Natural History

Top 10 Most Extreme Places in North America

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Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park, the lowest spot in North America.
Frans Lanting/Corbis

North America's Lowest Place


Badwater Basin, in Death Valley National Park, is the lowest place in North America and one of the lowest places in the world at 282 feet (86 m) below sea level. This elevation is the result of geological forces that began stretching the western margin of North America about 16 million years ago and eventually deformed the Death Valley area into an alternating series of trough-like basins and towering ranges.

For the record, the Dead Sea, between Israel and Jordan, is the lowest spot on Earth at 1,371 feet (418 m) below sea level.

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