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Several sources are reporting major road closures in the Death Valley area due to a severe winter storm that struck the area on February 7, 2009.  Furnace Creek reported an inch of rain with more storms expected through the week.  Look for most roads to reopen as they are cleared.

Click here to view a PDF of the Death Valley National Park Morning Report, which is updated daily.  Area travelers can also check road conditions by calling:
California: 1-800-427-7623
Nevada: 1-877-687-6237

Today's DVNP Morning Report for February 8, 2009 reports that Highway 190 and Daylight Pass Road are open but cautions motorists to watch for mud and debris.  However, just about every other maintained road is closed, including Beatty Cutoff Road, Baterwater Road, Dantes View Road, Scotty's Castle Road, Titus Canyon Road, and Ubehebe Crater Road.

Even some of the most remote destinations are reported closed in today's DVNP Morning Report, including Saline Valley, the Racetrack and Hunter Mountain – all closed due to snow and ice.

A popular historic attraction in Death Valley National Park has been closed to human entry.  The Keane Wonder Mine and its associated complex of mines, mining structures, equipment and ruins is now off limits to both motorized and foot travel.

The rather large closure of approximately 4,250 acres was issued by the Park Service in the interest of public safety.  The closure area does not include the Chloride Cliffs and Chloride City sites above the Keane mine complex, but does includes the Big Bell and King Midas Mines, as well as the much visited springs to the northwest of the mill site.

The Keane Wonder Mine was one of Death Valley's most prolific gold mines, rich in both history and production.  During our last visit in February 2002, the lower mill site was largely in tact and well interpreted with signs and displayed.

The closure order remains in effect indefinitely and will not reopened, according to the Park Service, until "the site can be made safer while preserving its historic features" and "it is hoped that funding is available within the next few years."

For more information on the Keane Mine closure order and closure area, see the National Park Service release dated September 11, 2008

A ribbon cutting and Grand Opening celebration was held on October 25, 2008, for the new Visitor Center at the BLM El Mirage Off Highway Vehicle Area.  The event featured presentations by Mike Pool, BLM State Director, Steve Borchard, Desert District Manager, Daphne Green, Deputy Director for the California Off Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division, and Brad Mitzelfelt, San Bernardino County Supervisor.

The El Mirage OHV Area is managed by the Bureau of Land Management and its centerpiece is the 3,000 acre dry lakebed.  A variety of motorized and nonmotorized activities take place there including landsailing, speed trials, ultra-light and gyrocopter flying, model rocketry and remote control airplane flying.  The lakebed is also popular among the film industry as a site for automobile commercials and major movies.

Honored at the event was Ed Waldheim, president of the Friends of El Mirage, a coalition of users and representatives from several local, state and federal agencies. Ed was credited with keeping the project alive for well over a decade and for working to fund the Visitor Center's construction.

The Visitor Center was dedicated to the late Jim Livermore, one of the founders of the Friends of El Mirage and an early visionary for what has become the El Mirage OHV Area. 

The new Visitor Center is open daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The El Mirage OHV Area is a recreation fee area with per vehicle fees starting at $15 for one day.  Weekly and annual passes are also available.  For more information, click here visit the BLM's El Mirage OHV Area webpage .

This upcoming November 2008 will likely see the first formal public meetings by the California Department of Parks and Recreation on their Red Rock Canyon State Park General Plan Revision. 

For well over a year, DeathValley.com has been hearing from officials that Red Rock Canyon State Park would be preparing a new General Plan.  Earlier this year, the well-entrenched environmental consulting firm EDAW received the contract to conduct the planning process, and they have made significant administrative progress.

The last planning process undertaken by Red Rock Canyon State Park was brief and unsuccessful, abandoned in 2003, and it only covered the newly acquired areas referred to as the Last Chance Canyon Addition. Click here for a map of the last preferred alternative.  Some of you will recall how the public stood to lose access to significant recreation opportunities under that proposal.

Park officials have already publicly affirmed that this process will be different than before.  First, it will seek to revise the General Plan for the entire State Park – both sides of Highway 14.  Second, the process is determined to arrive at a successful conclusion, no matter what the public throws at it.

Stay tuned here for additional details on the process.

Death Valley Area News
The latest news from inside Death Valley National Park