Another round of storms impacted roads in the Death Valley region on Tuesday, Sept. 13, triggering another round of road closures.
The west entrance to Death Valley National Park is closed due to extensive damage to California Highway 190 (CA-190) west of the Park’s boundary, the Park said in a recent update.
Caltrans has not yet released an estimated timeline for reopening.
Most paved roads into the Park are closed. The only route into the Park is from the east, via Death Valley Junction and CA-190. Visitors can drive only to Dantes View, Zabriskie Point, The Oasis at Death Valley, Furnace Creek Visitor Center and Campground, Harmony Borax Works, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and Stovepipe Wells.
The flooding on September 13 was very spotty. The park’s east entrance on CA-190 was closed for a couple hours in the early evening while floodwaters crossed the highway in multiple places. This meant every road into and out of the park was closed. Traffic control contractors who were already on site were redirected to temporarily allow visitors to exit through Beatty Cutoff, which is not repaired yet from previous flood damage.
Multiple storms have pummeled the Park since late July. Road crews are exhausted from clearing, and then re-clearing, the same sections of roads.
“It’s been an exciting few weeks of rain, record-setting heat, and even a hurricane remnant!” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “There aren’t any more storms in the forecast. Hopefully we can make real progress getting more of the park open soon.”
The NPS road crew is concentrating on Badwater Road currently. Sections of the road have debris up to three feet thick. Shoulders have eroded away leaving unsafe drop-offs. The Park anticipates opening the road from CA-190 to Badwater Basin by September 24.
A contractor will start work on Beatty Cutoff on September 23. The Park anticipates opening that route to Beatty by mid-October, even though some short sections will be unpaved.