DEATH VALLEY, CA – The National Park Service warns pilots to be careful when landing or taking off at Furnace Creek Airport, due to numerous cracks and bumps in the runway. Repairs will be costly and are not likely to happen soon.
Furnace Creek Airport is located at 210 feet below sea level in Death Valley National Park. The runway pavement is very close to the water table. Ground movement and salt heaving, similar to frost heaving cold environments, have caused damage to the runway.
The airport remains open, but pilots have been warned about the poor condition of the runway by a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) advisory through the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Stovepipe Wells Airport is in better condition and is an alternative for pilots flying into the park.
The National Park Service does not have a timeline for full repairs, which would include subsurface work, moisture barriers, and repaving. Repairs are estimated at $3 million.