Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Saturday, April 20th, 2024

Breaking News for

Sportsmen Since 1967

Kayakers flocking to what is normally a dry desert region in California’s Death Valley National Park

The author, Jane Beathard at Badwater Basin. Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level – one of the lowest places in the world. (Contributed photo)

Who would think there would be boating in California’s Death Valley National Park?

The park is the largest national park in the continental U.S. and encompasses a spot called Badwater Basin, a lonely outpost which is 282 feet below sea level – one of the lowest places in the world. 

It is also one of the driest places in North America. Badwater’s annual two inches of rainfall generally evaporates before it hits the ground.

But thanks to Hurricane Hillary last August and the onslaught of “atmospheric rivers” that have hit California over and over this winter, Badwater is no longer dry. It has had nearly five inches of rain in the past six months.

For the moment, it is home to a small lake and paddlers have taken note of the rarity.

The lake (actually named Lake Manly for historic reasons) is not exactly a Lake Erie. It is six miles long, three miles wide, and about a foot deep.

That is deep enough for a kayak. And kayakers have been rushing there to take advantage of the opportunity to say they have boated the normally dry expanse that is Death Valley. Their adventures are documented on various social media sites.


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I have been to Badwater numerous times. It’s a spot I like to take guests who visit me at my vacation home in Las Vegas – just so they can say they’ve been to such a unique natural spot. The park is only about a two-hour drive west of the city.

I can’t imagine what kayaking there must be like. I am not a fan of that kind of boating, but it would be fun to say you took advantage of this rare, watery event.

Chances are there won’t be time to set up a kayak rental at Badwater. Park rangers say the lake is likely to evaporate to the point boating won’t be viable by mid-March. However, some of the water may actually stick around until April. 

Of course, all that depends on whether or not additional “atmospheric rivers” come ashore in the Golden State.

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