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Death Valley National Park reopens 195 miles of roads

death valley

Death Valley National Park reopens 195 miles of roads

death valley
Photo credits: Federal Highway Administration. Before and after photos of milepost 5.2 in Emigrant Canyon.

DEATH VALLEY, Calif. – The National Park Service (NPS) recently reopened 195 miles of roads in Death Valley National Park. Emigrant Canyon, West Side, Ibex, Saratoga, and Owlshead Roads had been closed since they were damaged by flash floods caused by the remnants of Hurricane Hilary.

Contractors managed by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) did emergency repairs of Emigrant Canyon Road, a 21-mile paved road. This involved clearing debris off the road, filling in shoulders, and filling in destroyed road sections with aggregate and asphalt cold patch. FHWA’s Emergency Relief for Federally Owned roads program (ERFO) funded the contract.

death valley
Photo credit: National Park Service. Photos of milepost 2.1 on Emigrant Canyon Road. FHWA engineers conducting an assessment after the flood (left). Temporary repairs completed (right).

The NPS repaired 174 miles of unpaved roads that will also open at the same time. Death Valley National Park’s only heavy equipment operator currently on staff was joined each week by two contracted bulldozer operators, a contracted heavy equipment mechanic, and 6-8 equipment operators on loan from other NPS sites. NPS work was partially funded by the FHWA ERFO program and partially funded by the NPS Disaster Supplemental fund source.

Repair work is not finished yet. Environmental and archeological assessments are in progress along Titus Canyon Road, which will likely reopen next spring. Meanwhile, NPS crews are shifting equipment to work on unpaved roads in the eastern and northern areas of the park.

The FHWA ERFO program will pay for a contract later this spring that will do permanent repair of multiple paved roads in the park. The contract will install erosion control to reduce damage from future flash floods.

Roads reopened this week include:

  • Emigrant Canyon Road, from CA-190 to Wildrose Campground. Wildrose Campground is open. No road access to Wildrose Charcoal Kilns or other parts of Upper Wildrose. Lower Wildrose Road to Panamint Valley also remains closed.
  • Side roads off Emigrant Canyon are open, including Telephone Canyon, Aguereberry Point, Skidoo, and Wood Canyon.
  • West Side Road is mostly open. It is open from the southern Badwater Road Junction to just north of Trail Canyon Junction, a distance of 33 miles.
  • West Side Road is closed from the northern Badwater Road Junction to Trail Canyon Junction due to an impassable muddy mess. In order to protect natural resources, the NPS prohibits any attempt to drive this section. It is scheduled for repair by fall.
  • Roads off West Side Road are open including: Warm Springs, Galena, Queen of Sheba, Johnson, and Trail Canyon. Hanaupah Canyon Road will be closed while NPS operators finish working on it.
  • Saratoga Spring and Ibex Roads are open.
  • Owlshead Road is open.

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Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and preserves natural resources, cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. Learn more at nps.gov/deva.

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