Getaway Compass

How to Visit Badwater Basin and Lake Manly in Death Valley National Park

Lowest Place in North America Death Valley

In August 2023 Hurricane Hillary brought rain to Death Valley that led to the accumulation of water in Badwater Basin. This formed a temporary lake where Lake Manly used to be 10,000 years ago. The reflection of the surrounding mountains on the lake is incredible and makes for an even more magical experience as this lake is a rare occurrence. Keep reading for more information on how to visit the temporary lake at Badwater Basin in Death Valley National Park. This lake is a rare event that you don’t want to miss!

Current Conditions of the Temporary Lake Manly at Badwater Basin

Lake Manly Death Valley National Park
Lake Manly from Dante's View on January 14, 2024
Lake Manly Death Valley
Lake Manly from Dante's View on January 14, 2024

The lake continues to evaporate, but as of March 2024 there is still a shallow lake. In the beginning of February an atmospheric river added additional water, bringing the water level up to a foot deep in some spots. However, strong winds February 29-March 2 pushed the water and spread out the lake making it shallower and muddier than it was before. It is unknown how long the lake will be there but the park estimates it could be there through April.

Things to Know Before Visiting the Lake at Badwater Basin

Note: Make sure to follow the established pathways from the parking lot at Badwater Basin out to Lake Manly.

Badwater Basin with Lake

Rain Boots Are the Way to Go

The best way to explore Badwater Basin when there is still water is with rain boots! I ordered these rain boots before our latest visit to Death Valley and they allowed me to explore further without worrying about ruining any shoes. You won’t want to walk barefoot because the salt can be sharp.

Instead of the Salt Polygons You Get to See a Rare Lake with a Reflection of the Mountains

How to Visit Badwater Basin

Note that you won’t be able to see the salt polygons with the lake present but you could aways see the salt polygons a different time when the lake evaporates. Now may be the only chance for you to experience this temporary lake in the lowest place in North America! The views of the surrounding mountains are incredible, with Panamint Range on the west, where you can see Telescope Peak rising to 11,049 ft.

You will reach the lake fairly quickly, with only about a 10 minute walk from the parking lot. Once you get to the lake it is up to you how much further you want to go. With my rain boots I was able to explore far from all the people. Be careful as there are parts on the salt lake floor that can sink in slightly.

You Should Visit During Sunset

How to Visit Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park

The best time to see the lake at Badwater Basin is during sunset when the colorful sky reflects onto the lake creating a mesmerizing sight. To make sure you get here in time for sunset arrive to the parking lot at least 45 minutes before the sun is supposed to set. This gives you time to find parking, change into rain boots, and walk out to the edge of the lake.

What Does Badwater Basin Normally Look Like?

Badwater Basin

Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America at 282 ft below level. The salt flats extend about 200 square miles. Normally, to get to the edge of the salt flat you only need to walk about 10 minutes on a boardwalk from the parking lot, but to see the salt polygons you will want to walk about a mile each way.

How to Get to Death Valley National Park

Guide to Badwater Basin Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is in a very remote location in California near the border with Nevada. If you are not within driving distance of Death Valley National Park the closest airport with commercial flights is in Las Vegas (LAS). Start planning your visit to Death Valley National park by searching for the best flight deals to LAS using Skyscanner.

Death Valley National Park is the largest park in the lower 48, covering over 3.4 million acres. The best way to explore the park is by renting a car to road trip through the park. You should book your rental car in advance on Discover Cars which compares rates across rental car companies to find you the best deal.

Where to Stay When Visiting Death Valley National Park

Dantes View with Lake Manly Death Valley

There are three hotels located inside the park which include The Inn at Death ValleyThe Ranch at Death Valley, and Stovepipe Wells Village Hotel. The Inn at Death Valley is the most expensive option but it is also the nicest and is only a 20 minute drive from Badwater Basin.

If you want to save money you can stay in Pahrump you can find many affordable Airbnb options that are a better value than hotels inside the park. Pahrump is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Badwater Basin. We have stayed at two Airbnbs in Pahrump while visiting Death Valley, both of which I highly recommend. This Guest Suite is a great value and is conveniently located only 3 miles from the road that leads to Death Valley National Park. If you want more space, consider this guest house which we stayed at on a previous visit to Death Valley.

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links for products and services I recommend. At no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Reut and Zack Elopement-5

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