Wildfire Closes Scotty's Castle in Death Valley

A fire of unknown cause is burning near the historic Scotty's Castle in Death Valley National Park, and part of the park near the castle has been closed to visitors while crews try to get the fire under control, hopefully by the end of the week.

The fire, which was sparked around 4:00 P.M. Tuesday, is burning in an area of heavy brush in a canyon north of the Castle in the Grapevine Mountains.

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According to Park spokesperson Cheryl Chipman, the flames have reached as high as 70 feet and have consumed more than 25 acres of brush. Though the popular and historic Castle has not been damaged so far, fire crews have had to douse an outbuilding with water after wind-driven embers landed on it.

Photo: Death Valley National Park

The Castle, built in the 1920s for mine investor Albert Mussey Johnson, is one of the Park's most popular tourist spots. Tours of the Castle have been canceled until the area is safe and water and power are restored. A few backcountry roads north of the Castle have been closed as well: if you're visiting the Park in the next few days, be sure to consult with a ranger before planning your travels. And don't forget that the Furnace Creek campground is closed for upgrades, though there are other options available on a first-come first-served basis near the newly revamped Furnace Creek Visitor Center.

And hopefully, the popular organ concerts at The Castle, an annual tradition each June, will happen as scheduled.

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