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells. So another way of asking is simply: do you have to have an official runway to land? Obviously, you would need to stay >= 500 feet from people, but people don't typically wander too far from the parking lot and that's a big area. Staying away from people wouldn't be too difficult, especially in July or August when there's basically no one in Death Valley.

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    $\begingroup$ Related $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ How far is Badwater Basin from Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells? I don't see it called out on a sectional at Skyvector.com. $\endgroup$
    – CrossRoads
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ Badwater Basin is about 14 miles south of Furnace Creek, although I think it stretches north/south for several miles. It's a big salt flat. $\endgroup$
    – birdus
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 21:44

1 Answer 1


https://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/management/rules-and-regulations.htm says you would have to have special permission.


  • (a)(1) The use of aircraft on lands or waters within the park other than at locations designated by special regulations is prohibited. Death Valley’s special regulations at 36 CFR 7.26(e) authorizes the use of aircraft only at the following locations:

    • Death Valley Airport, latitude N 36°27’50”, longitude W 116°52’50”, commonly known as the Furnace Creek Airport.
    • Stovepipe Wells Airport, latitude N 36°36’15”, longitude W 117°09’30”.
    • The Saline Valley Warm Springs Airfield, latitude N 36° 48.41”, longitude W 117° 46.90”, commonly known as the Chicken Strip, is open pending special regulation.

The landing of aircraft at locations other than those listed above, such as for wildlife research, is permitted only under conditions of a permit issued by the superintendent.

Aircraft have a significant potential for impacting park resources and human safety. By requiring permits for these activities, the superintendent can manage these activities and mitigate negative impacts.

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    $\begingroup$ "Aircraft have a significant potential for impacting park resources and human safety." The superintendent doesn't want you to crash your plane into stuff. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 14:42

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