High winds dry up Death Valley lake, end desert kayaking

By Rebekah Alvey | 03/05/2024 01:15 PM EST

The National Park Service will no longer permit kayaking at Death Valley National Park, saying “Lake Manly” is now too shallow and muddy.

Photo taken March 4, 2024 from Dantes View looking down at Badwater Basin. "Lake Manly" has returned to the pre-wind location, but is now very brown due to mud.

The temporary lake in Death Valley National Park called "Lake Manly" as seen in a Monday photo from Dantes View looking down at Badwater Basin. High winds in California shrunk the lake, which is now very muddy. John Hallett/National Park Service

Visitors can no longer kayak in Death Valley National Park after high winds pushed the temporary lake 2 miles north and sped up evaporation.

A record amount of rainfall in the hottest and driest place in the United States earlier this year briefly offered visitors the rare opportunity to kayak in what the National Park Service calls “Lake Manly” in the Badwater Basin at the base of the California valley.

Between Feb. 29 and March 2, 40 mph winds moved the water for 2 miles and spread the lake’s surface area. After the winds died down and the water flowed back to the original lake bed, NPS said what remained was more shallow and muddy.


Due to these updated conditions, NPS has ended kayaking on the lake. Walking through the mud for boating would leave footprints or boat drag marks in the mud flat, which would remain as “scars” on the landscape until the next high rainfall event.