LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Death Valley residents and employees are being allowed to travel via Daylight Pass Road and Beatty Cutoff as recovery from devastating floods continues. That’s one of the few pieces of good news out of Death Valley National Park after more floods on Tuesday.
The west entrance to Death Valley is closed due to extensive damage to California Highway 190 (CA-190) inside the park. Caltrans has not yet released an estimated timeline for reopening, according to a National Park Service news release. CA-190 from Stovepipe Wells Village to California Highway 136 is closed, and the park service said about 400 feet of pavement between Panamint Valley Road and Towne Pass was lost in the flood.
“There aren’t any more storms in the forecast,” according to Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “Hopefully we can make real progress getting more of the park open soon.”
Sections of Badwater Road have debris up to 3 feet thick and shoulders have eroded away leaving unsafe drop-offs. The park anticipates opening the road from CA-190 to Badwater Basin by Sept. 24.
“It sounds like western part of CA-190 has water flowing over it as I type this, and Furnace Creek is under a flash flood warning until 6:30 p.m. today (Tuesday),” according to a dispatch from NPS public information officer Abby Wines.
“The flood basically wiped out (Echo Canyon and Hole-in-the-Wall roads) … along with all the places people were camping,” according to the park service.
“The park plans to use this natural reset to designate campsites when the road is re-established,” according to the park service. As new campsites are established, permits will be required, but there will be no campsite infrastructure until more work can be done.
Permits will be available for a nominal fee at Recreation.gov (not available online yet).
Most paved roads into the park are closed. The only route open is from the east, via Death Valley Junction and CA-190. Visitors can drive only to Dantes View, Zabriskie Point, The Oasis at Death Valley, Furnace Creek Visitor Center and Campground, Harmony Borax Works, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, and Stovepipe Wells.
A “situation update” provided by Death Valley National Park says, “Contractors are now monitoring access through Daylight Pass and Beatty Cutoff. They are instructed to allow access for Death Valley residents and employees.”
Previous reports that the road between Beatty and Death Valley could be partially reopened by mid-October could be affected by the new damage reported this week. Park officials say crews that are assigned to begin work there on Sept. 23 might be pulled to work on Badwater Road. That could delay the reopening to Beatty until mid-November.