Campgrounds now open at Death Valley National Park

Campgrounds now open at Death Valley National ParkCampgrounds and lodging are now open at Death Valley National Park. Interest is high and reservations are fully booked for the remainder of the season at Furnace Creek, the park’s only campground with a reservation system. Other campgrounds are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

About 820,000 people visited Death Valley National Park in 2020. This was about half the number of people that visited the park the previous year. Breaking down the figures by season illustrates the impact of the coronavirus pandemic over time.

The year started out strong. The park had its third-busiest January, with 99,000 visits. The park nearly tied its busiest February, with 128,000 visits.

The pandemic’s impact on travel started mid-way through March 2020, which is usually the park’s busiest month. 112,000 people visited in 2020.

Most of the park reopened on June 26. In a normal year, the majority of the park’s summer visitors are international travelers. With international travel greatly reduced, the park’s summer visitation was very low, about 30,000 to 40,000 people per month in June, July, August, and September. These figures were about 75% lower than the same months in 2019.

As the weather started to cool down, Americans resumed traveling to Death Valley. 67,000 people visited in October, down 52% from the previous year. As temperatures cooled even more, November 2020 was a tie for the park’s busiest November, with 132,000 visits.

Campgrounds and lodging in the park closed on December 7 in response to California’s Regional Stay-at-Home Orders. In spite of the lack of overnight accommodations, 94,000 people visited in December, which was the park’s third-busiest December.

2021: The Regional Stay-at-Home Orders were in effect until late January, yet visitation remained high, with 80,000 visits.

As Americans seek safe places to recreate during the coronavirus pandemic, many are turning to national parks like Death Valley. Trails, overlooks and open spaces can provide safe ways for visitors to recreate responsibly, get some fresh air and stay active.

To protect the health of those who work in or visit America’s national parks, face masks are required in all National Park Service buildings and facilities. Masks are also required on federally managed lands when physical distancing cannot be maintained, including narrow or busy trails, overlooks, and parking lots.

Pictured: A bighorn sheep statue inside Furnace Creek Visitor Center models coronavirus safety. — NPS photo

Story First Published: 2021-03-12