Death Valley National Park Roads Closed Again Following Severe Flooding

by Emily Morgan

Death Valley National Park, well-known for its extreme heat and scorching temperatures, is now closing its roads again. However, the heat has nothing to do with the closure. Instead, water is to blame.

According to a news release from the US National Park Service, storms in the area have caused massive problems for the roads in the region. Numerous downpours have devastated the park since late July. As a result, many roads that reopened in August after unprecedented rainfall are now closed again.

“Road crews are exhausted from clearing, and then re-clearing, the same sections of roads,” the NPS release said.

“It’s been an exciting few weeks of rain, record-setting heat, and even a hurricane remnant!” Superintendent Mike Reynolds said. “There aren’t any more storms in the forecast. Hopefully, we can make real progress getting more of the park open soon.”

On Friday, officials closed the west entrance to the park due to extensive damage to California Highway 190 west of the park, which is mainly in California with a small section in Nevada.

According to the release, this particular section of CA-190 reopened for a few hours on Tuesday. However, an evening downpour caused “much more significant damage than the prior storm.”

Now, most paved roads that led into the park have been closed. “The only route into the park is from the east, via Death Valley Junction and CA-190,” the release said.

As of Friday, park officials said visitors could still drive to Zabriskie Point, Harmony Borax Works/Mustard Canyon, Dantes View Road, and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes.

The release also added that the park’s road crew has been concentrating on Badwater Road this week. Parts of the road also have debris up to three feet thick, leaving shoulders washed away. As a result, this has created dangerous drop-offs for drivers. According to the release, the park estimates it will reopen the road from CA-190 to Badwater Basin by September 24.

On August 5, the park had a terrible day of flooding. The Furnace Creek weather station recorded 1.7 inches of rain on that day.

Aftermath of hurricane leads to odd phenomenon in Death Valley

While some might be surprised that less than two inches of rain can create such damage, in arid regions such as Death Valley, that much rain can cause significant flooding.

In addition, the remnants of Hurricane Kay have also led to heavy rainfall. The rain has even caused waterfalls to pop up in the park.

“Storms fueled by the remnants of Hurricane Kay caused localized, heavy damage in Death Valley National Park on Saturday afternoon,” National Park authorities wrote on Facebook.

They even shared a stunning video showing muddy waterfalls cascading down an embankment by Badwater Basin.