Heavy Rainfall Creates Large Boat-Worthy Lake in Death Valley

Mar 1, 2024

Death Valley is seeing a freakish turn of nature caused by climate change. The hottest, driest desert in the US is now home to a large lake deep enough to kayak in. Thousands are flocking to the site to enjoy some short-lived fun.    

“This is the first time I’ve ever kayaked in my life and to say I did it in Death Valley is hilarious,” 73-year-old Pat Anderson told The Wall Street Journal. She said she’d driven nearly 300 miles from Hurricane, Utah, to take part in the rare event.  

Since August, Death Valley has been swamped by more rain than it normally receives in a year. This started with a rare Pacific Ocean hurricane, and then two atmospheric rivers followed. Each of the latter dumped a year’s worth of water on the desert in under a month.  

The result is a lake that's six miles long and three miles wide. It sits atop the salty flats of Badwater Basin. At 282 feet below sea level, the basin is the lowest point in North America. It was once home to a giant lake that ran 600 feet deep 180,000 years ago.   

Aside from giving visitors a new form of Death Valley fun, the lake offers stunning views of snow-capped mountains reflected on its surface.  

Sadly for fans of the revived “Lake Manly,” it’s going to vanish through evaporation. But that's likely not for at least a few weeks. The salt flat beneath the water is slowing down the process, officials say.  

“To have as much water as we have now – and for it to be as deep and lasting ... as it has – this is extremely uncommon,” park ranger Nichole Andler told The Associated Press. “If it’s not once-in-a-lifetime, it’s nearly.”    

Reflect: In your opinion, what are the most beautiful places on Earth?

Photo courtesy @deathvalleynps on Instagram.

Which of the following details best explains why the existence of “Lake Manly” in Badwater Basin is so unusual? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
a. It sits in a location that was once home to a giant lake that was 600 feet deep.
b. It sits atop a salt flat.
c. It sits in the hottest, driest desert in the US.
d. It cannot be explained how it formed.
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