Hurricane Hilary in Death Valley National Park

A mountain landscape outlines a stretch of road destroyed by flood waters.
Flooding from heavy rain damaged CA-190 between Zabriskie Point and Furnace Creek. Photo taken morning of August 21, 2023.



Starting in the late afternoon on Saturday, August 19th, 2023 and continuing on and off until Monday, August 21st, Death Valley National Park was hit by the remnants of Hurricane Hilary. This included heavy rain, which led to flooding in many areas of the park and a parkwide closure for safety.

On Sunday, August 20th, 2.2 inches (55.88 mm) of rain was measured at Furnace Creek, making it the all time wettest day recorded for that location and breaking last year's record of 1.7in (43mm). While 2.2 inches may not sound like much, it is greater than the park's annual average rainfall (2.15 in/54.6 mm)!


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Video pans through a rocky desert landscape near Zabriskie Point, where muddy floodwaters rush over paved road and down a hillside and converge into a deep wash (Gower Gulch), while two people watch safely from one of the banks. The sound of rushing water is heard throughout the video.

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20.75 seconds

Flooding caused by heavy rain on Sunday, August 20, 2023 in Gower Gulch near Zabriskie Point.


Many people visit Death Valley to enjoy the incredible views, including canyons and alluvial fans. These features are formed largely by flood events, which can sometimes be quite dramatic and can significantly impact human infrastructure.

Crews began clearing and assessing park roads on Monday, 8/21/23. Extensive damage including undercutting and pavement loss was found on major roads in the park. Many roads were covered with debris and some backcountry roads were completely washed away.

Roadwork and repairs are ongoing. Some roads have been cleared and repaired, but others remain closed. Please see the Current Conditions page for the most up to date information.

A park ranger walking across a damaged section of Daylight Pass in Death Valley National Park
Park Roads & Current Conditions

Current information about roads and other current conditions, delays, and closures in the park.

Rocks, mud and floodwater being cleared from highway 190 after heavy rains hit Death Valley.
Highway Conditions

California Department of Transportation road status.


Common Questions

Click the arrows by the topics below for the answers to common questions about the impacts of the recent flooding.  

Many roads and popular destinations within the park reopened on 10/15/2023, however, drivers should anticipate multiple 24-hour traffic control points where repair work is ongoing. Every road in the park was damaged and most backcountry roads remain closed.

Please check the Current Conditions page for the most up to date information.

A full assessment has not yet been completed, but contractors on site have reported minimal water damage. Preliminary assessments suggest that the flood mitigation work completed following the 2015 flood which closed the Scotty's Castle area, sucessfully protected the historic structures.

Devils Hole: The impacts of Hurricane Hilary at Devils Hole were minor. Floodwaters deposited fine sediment on the shallow shelf of Devils Hole, which is critical foraging and spawning habitat for the Devils Hole pupfish.  

Minor flooding brings nutrients into this nutrient-poor ecosystem. However, the fine sediment deposit potentially suffocated some recently laid pupfish eggs. Young and adult pupfish were able to swim out of harm’s way. 
Death Valley National Park employees are keeping a close eye on the pupfish and their ecosystem to learn if the fish were impacted by the flooding. 

Salt Creek: Death Valley National Park employees are working to assess the impact of the floods on Salt Creek and the pupfish population there. 

In some deserts, flooding leads to beautiful flowers within a few weeks. However, here in Death Valley, August daily high temperatures are around 115F (46C), which means that while some vegetation may green up, we do not expect any flowers in the near future.

It is too early to know if this summer's flooding will lead to a superbloom in the spring of 2024. Superblooms are rare events, which often require both rain in the preceding fall/winter and lack of drying wind in the spring. 



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    Last updated: November 29, 2023

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    P.O. Box 579
    Death Valley, CA 92328


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