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Rare Kayaking Opportunity Emerges in Death Valley’s Badwater Basin Following Unprecedented Rainfall

Rare Kayaking Opportunity Emerges in Death Valley’s Badwater Basin Following Unprecedented Rainfall

Unforeseen Downpours 

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California’s recent deluge has brought visitors a rare and thrilling experience: kayaking in a place renowned for lacking water. The National Park Service documented this unusual occurrence within Death Valley National Park, a region traditionally recognized as the driest in the United States.

Basin Becomes Temporary Body of Water

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The improbable event occurred near Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park’s iconic landmark known for its salt flats which has undergone a dramatic transformation. This region, typically the lowest point in North America at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level, has been temporarily filled with water due to the recent and abundant rainfall.

Unprecedented Rainfall Events

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Park Ranger Abby Wines highlighted the unusual nature of this occurrence. Death Valley’s internal basin typically produces rapid evaporation exceeding any incoming water. The area usually receives only about two inches of rain annually. However, the past six months have significantly increased, with the valley floor receiving nearly five inches and even higher amounts recorded in the surrounding mountains.

Twin Weather Triggers

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Two significant weather events were responsible for the majority of this precipitation. The remnants of Hurricane Hilary on August 20, 2023, brought over two inches of rain, followed by a concentrated moisture influx event in early February, contributing an additional inch and a half.

Following the initial storm surge, water levels were high enough for kayaking activities. However, access was initially limited due to flash floods damaging park roads. It took several weeks to restore access through the first main route. Thankfully, most of the main roads are now operational. They allow visitors to explore the Badwater Basin directly from paved paths.

A Fleeting Aquatic Experience

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The temporary lake, unofficially nicknamed “Lake Manly,” is roughly six miles long and three miles wide and has a shallow depth of about a foot. While kayaking is expected to be a short-lived experience, park rangers believe the shallow waters will remain through April.

Preserving the Fragile Desert

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Visitors are asked to follow park regulations and minimize their impact on the desert’s delicate ecosystem. Due to limited parking, responsible parking and utilizing designated pathways are important to avoid damaging the lakeshore. Park accommodations, including lodging and most campsites, remain operational.

Planning Your Visit

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For those interested in kayaking, bringing your own equipment is a requirement, as rentals are unavailable within the park. Additionally, water is recommended to rinse off salt residue from gear or skin. 

Although the recent rainfall was substantial, widespread wildflower displays are uncertain, with only sporadic blooms reported in specific locations. The typical wildflower season generally occurs between late February and mid-April.

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The post Rare Kayaking Opportunity Emerges in Death Valley’s Badwater Basin Following Unprecedented Rainfall first appeared on The Green Voyage.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Anton Bondarev.


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