You can kayak in Death Valley National Park.

by Alice

Amidst its reputation for scorching temperatures, Death Valley National Park is currently capturing attention for an extraordinary phenomenon – copious rainfall. This unexpected turn of events has led to the formation of a temporary lake within the renowned Saltwater Basin, offering a rare opportunity for kayaking enthusiasts.

Park ranger Abby Wines shed light on this extraordinary occurrence, emphasizing its rarity. “You might think with no drain to the sea, that Death Valley would always have a lake,” she shared on the park’s website. “But this is an extremely rare event. Normally the amount of water flowing in is much less than the evaporation rate.”


Recent data from local news outlet KTLA indicates that California experienced a staggering 12.56 inches of rainfall in February alone, marking it as the fourth wettest February on record for the state. This deluge of rainwater found its way to Death Valley, nestled along the California-Nevada border, eventually filling the Badwater Basin – a geographical marvel situated at a depth of 282 feet below sea level, making it the lowest point in North America.


According to the National Parks Service (NPS), Death Valley typically receives a mere two inches of precipitation annually. However, an unprecedented five inches of rainfall has been recorded in the park over the past six months, including 1.5 inches during a potent storm from February 4th to 7th, ultimately resulting in the lake’s formation, now suitable for kayaking excursions.


Park ranger Abby Wines reminisced about a previous opportunity for kayaking in the wake of Hurricane Hilary, albeit inaccessible due to road damage caused by flash floods. However, with the majority of the main roads now reopened, visitors are encouraged to seize the moment and explore the ephemeral Lake Manly with their own kayaks.

Lake Manly, currently holding approximately one foot of water, is expected to retain its current state for only a brief period. As such, the park extends a warm invitation to visitors to bring their kayaks and embark on a memorable aquatic adventure.

For those planning to paddle in the park, it’s essential to come prepared with personal kayaking gear, as the park does not provide rental services. Additionally, visitors are advised to rinse off salt residue from their equipment and themselves after the experience. Conservation remains paramount, with officials urging visitors to adhere to marked trails and designated parking areas to minimize environmental impact.

With most campgrounds now open, visitors are encouraged to secure reservations and extend their stay to fully appreciate the unique opportunity to witness and explore Lake Manly before bidding farewell to this transient marvel.



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