How Long Will the Basin in Badwater be Flooded?

Badwater January 31st, 2010

I received an email from another photographer / friend asking about the water in Badwater and how long will it last there. I visit Death Valley during the late winter and early spring sometimes more than once a month, after all it is my favorite National park.

Greg Russel: Hi, Steve. I’ve been enjoying your recent Death Valley photos, and have been contemplating a trip myself, in hopes of photographing Badwater with water actually present.

Based on your observations, how much longer do you think water will be present? I can’t make it this weekend, but was possibly thinking of one of the following 2–almost 1 month after you took your photos. I would think this recent rain would prolong the life of the lake, so to speak.

Any experiences would help me plan my trip! Thanks, and cheers,

Me (Steve): That is a really tough item to guestimate Greg. There was water last year for a very short period of time but this year there are two lakes on the salt flats in the valley. The water seeps into the ground and the salt naturally soaks it up or it just evaporates all too quickly from heat as it slowly gets warmer. Right now the temperatures aren’t getting hot enough for the water to evaporate and there are steady flows of very slowly moving water into Badwater. With almost an inch over average for this time of year and the possibility of more storms on the way you have a good chance the water will still be there when you show up in March but no guarantees, a heat wave with out any rain could evaporate it all. A mild El Nino has been predicted this year compared to what we had in 2004-2005. Most plan B’s are pretty good in Death Valley and there is always something close by if you do not have an alternate plan.

Floating salt crystals

When we talk about water in Death Valley, we think wildflowers. It’s still too early to predict when the peak bloom will be but rangers have mentioned possibly late March to early April and the valley near Scotty’s Castle and Mormon Point just south of Badwater look the most promising from the recent rains we’ve had.

Desert Gold in a Sandstorm
Desert Gold blowing in a sandstorm

Workshop info

Steve’s Gallery


3 Responses to “How Long Will the Basin in Badwater be Flooded?”

  1. Sharon Van Lieu Says:

    Love the last shot of Desert Gold blowing in a sandstorm.


  2. David Patterson Says:

    Steve… I am in Death Valley as I write this. More rain fell last weekend, and when we first arrived on Tuesday the conditions looked somewhat similar to your first image in this post. With the weather sunny and around 70 degrees this week, I thought maybe the water might slowly subside. However, it looks as though there is even more water on the valley floor now than when we first got here. It seems as though more water is slowly filtering down from higher ground, and my guess is that it will be here for a while longer. Nice images by the way 😉

  3. Steve Sieren Says:

    Thanks for the update David, according to the weather forcast for week it should get pretty hot out there. I’m headed out there next week to lead a workshop. It will be nice to see it evaporate slowly over the next few months.

    I hope you get some great shots as well, have fun out there David!

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