"We are fully embracing our water era" – unbelievable new shots show people playing in Death Valley's temporary lake

ourists enjoy the rare opportunity to walk in water as they visit Badwater Basin, the normally driest place in the US
Badwater Basin's newly formed lake is sticking around, and people are here for it (Image credit: DAVID SWANSON / Contributor)

Nearly five inches of rainfall in Death Valley National Park over the past six months has resulted in a rare and spectacular event: a natural lake has formed in the area of Badwater Basin and for once, visitors to the park are more likely to pack their water shoes than their hiking boots.

New photos of the park, which you can view below, show visitors making the most of these unique conditions, which have seen people paddling and kayaking in the waters. One shot even shows camping chairs and a beach umbrella set up as people make the most of the new scenery, which now delivers sparkling reflections of the surrounding mountains.

Normally the driest place in the US, Death Valley usually receives only two inches of rain per year. Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level. In typical conditions, the area is an immense salt flat, but with more than double the usual rainfall in half the amount of time, the area has been transformed in a temporary lake. 

Known as Lake Manley, the lake first formed six months ago after Hurricane Hilary and has been bolstered by the recent atmospheric rivers that brought unusual amounts of precipitation to California.

"After reviewing the feedback, we decided to keep the lake on Badwater Basin. You all seem to really like it, and honestly after the recent rain we had no choice. We are fully embracing our water era," writes the National Parks Service on Facebook.

Officials believe the lake may only be deep enough for activities like kayaking for a couple of weeks, but hope the waters will remain through April.

Julia Clarke

Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.