After massive flooding came through Death Valley National Park two weeks ago, it was clear repairs would need to be done. Roads and parts of the Death Valley and other parks were closed to visitors for the last two weeks. When the flooding came through in the first week of August, it was a shock to the area that is used to only getting 2 inches of rain a year.
Within a one-week period, Death Valley was hit with not just one, but two storms. Each storm brought with it multiple inches of water. Years’ worth of rainfall in just days. Flash flooding is common in the desert. It is a natural process for these arid and dry places to replenish themselves.
However, this was different. Now, two weeks later, we have things starting to return to normal. Parts of the park that were previously closed will now reopen to visitors. Those areas include Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Badwater Basin, Zbariskie Point, as well as the Mesquite Sand Dunes.
“Death Valley National Park’s most popular sites will reopen to the public on Saturday, August 20 – just two weeks after a historic flood unleashed massive, record-setting rainfall and caused millions of dollars in damage to roads and facilities. Several park roads remain closed so visitors should plan ahead and not rely on GPS,” the park said in a statement on Facebook.
It’s been a quick turnaround, however, that doesn’t mean all is perfect. The park will have warnings and still has closures including major roadways that go into the park. Right now, only State Route 190 and Panamint Valley Road are open heading into the park.
Death Valley National Park Reopens
Of course, Death Valley National Park wants to get folks back into the park as soon as they can. Keeping it open helps keep things running, including important conservation efforts. Still, this flooding was historic. There really is no precedent for what we saw happen in the region and that means there is a lot of work still left to be done.
“Backcountry roads are still being assessed and the park does not have information about conditions in many areas. The public should be aware of hazardous conditions, including missing shoulders, steep drop-offs, and impassable areas on backcountry roads. Backcountry travel in Death Valley requires proper equipment, careful planning, and experience with extreme heat and harsh desert conditions,” the park says.
If you were hoping to get to the park, it’s a good time. Just listen to the warnings and pay attention to any closures. The last thing you want is to be stranded in the desert with no idea where you are. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again to some unlucky soul. But, Death Valley National Park is back and ready for business, and that’s a reason to celebrate!