Something incredible is happening at Death Valley National Park right now. Lake Manly, an ancient lake has reappeared after many years! 😮 This lake is one of the most awe-inspiring sights you’ll ever see and it will only exist for a little while.
I drove across the country from Washington DC to California in a week, just so I could witness this rare phenomenon. Let me tell you, it was so worth it! I was completely blown away.
Death Valley is the largest national park in the US and Lake Manly is at the lowest point in the US, Badwater Basin. It’s one of the most incredible natural landscapes that you will ever see. 🤩 So, get to Lake Manly before it dries up and is gone again!
Below you’ll find a detailed post on everything you need to know before visiting Lake Manly. I hope you make it before it goes away!*
*As of writing this post on January 27th there are still a couple inches of water in the lake.
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Table of Contents
Lake Manly at Death Valley Details
What is Lake Manly?
Lake Manley is an ancient lake that formed 10,000 years ago 🤯 and used to cover over 620 square miles of Death Valley. However, as time went on the lake completely disappeared and dried up forming the salt flats at Badwater Basin.
Badwater Basin is the lowest place in the US at 282 feet below sea level.
But, in the rare event that Death Valley gets an abnormal amount of rain, this lake forms again. In August of 2023, Hurricane Hillary hit Southern California and they saw historic rainfall 💧, so Lake Manly appeared again!
This lake is usually shallow at about 1-2 inches of depth, but it’s one of the most beautiful sights 😍. It will only exist temporarily, so you should visit while you can!
How to Get to Lake Manly
Lake Manly covers the area of Badwater Basin, which means that it’s fairly straightforward to navigate there. The closest major airport is in Las Vegas.
Once entering the park, you will drive along the main road until you get to the Badwater Basin road turnoff. Then follow the road for 16.5 miles until you get to Badwater Basin 🪧. Walk along the boardwalk and then further onto the salt flats to get to Lake Manly!
Driving Times from Nearby Cities:
- Las Vegas: 2.5 hours
- Los Angeles: 5 hours
- Phoenix: 7 hours
How Long will Lake Manly Exist?
Unfortunately, there’s no way to know how long the lake will last. Back in 2005, it only lasted a week. 😱
However, as of publishing this post in January, Lake Manly has been around since August of 2023. Due to historic flooding and a couple larger rains 🌧, the lake has stuck around for a while now.
That being said, the lake is likely to dry up within the next couple of weeks and may not last through February. So, if you want to get to Death Valley, right now is the best time to go is now!
Best Time to See Lake Manly
In my opinion, the best time to see Lake Manly is either sunrise or sunset. 🌅
The vibrant colors of sunset reflect off of the water and create an incredible scene. I recommend getting to the Lake half an hour before sunrise or sunset to get a spot and watch the sky change.
Both times we visited Badwater Basin at sunset and they were some of my favorite sunsets that I have ever experienced. You will fall in love with this spot! 💕
Things to Know Before Visiting Death Valley
💵 The park fee is $30 per vehicle. If you have a park pass like the America the Beautiful pass, you can show it to the park rangers at the fee stations. The rangers will exchange your pass for a paper pass to put on your dashboard. The plastic passes will warp in the extreme heat.
⛽️ Get a full tank of gas before going into the park. This park is huge and it takes hours sometimes to drive between destinations. Gas prices in the park can get very expensive. When we were there, it was $6.56 for one gallon at one of the gas stations in the park.
🌡 Death Valley has some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded. You will need to prepare accordingly. If you’re going on a hike, then you should bring a liter per mile. 💦 Also, you will need to apply sunscreen year round, because the sun is very strong.
🚗 Some of the roads in Death Valley can be rocky and rough. Some roads are only accessible with 4WD, but don’t worry Badwater Basin is fine!
🍔 Death Valley has a couple restaurants and general stores within the park if you need to get food while you’re there. You can find places at both Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells to find sustenance.
⛺️ You can disperse camp in the park’s bounds. There are a number of good spots for dispersed camping. You must camp a mile into the road. As of 2023, you’ll need to get a free permit to dispersed camp at Hole in the Wall, Echo Canyon, or Green Water Valley. You can get them at the visitor center.
Where to Stay in Death Valley
Death Valley is one of the most desolate landscapes on the earth and this park is huge! So, the best way to see things including Lake Manly are to stay in the park especially near Furnace Creek. 🏨
You can make reservations to stay at an established campground in Death Valley or dispersed camp at certain locations in the park. However, you’ll need to get free permits for camping at Hole in the Wall, Echo Canyon, or Green Water Valley.
Lodging at Death Valley
Camping in Death Valley
Final Tips for Seeing Lake Manly
If you want to visit Lake Manly, then you should stay updated on the Death Valley NPS website. They will tell you if the lake still exists and what it currently looks like. Just know that the appearance changes every day. I recommend visiting as soon as possible if you can!
Let me know if you enjoyed this guide on Lake Manly in the comments.
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