Tourists are paddle boarding and frolicking in one of Earth's driest locations after record rains

Badwater Basin in Death Valley in February 2024.
Death Valley National Park in February 2024.DAVID SWANSON/Getty Images
  • Record rainstorms have hit California's Death Valley National Park, replenishing Lake Manly.

  • The amount of rain in Death Valley in the last six months is more than double a typical year.

  • The "uncommon" phenomenon prompted tourists to paddle board and frolic in the lake.

Heavy rainfall created a temporary lake in Death Valley National Park, one of Earth's driest locations, prompting travelers to take a potentially once-in-a-lifetime swim.

The unexpected phenomenon began earlier this week at Death Valley's Badwater Basin after recent rainstorms battered California.

Located 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin is North America's lowest point. It used to be the site of Lake Manly before it evaporated tens of thousands of years ago, according to the National Park Services.

People at Death Valley's temporary lake in February 2024.
Tourists wading through Death Valley's temporary lake. Ty ONeil/Associated Press

Park Ranger Nichole Andler told the Associated Press that Badwater Basin is typically "a very beautiful, bright white salt flat," but the recent water created a new landscape. The rainfall over the past six months in Badwater Basin is more than double the typical amount accumulated during an entire year, AP reported.

"So it's going to collect water, but 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 told the outlet.

Family at Death Valley's temporary lake in February 2024.
A family at Death Valley's new old lake.DAVID SWANSON/Getty Images

Andler estimated the lake would probably last until April. "If we're lucky, May. And then it'll be a muddy, wet mess, and then it'll dry out into those gorgeous white salt flats," she said.

The rare temporary lake has attracted hundreds of curious tourists, including Heather and Bob Gang. The couple told the AP that most people waded into the water on Thursday, but they and a group of others paddled.

People at Death Valley's temporary lake in February 2024.
Tourists paddle boarding and wading in Death Valley's temporary lake. Ty ONeil/Associated Press

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to kayak Lake Manley," Heather Gang said.

The lake is more than fun, however, according to scientists.

Guo Yu, Desert Research Institute's assistant research professor of hydrometeorology, called the lake's size a "simple natural phenomenon" and suggested scientists should study if the water in Lake Manly could be utilized in other ways moving forward.

Death Valley in February 2024.
Two tourists sit beside Death Valley's temporary lake.DAVID SWANSON/Getty Images

Desert Research Institute's associate research scientist, Tiffany Pereira, added that the additional water could provide a boost to the flora and fauna in the area.

The recent rainfall in Southern California has had other unintended consequences across the state. In addition to life-threatening floods, locals have also encountered mudslides and landslides. Earlier this month, photos showed three multimillion-dollar mansions sitting on the edge of an eroded cliff after a storm.

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