Thanks to Hurricane Hilary, Death Valley Now Has a Lake

The hottest place on Earth looked a little bit different when it reopened to visitors this week.

Courtesy of Hurricane Hilary, it has rained so much in the hottest place in the world that, where the ground is usually sizzling, there is now a (temporary!) lake.

If it sounds like wild news, it's because it is. After being closed for nearly two months due to Hurricane Hilary's disastrous aftermath, California's Death Valley National Park is now open again—but it looks pretty different from before. As CNN reports, the driest place in North America is now home to beautiful wildflowers, and dry grounds have turned into ponds and even lakes.

But how did an actual lake form in such a place, really? It all happened because Hilary's massive rainfall on August 20—which was equivalent to one year's worth of rain in just 24 hours and the park's wettest day in recorded history—led to the creation of ponds and one massive lake where the ground was too dry to even try to absorb the moisture. Therefore, Badwater Basin, which is also the lowest point in North America, became a temporary lake that stretches over several miles, the National Park Service (NPS) said.

Here's a side-by-side comparison of what the basin looked like before and after Hilary, shared to X by the EU Space Programme's Copernicus:

The lake is surely the most impressive sight, but you better go visit now if you want a chance at witnessing the natural wonder, as it is unclear how long the new lake is going to be there for. According to the NPS, the lake is now only a few inches deep, and the odds of it staying over the next few weeks aren't really good. It all depends on the weather, and how hot and dry it is going to be. The higher the temperatures, the faster the water will evaporate.

But for now, you still have some time. According to Death Valley park spokesperson Abby Wines, there should still be some water through November, CNN reports.

In the meantime, here are some more images of the incredible Death Valley views:

death valley national park temporary lake
Mario Tama/Getty Images News
pooled water at death valley national park after hurricane hilary
Mario Tama/Getty Images News
death valley national park lake visitors
Mario Tama/Getty Images News
death valley sunrise temporary lake
Mario Tama/Getty Images News

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Serena Tara is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist. She will beg you not to put pineapple on pizza. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.