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Rare Kayaking Opportunity Emerges In Death Valley's Temporary Lake Amid Record Rainfall

Death Valley National Park in California has become an unexpected destination for kayaking enthusiasts. Thanks to an extraordinary influx of rain, Badwater Basin, typically a bone-dry salt flat, has transformed into a temporary lake, offering a unique opportunity for visitors to paddle through the desert landscape.

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Death Valley National Park in California, renowned as the driest location in the United States, has transformed into an unexpected kayaking destination. The National Park Service (NPS) revealed in a recent news release that excessive rainfall has created a temporary lake in the usually arid Badwater Basin, offering visitors a unique aquatic adventure.

Badwater Basin, nestled at the lowest elevation point in North America, typically exists as a parched salt flat. However, recent precipitation has altered its landscape, providing an extraordinary opportunity for kayaking enthusiasts. Park ranger Abby Wines commented, “You might think with no drain to the sea, that Death Valley would always have a lake. But this is an extremely rare event."

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Death Valley National Park, accustomed to an annual average rainfall of merely 2 inches, has experienced a substantial influx of water over the past six months, receiving 4.9 inches. The catalyst for this transformation came primarily from two significant weather events: remnants of Hurricane Hilary in August 2023, and an atmospheric river in February 2024.

Following Hurricane Hilary, the lake was initially deep enough for kayaking, but access was hindered due to road damage caused by flash floods. Now, with most main roads reopened, visitors are encouraged to seize the opportunity to explore this ephemeral spectacle.

Informally dubbed Lake Manly, the transient pool spans approximately 6 miles in length, 3 miles in width, and maintains a depth of just 1 foot. Although the window for kayaking may be limited to a couple of weeks, park rangers anticipate that the shallow lake will continue to offer captivating reflections through April.

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While the allure of kayaking beckons adventurers, the NPS underscores the importance of respecting park regulations and minimizing environmental impact. Visitors are advised to exercise caution, as some secondary and backcountry roads remain closed. Additionally, guests are urged to bring their own kayaks and adhere to guidelines for preserving the delicate desert ecosystem.

Despite the absence of a sprawling wildflower bloom following the rain, Death Valley continues to enchant with scattered blossoms in Panamint Valley and Ubehebe Crater. As the typical wildflower season approaches from late February to mid-April, enthusiasts remain hopeful for further sightings.

Furthermore, for those drawn by celestial wonders, Death Valley National Park will host its annual Dark Sky Festival from March 1 to March 3, promising unparalleled opportunities for stargazing.

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