Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Death Valley National Park, whose roads and trails were scarred and flooded by August storms, will probably reopen Oct. 15, rangers say.

If current repair plans hold, that reopening will give travelers renewed access to many popular park spots, including the lodgings at Furnace Creek, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, the vistas from Zabriskie Point and Dante’s View and the salt flats at Badwater — all landmarks connected by State Route 190 and the northern portion of Badwater Road.

But most other roads in the park will remain closed. So will eastern entrances to the park and the portion of Badwater Road south of Badwater Basin parking area and trail (near the road’s milepost 17). The only route into the park will be via Lone Pine along U.S. Route 395.

If the Oct. 15 reopening goes forward, park service officials said, lodging, food and fuel will be available at Panamint Springs Resort, Stovepipe Wells Village and The Oasis at Death Valley, which is in the Furnace Creek area. Some NPS campgrounds would open at the same time, probably including Texas Springs, Furnace Creek and Sunset. The Stovepipe Wells Campground is not expected to reopen because of a waterline issue.

Xanterra, the concessionaire that operates the Inn at Death Valley, the Ranch at Death Valley and Fiddlers Campground, shows availability at all three venues beginning Oct. 15. Recreation.gov, the website that handles booking for most national park campgrounds, shows reservations available at Furnace Creek Campground beginning Oct. 15. (The park’s other campgrounds are first-come, first served.)

Many Death Valley roads had been repaired after suffering damage in record summer storms of 2022. Then came Tropical Storm Hilary, which shut down the park on Aug. 20 and dropped 2.2 inches of rain on Furnace Creek, breaking a one-day rain record of 1.7 inches that had been set the year before. The park average 2.15 inches of rain yearly.

A pile of asphalt at Zabriskie Point in Death Valley.

(A. Wines / National Park Service)

Some unpaved backcountry routes, like Titus Canyon Road, have been destroyed altogether, park officials said. The trail to Darwin Falls has also been destroyed, officials said. Scotty’s Castle has been closed and under repair since a flood in 2015, with reopening expected no sooner than December 2025.

Locations that rangers expect to reopen include Harmony Borax Trail (walkable but not ADA accessible), Mustard Canyon and Father Crowley Vista Point along State Route 190; and Artists Drive and Natural Bridge along Badwater Road.

Closed locations include Rainbow Canyon, Emigrant Canyon Road, Cottonwood Canyon, Marble Canyon, North Highway, Salt Creek Trail, Beatty Pass, Saline Valley. Rangers said Devils Golf Course might open next week.

Park service officials said in a release that the reopening timetable “depends on several factors, including future weather events and the availability of materials to fix the road. When this section of CA-190 reopens, drivers should anticipate multiple 24-hour traffic control points where repair work is ongoing.”

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