Last week, record rains almost washed out what was left of Death Valley National Park, as it was still recovering from the record rains from last August.
Last time, they quickly brought the park back to life and opened the roads and overlooks, one piece at a time. This time, they “think” they should have at least the main highway, CA190, open in three months. The timeline to open other roads and overlooks is indefinite.
How Much Rain?
On August 20, rains from tropical storm Hilary, dumped 2.2 inches (6 centimeters) 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 (4 centimeters) in one day, set in August of last year.
Christopher Andriessen, a spokesperson with the California Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans, stated that about 900 of the park’s nearly 1,400 miles (2,250 kilometers) 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.
What About Scotty’s Castle?
For my tour guests and online friends, the first question I started to get from them about the Death Valley floods was, “What About Scotty’s Castle?”
Answer: Due to the work they did after the 2015 flood and the way the storms moved through the valley, Scotty’s Castle was spared any major damage.
Details: The popular Death Valley tourist attraction has been closed since the night of October 18, 2015, when Scotty’s Castle/Grape Vine Canyon received 2 3/4 inches of rain— a year’s worth of rain within a mere five hours. This followed a half-inch of rain the day before.
The rain and hail fell on the steep slopes of Grapevine Canyon and quickly caused a flash flood of mud and rocks headed towards Scotty’s Castle, flowing at an estimated 3,200 cubic feet per second.
It has been closed ever since as the park has been working on rebuilding the road to the castle and restoring damage to the structures. The castle is not expected to be open until late 2025.
As much as we all love Death Valley and want to see it for ourselves, please let the professionals do their jobs. Stay safe, stay away until they give us the “ok” to start wandering back in!