Death Valley National Park may take months to reopen following Tropical Storm Hilary

  • The Death Valley National Park, one of the hottest places in the world, may take months to reopen following last month’s Tropical Storm Hilary.
  • The park, which sits between California and Nevada, received over two inches of rain on Aug. 20, about the amount of rainfall the park usually receives in a year.
  • Tropical Storm Hilary may cost the states at least $6 million in road repairs.

It’s unclear when Death Valley National Park will reopen to visitors after heavy rains from Tropical Storm Hilary forged new gullies and crumbled roadways at the site of one of the hottest places in the world, officials said.

The storm dumped a furious 2.2 inches of rain Aug. 20, roughly the amount of rainfall the park usually receives in a year. This year’s rainfall broke its previous record of 1.7 inches in one day, set in August of last year.

“Two inches of rain does not sound like a lot, but here, it really does stay on the surface,” Matthew Lamar, a park ranger, told the Los Angeles Times. “Two inches of rain here can have a dramatic impact.”


The park, which straddles eastern California and Nevada, holds the record for the hottest temperature recorded on the planet — 134 degrees Fahrenheit, reached in 1913.

Officials say it could be months before the park reopens. It has been closed since Hilary, the first tropical storm to hit Southern California in 84 years, swept through the state in August.

The California State Route 190 is seen in ruins in the Death Valley National Park after Tropical Storm Hilary dropped more than 2 inches of rain on the park in August.  (Nico Ramirez/National Park Service via AP)

Matthew Lamar, a park ranger, told the Times that about 900 of the park’s nearly 1,400 miles of roads have been assessed.

Repair costs are estimated at $6 million, but only for one of the park’s main roads, State Route 190, and a small part of State Route 136.


“We don’t have a timeline yet,” park spokesperson Abby Wines told The Associated Press on Monday. “Caltrans has said they expect to fully open 190 within three months, but they often are able to open parts of it earlier.”

Some familiar sites survived the storm, including Scotty’s Castle, a popular visitor destination.

Young and adult endangered pupfish at Devils Hole cavern survived, although eggs were likely smothered by sediment, the park said on social media last month. Endangered Salt Creek pupfish also survived, the newspaper reported.

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