Inconsiderate Off-Road Drivers Damage Death Valley’s Landscape

Such driving is banned there, but that hasn't stopped some people

Auto damage in Death Valley
Due to the climate and landscape, vehicular damage in Death Valley National Park can last for years.
NPS/Birgitta Jansen

Some of the most breathtaking sights in the United States can be found in Death Valley National Park. But visitors seeking to enjoy the sights can also leave their mark on the landscape — literally. Jalopnik has a new article on how the beautiful vistas of of the park have been marred by inconsiderate drivers.

Visit the National Parks Service’s page for Death Valley and navigate to the page about off-road driving. You’ll quickly see an unambiguous message: “Off-road driving is NOT allowed in Death Valley National Park.” Why? Because tire tracks have a tendency to stay in the landscape for years, if not decades, after they’ve been made.

To protect the fragile and beautiful desert environment for future generations of visitors, Death Valley National Park does not allow OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) use within park boundaries. ATVs, Quads, Dune Buggies, Sand Rails and California “Green Sticker” vehicles may not be operated in the park.

A report from News 3 Las Vegas notes that “Death Valley is seeking grants from the State of California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division to restore the landscapes and to prevent further off-road driving from taking place in the park.” This is not the first time the park has applied for these grants, and one is left with the unnerving suspicion that it won’t be the last.

The images in Jalopnik’s article and elsewhere make for a harrowing look at how pristine landscapes can be marred by the most casual of actions. There are plenty of excellent places to go off-roading where it won’t scar the landscape and cost plenty of money to clean up. And yet, here we are.

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