"There's some kind of underground nuclear waste fire. The interstate is closed for a few days. And the road to Furnace Creek is closed with flooding," says the waitress at the Stovepipe Wells Saloon.
After hearing this, we start asking for news around other parts of the park. In remote places like this, news travels unreliably.
After traveling east to Furnace Creek without incident, invalidating the waitress' advice, we ask for news from a ranger.
"The major highways are closed," she replies, "so the only way to Las Vegas is to go out the west side of the park and down to Highway 395."
That would mean backtracking all the way back through the park, but we've grown skeptical. We ask the clerk at the gas station next door.
"Oh yes," he replies, "the way from Beatty just opened up, so you can get to Las Vegas that way. I just heard about it a few minutes ago."
Getting to Beatty requires backtracking halfway though the park and taking a long detour to the north, so we walk over to the reception desk of the resort nearby.
"We just heard an hour ago that the only way to get to Las Vegas is by exiting the southeastern end of the park, detouring north to Amargosa Valley, and taking Highway 95 east from there."
Every single piece of advice that we've received has been contradictory. But because this last one is the most convenient, we decide to roll the dice.
In many sections, the road is covered with dirt left by the recent flash-flooding, and it kicks up into a cloudy haze whenever a car passes us. But aside from this, we make our way back to Vegas without incident.