Kayaking in Death Valley | God's World News

Kayaking in Death Valley

  • T1 23014
    A paddle boarder tows a child riding an inflatable unicorn on a temporary lake in Death Valley on February 23, 2024, in Death Valley National Park. (AP/Ty ONeil)
  • T2 33017
    Francesca Gambini, left, Cara Tan, center, and Alejandra Pulido laugh as they return to shore after trying to cross Lake Manly on foot on February 23, 2024, in Death Valley National Park. (AP/Ty ONeil)
  • T1 23014
  • T2 33017


You have {{ remainingArticles }} free {{ counterWords }} remaining.

The bad news: You've hit your limit of free articles.
The good news: You can receive full access below.
WORLDteen | Ages 11-14 | $35.88 per year

Already a member? Sign in.

Is this a mirage? Six months of record rain battered California’s Death Valley. Still, the sight of kayakers paddling in one of the driest places on Earth may have some folks wondering whether they’re seeing things.

Death Valley is at the northern end of the Mojave Desert. It lies about two hours west of Las Vegas and runs along part of Central California’s border with Nevada. The valley is dry in part because of extreme heat. Temperatures at or above 130º Fahrenheit have been recorded on Earth only a handful of times, mostly in Death Valley.

The park’s Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America. It’s a favored spot for tourists to visit and snap photos.

Park Ranger Nichole Andler says the basin “is normally a very beautiful, bright white salt flat.”

This year, it is a lake. Lake Manly has reformed.

In the past six months, Death Valley received more than double its usual annual rainfall amount. Scientists recorded nearly five inches of rain in the desert. A typical year brings about two inches.

“To have as much water as we have now—and for it to be as deep and lasting as long as it has—this is extremely uncommon,” Andler says. Lake Manly last appeared in 2005.

She predicts water levels will drop in a matter of weeks. But she says the lake “will probably be here into April [or] May. And then it’ll be a muddy, wet mess, and then it’ll dry out into those gorgeous white salt flats.”

Scientist Guo Yu says the lake’s current status is a “simple natural phenomenon.” He says it’s linked to a wet winter from a strong El Niño (which involves warming of part of the Pacific Ocean). Those conditions can produce more rain than usual in California.

Tiffany Pereira, a research scientist, says the extra rain helps local flora and fauna. She says some Death Valley seed species, such as many kinds of wildflowers, have lain dormant for a decade or more. Now there’s enough water to sustain them. They begin their short life cycle.

“They do their thing, and as soon as it dries up, that’s it. They’re done,” says Pereira.

What a powerful and inventive Creator! God sustains all things by His word—despite difficult weather. (Hebrews 1:3)

Friends Trudell Artiglere and Sheri Dee Hopper were among hundreds of visitors playing in the unusual desert water. At the end of the day, Artiglere said their salt-encrusted kayaks looked like “glazed donuts.”

Husband-and-wife Bob and Heather Gang of Nevada also enjoyed paddling through the rehydrated lake.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kayak Lake Manly,” Heather Gang says.

The water in the lake is a sharp contrast to the Death Valley they’ve known. The Gangs say they visited the same spot in years past. Then, they saw chalky salt flats as far as the eye could see.

The couple has watched the area since last year’s storms started filling it. In the fall, the Gangs drove out to see Lake Manly reemerge. But they say the water wasn’t deep enough for kayaks until now.

Bob Gang didn’t want to miss out on the rare boating experience.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he says. He gave a girl a kayak ride. “It’s good to see the little kids out here enjoying this and seeing something totally unique.”

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus. — Isaiah 35:1