Source: M. Clark of the National Park Service of the United States.

Travel Alert August 2022: Death Valley National Park Closed Until Further Notice

Flooding has caused extensive damage.

If you are planning to visit the legendary Death Valley National Park within the foreseeable future, you may need to change your plans, as all roads, trails, and three campgrounds are temporarily closed due to flooding from what has been called a 1,000 year rain event in what is usually the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the United States.

Travel Alert August 2022: Death Valley National Park Closed Until Further Notice

Death Valley National Park
This photograph shows one of several 30 foot sections of water main that were washed away. Source: R. Wissinger of the National Park Service of the United States.

Flooding, rock slides, and mudslides have caused hundreds of miles of asphalt roadway to be damaged moderately or severely — as well as the loss of a critical portion of the Cow Creek water system which serves some park residences as well as park facilities including the Emergency Operations Building and maintenance yard. Greater than 600 feet of the water main was blown out by flash floods, which caused catastrophic damage to this system.

“The heavy rain that caused the devastating flooding at Death Valley was an extremely rare, 1000-year event,” Daniel Berc — who is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Las Vegas — said, according to this official press release. “A 1000-year event doesn’t mean it happens once per 1000 years, rather that there is a 0.1% chance of occurring in any given year.”

The data is still preliminary at this time; but the 1.46 inches of rain — which fell in only three hours and was recorded at Furnace Creek — just missed matching the all-time record of 1.47 inches, which is equivalent to almost one year of rainfall in the national park.

Portions of United States Highway 190 are not expected to open again any sooner than Wednesday, August 17, 2022 by the Department of Transportation of the state of California, according to this official press release. Opening the road will allow for travel between Pahrump in Nevada and the residential and administrative area at Cow Creek in Death Valley National Park — as well as access to the visitor center at Furnace Creek and the private hotel properties at Furnace Creek — but depending on the severity of damage, roads in the national park itself are expected to remain closed for days, weeks, or even months…

…and even worse is that conditions are subject to change, as a chance of additional thunderstorms is forecast for this week in the Death Valley area.

No injuries have been reported from visitors or park residents at the time this article was written; and people who were previously sheltering in place have been able to carefully travel out through the damaged roadways. No park roads are currently open to recreational travel due to ongoing safety concerns and active road work.

Final Boarding Call

Debris from monsoonal rain immobilize sixty cars — belonging to visitors and park staff — in Death Valley National Park at the Inn at Death Valley on Friday, August 5, 2022. Source: The National Park Service of the United States.

Yellowstone National Park was closed due to flooding in June of 2022 for the first time in its history — but that national park has since partially reopened to the public as approximately 20 percent of it remains closed.

The good news is that no known injuries nor deaths to have occurred in the park as a result of the unprecedented flooding water levels, which have been receding.

I have never visited Death Valley National Park; but I do hope to visit it one day — preferable during a heat wave which could break all-time records

Asphalt damage on Beatty Cutoff Road. Source: National Park Service of the United States.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!