Eight weeks after it was completely closed due to torrential flooding, Death Valley National Park partially reopened to visitors over the weekend – but the desert landscape is looking a little different these days.
It was back on Friday August 20 that the park received over 2 inches of rain in a single day, which is more than the area typically sees in an entire year. As a result, the park has been completely closed ever since, marking the longest closure in its history.
On Sunday, the park finally partially reopened, allowing visitors enter the park via CA-190 from the west via Lone Pine or from the east via Death Valley Junction; all other park entrances remain closed. The roads that are open are not yet fully repaired and in the official news release, travelers are warned expect loose gravel on roads, lowered speed limits, and traffic delays.
“It’s pretty rare to see a lake in Death Valley!”
For those willing to put up with slower travel times, however, there are some unusual rewards – Badwater Basin, the 200 square mile salt flats that form the lowest point in North America, currently has a temporary lake that is several miles long.
“This is a really special time,” says Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “It’s pretty rare to see a lake in Death Valley!”
The lake is only a few inches deep and may dry up within a few weeks.
Lodging, food, and fuel are available at Panamint Springs Resort, Stovepipe Wells Village, and the Oasis at Death Valley, and many campgrounds will also be open for those traveling with their tents and sleeping bags.
Meanwhile, the forecast is calling for sunny days and highs near 100 degrees this week, so while further flooding won't be an issue, visitors are reminded to carry plenty of water and understand the dangers of hot weather hiking.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.