The work is on Hwy 160 at Mountain Springs, a hilly, rural section between Hwy 159 (the Red Rock Canyon road) and the outskirts of Pahrump. This is major work to widen the road to four lanes; improve median barriers, signage, and lighting; change the grade on some turnouts to make them safer; add new plants and replant others salvaged during the project; even put in a wildlife undercrossing. There will be 1-way controlled traffic with pilot cars, and blasting will take place through Oct. 15, sometimes resulting in 2-hour delays.
Because of reduced roadway and shoulder widths in work zones, peds and bicycles will not be allowed at any time in this area.
The worst part of this is that the project will last two years, until August 2020. NDOT is urging people to take alternate routes if possible, which casual Death Valley visitors can work around but will be an awful ordeal for Pahrump residents who commute to Las Vegas. Some folks thought they were giving up hectic urban living and accepting a long commute in exchange for rural peace and quiet; but over the last 20 years have found themselves living in an unincorporated town with no planning or review process that has metastasized like crabgrass on steroids, where apartment houses, mobile homes, trailers serving as residences, ranches, junkyards, dollar stores, and whatever else someone wants to toss together on their land coexist side by side. And along with living with all that, now their one commute route is disrupted.
Here are your alternate routes. Distances are all from McCarran International Airport and are approximate since everyone has varying travel styles and makes different stops or detours. These directions may seem confusing and will be clearer if you have good Nevada and California road maps.
1). BEATTY ROUTE: U.S. Hwy 95 north from Las Vegas to Beatty, west on NV 374 to the park. The 100 miles/160 km to Beatty on the federal highway are not very dramatic. You do get to see the ghost town of Rhyolite, and arrive in Death Valley conveniently close to Mesquite Dunes and Ubehebe Crater. But you bypass Dantes View and Zabriskie Point, requiring a long detour south to see those places later. About 175 miles/282 km from airport to Furnace Creek.
2). AMARGOSA VALLEY ROUTE: U.S. 95 north from Las Vegas to Amargosa Valley, then south on NV 373 which becomes CA 127 to Death Valley Junction, then west on CA 190. Much of this route is not very dramatic, but the plus is that Dantes View and Zabriskie Point are right on your way into the park. About 155 miles/250 km from airport to Furnace Creek.
3). BAKER ROUTE: This is the longest, and there is nothing exciting between Las Vegas and Baker, so it isn’t the most desirable. I-15 from south side of Las Vegas to Baker CA, then CA 127 north to Shoshone; and either stay on 127 for Death Valley Junction and CA 190 west or take Badwater Road north into the park. About 170 miles/274 km from airport just to Shoshone. From Shoshone to Furnace Creek area is 75 miles/120 km via Badwater; you do not pass Dantes and must detour 25 miles one way from FC to see it. From Shoshone to Furnace Creek via Death Valley Junction is 60 miles/100 km, and Dantes and Zabriskie are on the way.
I'm not on this forum a lot, so if someone wants to bump this thread occasionally, that would be great. We will be approaching the heavy visitor season in Death Valley in a few weeks and it would be nice if folks knew in advance what to expect.