Modern day Lake Manly is an occasional temporary lake which sometimes covers the Badwater Basin usual landscape of salt flats with a large body of water. The main difficulty encountered by those hoping to visit Lake Manly (to wade through the water, photograph the lake, or float on the lake) is having to wait for several years for the lake to reform when there has been enough rainfall. Two satellite images showing a comparison of Badwater Basin with Lake Manly (Link Box 2) and without Lake Manly (Link Box 1) can be found by clicking on the buttons above. GPS coordinates are not provided as parking to reach Lake Manly is generally in close vicinity to the Badwater parking lot.
Lake Manly was a massive lake stretching nearly 100 miles long and 600 feet deep which once covered what is now known as the central Death Valley basin. Most sources agree that Lake Manly ceased covering central Death Valley approximately 10,000 years ago at the end of the Pleistocene ice age when it evaporated. In between that time frame and now, a few smaller lakes filled in parts of the basin. But today, at most times the only evidence that Lake Manly ever existed can be found in impressions left behind in Death Valley terrain. For instance, Shoreline Butte (a popular hill/butte rising above the salt flats located 22 air miles south of Badwater) was once an island surrounded by the deep waters of Lake Manly. Strandlines (or terraces) are still visible on Shoreline Butte at places where the waves reached the shoreline. Hikers who climb Shoreline Butte in modern times are able to visualize what it must have felt like to dive into the waters of 600-foot deep Lake Manly. As a comparison, the deepest lake contained entirely within New York state is Seneca Lake, which has a maximum depth of 618 feet. But Seneca Lake is only 38 miles long, barely over 1/3 the length of what Lake Manly once was. While it has been some 10,000 years since Lake Manly fully covered the region, from time to time Lake Manly once again appears and makes its presence known to all park visitors. This happens on years in which Death Valley receives a lot of rainfall and the Badwater Basin salt pan floods, creating a temporary lake. Because this is such a rare phenomenon (happening every five years or so), some park visitors take advantage of the reappearance of Lake Manly (named after William L. Manly) by kayaking or canoeing on the lake. Most recently, kayakers were spotted in October of 2015. My friend Dave and I were two of the kayakers who were spotted in March of 2010. Prior to October 2015 and March 2010, the previous most recent appearance of Lake Manly took place in March 2005. During our kayaking session in 2010, Lake Manly was several inches deep. This allowed our inflatable shark to float freely across the water. Our kayaks did not glide very well because the water was not quite deep enough for rowing. But still, we could move around a bit and it provided for a great photo opportunity. After we went kayaking on the lake, we had an interesting experience as we were walking back to our vehicles. A tourist stopped by the side of the road to photograph us carrying our kayaks across the salt flats. She was snapping pictures for several minutes and when we finally reached her location, she looked at us like we were confused. She asked us if we were lost or knew what National Park we were in. She obviously thought it was bizarre that we had shown up in Death Valley to go kayaking. So the next time Lake Manly appears, be sure to head out to Death Valley with your canoe or kayak. I'm sure you will have as much fun as we did during our visit on March 4, 2010. In May of 2016, several news organizations took notice of the Lake Manly phenomenon and ran stories which included pictures and details of our visit to Lake Manly.
Many more photographs taken during our visit are available for viewing for this destination. To see all of them, choose one of the two options presented below. The two options are Slideshow viewing and Trip Report viewing. The Slideshow option allows for viewing larger images with an autoplay option and a full screen option (available on most browsers). This option works very well for large computer screens and tablets. The Trip Report option allows for viewing smaller pictures in a standard scroll-down format and enlarging of any panoramic photos taken during our visit. Click on the option of your choice to view all of our photos from this destination. The Slideshow format opens in a new browser window and the Trip Report format uses the same browser window for viewing.
TRIP REPORT FORMAT