Death Valley National Park welcomed more than 1.1 million visitors in 2021 — about two-thirds of the park’s highest visitation level, set in 2019, according to park officials.
Winter and spring visitation was close to pre-pandemic levels, park officials said, while January through April 2021 had visitation at 86 percent of record levels.
“Most of the drop in visitation was in the summer,” park officials said.
Visitation from May through September 2021 was only 38 percent of 2019 visitation levels. In a typical year, most of the park’s summer visitors are international travelers.
The return of park visitors is a welcome sign for many business owners in Pahrump, a popular stopover for Death Valley tourists who are on their way to and from Las Vegas.
Proximity to Death Valley is partly why husband and wife, Timothy and Alina Quinata, opened Death Valley Marketplace at 3280 W. Bell Vista Ave. in October 2021.
The marketplace largely caters to tourists and sells postcards, souvenirs, specialty sodas, body products, candy and many locally made products.
“Tourists can get a little representation of what’s available by stopping here,” Timothy Quinata said between helping customers in his store on Tuesday.
The business also offers diaper-changing stations, water-refilling stations and serves as a rest stop for travelers who use Bell Vista Avenue as an access point to Death Valley, Calif.
Business has been steady since the market opened last fall, Quinata said, and likely benefited economically from Death Valley National Park’s busiest November ever in 2021, when 133,130 came through the area.
Quinata said he’s noticing a lot more tourists on their way to Death Valley now that many pandemic restrictions are being lifted. But he’s looking forward to the return of “big buses” coming through with more international tourists.