LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Closures remained in effect Monday at Lake Mead, Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Monument as officials sorted out the damage from heavy rains.
Hurricane Hilary — long since downgraded to a tropical storm, then a tropical depression — caused parks to shut down Saturday to keep people out of harm’s way.
Lake Mead National Recreation Area officials announced early Monday evening that the park would be open on Tuesday after closing on Aug. 19.
“Thankfully, there were no injuries and facilities received minimal damage in the wake of this storm,” said Acting Superintendent Mike Gauthier. “We are pleased to announce we are open for business again.”
Most facilities and services are fully operational, officials said.
“The exceptions are the concessioner-operated Las Vegas Boat Harbor, which was severely damaged in an Aug. 18 monsoon, and the Callville Bay Marina, which is currently without power,” according to Monday’s news release. “There is also currently no marina fuel available in the Boulder Basin. Boaters should plan accordingly. Contact the concessioners directly for updates to the status of those services.”
“The park remains closed to recreation today,” according to a Facebook post. “Portions of the park received overnight storm damage, and teams are out this morning assessing the damage. We will be doing assessments and bringing operations back online in an orderly fashion throughout the day, and we expect the park to re-open and return to normal operations Tuesday (Aug. 22, 2023).”
Park officials asked visitors to report damage if they discover it anywhere in the park.
At Death Valley National Park, the park service and California Highway Patrol were searching for anyone stranded in remote areas of the park and assessing impacts on the ground.
“Caltrans and NPS are working to clear an exit route on CA-190 from Stovepipe Wells to Death Valley Junction so visitors and employees can safely exit the park,” according to a National Park Service news release.
Death Valley officials haven’t released a timetable for reopening the park.
A year’s worth of rain fell in a single day, forcing 400 residents, travelers and employees to shelter in place at Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells and Panamint Springs. “It is not known when the first sections of the park will reopen,” according to a Facebook post.
“The unprecedented rain came in two bursts, with about an inch of rain Sunday morning and another inch of rain Sunday night. Preliminary data from the official National Weather Service rain gauge at Furnace Creek recorded 2.20 inches of rain – the park’s average annual rainfall. Once verified, this would be the single rainiest day in Furnace Creek history beating the record of 1.7 inches set Aug. 5, 2022. Higher amounts of rain fell in the mountains,” according to the news release.
Power was restored to the park at 1:30 pm on Monday, which also restored cell phone service. The NPS land line telephones are still down. The park is also responding to a broken sewer line releasing raw sewage into the desert below Stovepipe Wells. No further details were available.
Joshua Tree National Monument
At Joshua Tree, staff began assessing damage early Monday.
“Road crews found large amounts of sand and debris on roadways and have begun clearing the roads.
At this time, Joshua Tree National Park will be open for day use only as of Tuesday, Aug. 22,” according to the park’s Facebook page. “All visitor centers and paved roads will be open. All dirt roads and campgrounds will remain closed until further assessment can be done.:
Park officials warned that the rains could bring tortoises out on the roads, advising drivers to “watch the roads carefully, drive slowly, and always brake for tortoises!” Also: “To help a tortoise off the road, remember to move them low and slow and in the direction they are going. Only move a tortoise if it is safe to do so.”
Red Rock closure
Access to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area was blocked Monday morning as floodwaters crossed State Route 159 between mile markers 13 and 15. The 13-mile scenic loop is closed until Tuesday.
Parks in the valley
In the valley, parks were open. North Las Vegas closed the gates to Craig Ranch Regional Park on Sunday.
“All of our parks, golf courses and recreation centers are open,” according to North Las Vegas parks director Cass Palmer. “We closed on Sunday due to the wet conditions, wind and the request from emergency personnel for everyone to shelter at home.
“Craig Ranch skate park will open tomorrow morning,” after water has been cleared from the bowls, Palmer added.
Clark County Parks remained open throughout the weekend, according to Rich Mueller, public information coordinator for parks.
“Our sports leagues and programming at the Wetlands Park were all shut down/canceled through the weekend,” Mueller said. “Everything is open today with the exception of Wetlands Park programming which will resume tomorrow.”
Majestic Park in Las Vegas was closed over the weekend because some of the ball fields are in detention basins. “However, we have since reopened it and we did not close any other parks due to weather,” according to a city spokesperson.
A Henderson spokesperson said there are currently no closures.