But It's a Dry Heat...
"It was so hot that swallows in full flight fell to the
earth dead and when I went out to read the
thermometer with a wet Turkish towel on my head,
it was dry before I returned."
Oscar Denton, caretaker of what is now the
Furnace Creek Ranch on the record hot day of
134o F (56o C) in July 1913
Death Valley is one of the hottest places in the world. Summer
daytime temperatures often exceed a blistering 120o F (49o C).
and nights may fail to cool below 100o F (38o C).
The dramatic landscape around you helps generate these
extremes. In the low valley bottom, the desert sun heats the air.
The valley's steep mountain walls trap rising hot air and
recirculates it down to the basin for further heating. This cycle
leads to sizzling temperatures.
Death valley is also the driest place in North America, with an
average rainfall less than two inches (5 cm) a year on the
valley floor. The surrounding mountains and the Sierra Nevada
to the west capture moisture from passing storms before it
reaches the valley, creating a "rain shadow." Only the occasional
summer thunderstorm or the most powerful winter storm brings
rain to the valley.
Death Valley's summer heat can be deadly for the unwary.
A safe trip in hot weather requires taking a few precautions:
- Take plenty of water and be sure to drink it.
- Avoid outside activity in the heat of the day. Use the early
morning hours for short walks or head to the mountains for
- Keep to the main roads in summer; if your car breaks down,
stay with your vehicle until help comes.
Overlooking the salt flats from the summit
of the Black Mountains, Dante's View is
more than 5000 feet above you.
Air temperatures there can be 25o F (14o C)
cooler than at Badwater.
How hot is Death Valley?
|average maximum||record maximum|
|January||65o F (18o C)||89o F (32o C)|
|February||72o F (22o C)||97o F (36o C)|
|March||80o F (27o C)||102o F (39o C)|
|April||90o F (32o C)||111o F (44o C)|
|May||99o F (37o C)||122o F (50o C)|
|June||109o F (43o C)||128o F (53o C)|
|July||115o F (46o C)||134o F (57o C)|
|August||113o F (46o C)||127o F (53o C)|
|September||106o F (41o C)||123o F (50o C)|
|October||92o F (33o C)||113o F (45o C)|
|November||76o F (24o C)||97o F (36o C)|
|December||65o F (19o C)||88o F (31o C)|