LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Three drivers were cited after going offroad, leaving tire tracks and getting stuck over the past 10 days in Death Valley National Park, according to a Friday news release.
Each of the drivers faces a mandatory court appearance. The offense could bring six months in jail or a $5,000 fine, according to the park’s website. A similar incident over the summer stranded a car in the salt flat a mile from Badwater Road for three weeks.
Park rangers are concerned about copycat behavior when people see tracks leading into the desert. While rangers were at the scene where one vehicle was going to be towed, more than one visitor came up to them and asked how they can drive out into the sand dunes as well.
The National Park Service provided these details on the incidents since Dec. 22:
On Dec. 22, two men drove a rented Porsche SUV off a road toward the salt flat about two miles south of Badwater Basin. The vehicle got stuck in mud about 200 yards away from the road.
“Retrieving stuck vehicles can cause significant additional damage. Park rangers instructed that National Park Service staff would need to monitor the extraction,” according to the news release. “However, the men hired a man with a pickup truck to attempt to remove the Porsche when the NPS was not present. The pickup truck also got stuck in mud.” The pickup truck driver was also cited.
A tow truck winched the pickup truck out of the mud a couple days later. The Porsche drove out of the mud after digging holes and laying down traction.
On Dec. 27, a man drove a BMW SUV over a parking lot curb and for about a half mile through Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes before getting stuck in sand. The vehicle was towed out the following night.
“Vehicles driving off roads can damage fragile ecosystems and damage archeological sites,” Superintendent Mike Reynolds said. “They also impact the experience of other park visitors. People want to take photographs of the park’s beautiful landscapes without car tracks in the picture, which can last for many years.”