LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The road connecting Death Valley National Park and Beatty, Nevada, is expected to reopen on Wednesday, Nov. 1, the National Park Service (NPS) announced Friday.
For businesses in Beatty, it’s just a few days too late. This weekend, the Beatty Days festival will go off without the benefit of any traffic to and from the park. It’s been this way since floods devastated Death Valley on Aug. 20 as the remnants of Hurricane Hilary moved through the area. The park officially reopened Oct. 15.
Emergency repairs to Daylight Pass — the road that connects to SR-374 into Beatty — will be finished by Wednesday, but there’s still plenty of work to do. Permanent repairs are scheduled to begin in February, according to park officials. Until then, drivers should use caution.
“A contractor cleared rocks and gravel off the road, filled in shoulder drop-offs, removed damaged pavement, and filled in collapsed road segments with gravel,” according to an NPS news release on Friday. “A second contract will start in a few months to do permanent road repairs, including repaving and selective armoring to protect roads from future floods.”
A woman who lives in Beatty said people want to get to the park. “Everybody wants to see the lakes,” she said.
“When everything’s open, Beatty does really well,” Stagecoach Hotel & Casino’s Jim Henderson said.
But these days, traffic from California is way down. “All sorts of Indian casinos they can go to now. People forget about you,” Henderson said. “We’ve got nobody on the casino floor,” he said late Friday afternoon.
The Stagecoach and a worker at another hotel in town didn’t even have advance notice that the road was reopening next week.
But the town will be busy enough. Motel rooms are filled with miners and drillers, and Beatty Days typically attracts more of a local crowd, Henderson said.
California highway crews and staff at Death Valley National Park have been working hard to reopen since the storm dropped 2.2 inches on Aug. 20 — more than a year’s worth of rain in a single day. “Some mountainous areas in the park likely received more than 6 inches of rain that day. The mountains’ steep rocky slopes absorbed little of this rain. Most of it channeled into canyons as flash floods. Floods damaged the park’s utilities, some buildings, and 1,400 miles of roads,” the news release said.
Park officials said hotels, the largest campgrounds, primary viewpoints and hiking trails are open.
“Drivers should expect gravel patches on paved roads and to encounter traffic delays due to continuing construction parkwide. Most of the park’s secondary roads and backcountry remain closed due to flood damage,” NPS said.
Information is on the park’s website: nps.gov/deva.