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Death Valley National Park Closed for the Foreseeable Future Due to Storm Damage

Cleanup continues in Death Valley National Park this week after Tropical Storm Hilary brought widespread flooding and washed out roadways. The National Park Service says they do not have a timeline for the park to reopen.

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NPS officials say the recovery is a team effort. A recent social media post from Death Valley shared additional details about the cleanup. In total, 52 staff members are visiting from 47 other parks to assist in the work. The tasks include more than just clearing roads and rebuilding. Additional help includes resource advisors, finance, safety, planning and assessments to get the park back open.

After the storm hit the weekend of August 19 and 20, about 400 people were trapped inside the park due to damaged roads. Crews initially focused on clearing a path to get traffic out, which includes CA-190, a major artery in and out of the park. 

Parts of the park saw soil underneath roadways washed out. Meanwhile, five feet of rocks buried other road sections. 

death valley closed
A view of some of the damage caused by Tropical Storm Hilary where Hwy. 190 was washed away. (Source: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Rebuilding Death Valley

The focus is reopening the major roads first, but the project will happen in stages, and some smaller roads will be closed for months.

“Multiple national parks across the country have sent staff to assist Death Valley in this enormous undertaking. Each day brings more progress in our efforts to open and repair roads and facilities, but this is going to take time.” said acting superintendent Ben Roberts in a press release. “Death Valley National Park is larger than the states of Rhode Island and Delaware, with over 1,400 miles of roads. There is a lot of work to do.” 

Prime visitation for Death Valley often comes in the cooler months, with winter a great time to beat some dangerously high temperatures. However, people’s fascination with the record-breaking heat will often bring visitors to the park in the summer.

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