It may be one of California’s premier winter RV destinations, but if you go, be ready for changes at Death Valley. Catastrophic floods left the national park closed for a while, and things are slowly reopening.
“Some spectacular things happened in Death Valley following the floods we received from remnants of Hurricane Hilary back in August. Ephemeral lakes popped up around the park, which is both pretty rare and amazing! They disappear fast, so they most likely will not be there when you visit,” according to a weekend post on the park’s Facebook page.
Some of those “spectacular things” include water where you wouldn’t expect it. Some of the rain-induced flooding filled up small ponds in the midst of the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes. Bring your camera and be quick about it. You can’t expect water to stick around long in this lonesome and “hotter than a pistol in summer” locale.
Roads slowly reopened
Things have been reopening slowly as crews work on washaway roads. On October 15, California Highway 190 reopened. Traffic was finally allowed back in the park from the west in California and Nevada to the north, through Death Valley Junction. Other roads followed, including Badwater Road, Dantes View Road, Artists Drive, Natural Bridge Road, and Mosaic Canyon Road.
Now, just a week later, Twenty Mule Team Road, along with roads to Mustard Canyon, Grotto Canyon and Greenwater Valley have already opened, and the park continues to update its map on the Alerts & Conditions page on the Death Valley website. Greenwater Valley Road (aka Furnace Creek Wash Road) and its side roads including Deadman Pass and Gold Valley opened on Friday.
You can follow along on the changes at Death Valley by checking out the map on the Alerts & Conditions page on the Death Valley website.
More changes at Death Valley push out to March 2024:
- Daylight Pass: The entrance to the park southwest of Beatty, Nevada. Expect it to open with a gravel section and a lowered speed limit by the end of next week (Friday, Nov. 3. But it could be sooner—it may open by October 30. More repairs to replace pavement could begin in February or March 2024.
- Father Crowley/Rainbow Canyon Vista Point remains closed within an active construction zone along CA190.
- South Badwater Road/CA178: Contractors will work on the southern part of the road. It’s expected to open late November or early December. The road provides access to Ashford Mill.
- On North Highway, permanent repairs will take until sometime after February 2024. It accesses Fall Canyon Trail, Old Stovepipe Wells, Lower Titus Canyon, Ubehebe Crater and Racetrack Road.
- Wildrose Road/Emigrant Canyon Road will see permanent repairs to be completed sometime after February 2024. The road provides access to: Wildrose Charcoal Kilns, Wildrose Peak Trail, and Telescope Peak Trail.
- Beatty Cutoff Road will see contractors making permanent repairs. No expectation that the route won’t be open until after February or March 2024. The road provides access to Keane Wonder Mine.
- Bonnie Clare Road and Scotty’s Castle remain closed due to flood recovery work. They’re not likely to open before late 2025. There is NO access allowed, including foot traffic, bicycles, motorcycles, or any other kind of vehicles.
The National Park Service notes that motorcycles and all other motorized vehicles are prohibited on closed roads. Bicycles and foot traffic are still permitted unless otherwise noted.