Scotty’s Castle in Death Valley to stay closed for several months after flooding

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Severe thunderstorms caused more flood damage in northern Death Valley National Park than initially thought, park officials said.

The visitor’s center at Scotty’s Castle, a Spanish-style mansion that offers guided tours, was inundated with about 2 feet of mud in Sunday’s storms, park officials said Tuesday.

The outside of the center, which occupies the garage portion of the ranch house named for Walter Scott, known as Death Valley Scotty, is surrounded by rocks, mud and other debris from the flood.


Scotty’s Castle, the main house in the historic district, was not damaged, but the hacienda building’s interior ground floor was filled with about a foot of mud. Inside the Cook House, park officials found a few inches of mud. Flood debris covers the outside of the stables.

The flood damage was so severe that park officials said Scotty’s Castle likely will be closed for several months.

“The National Park Service will be bringing in experts to help assess what work needs to be done to preserve this very special historic site,” park Superintendent Mike Reynolds said in a statement.”

Built in the 1920s as a vacation compound by Chicago millionaires Albert and Bessie Johnson, the castle is managed by the National Park Service. Albert Johnson chose Death Valley as a vacation destination after sparking a friendship with Scott, who recruited him to invest in his gold mine. He later realized Scott was a con man, but the pair remained friends.

Scotty’s Castle Road (North Highway) suffered extensive damage in the Grapevine Canyon, with the pavement completely washed away in some places, park spokeswoman Abby Wines said.


Flooding forced about 20 visitors and three park rangers to hunker down overnight at Mesquite Springs Campground and the Ubehebe volcanic crater. By Monday afternoon, park staff cleared a path for the visitors and rangers to safely exit.

The storm knocked down 20 power poles and heavily damaged a water treatment system, Wines said.

California 190 is open, but park officials said visitors should expect delays because all roads have been damaged and are engulfed in debris and standing water.

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