Death Valley National Park completely closed after torrential flood

Cars stranded in flood at Death Valley National Park
Over 1,000 people were stranded, but some cars have now been able to leave under escort (Image credit: National Park Service)

Death Valley National Park is completely closed to the public after torrential flash floods left roads impassable on Friday August 5. Over 1,000 visitors and members of staff were left stranded as floodwaters and debris blocked access routes.

The flooding was caused by exceptionally heavy rain in the usually arid desert of Death Valley. As the Washington Post reports, the Furnace Creek area received 1.46in of rainfall on Friday, which is about three quarters what it would receive in a typical year.

In a statement released Sunday August 7, the National Park Service (NPS) explained that all roads remain closed, but some people have been able to drive out with law enforcement escorts. Aerial searches are underway to identify any remaining trapped vehicles.

Road and infrastructure damage

As with the floods that devastated Yellowstone National Park back in June, the Death Valley floods have caused severe damage to roads and infrastructure, the scale of which is now becoming visible as the water recedes. Sections of Highway 190 have been destroyed or undercut, leaving it unstable, and over 20 palm trees have fallen onto the road.

The NPS is still cataloging the full extent of the damage, but many other roads have suffered asphalt damage or been covered by debris, and several buildings have suffered water damage (including the NPS Emergency Operation Center building). Several water lines have been blown out by the sheer volume of water, cutting off supplies, though some of these have now been restored.

The NPS has advised that phone lines are currently down. At the time of writing there are no updates on the park's Twitter account, so if you've been planning a visit to the park over the coming weeks, keep checking the NPS website's alerts and conditions page for the latest information.

Cat Ellis

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.