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Death Valley in the summer is known for its extreme heat. After all, it is “the hottest place on Earth.” If you’re planning a trip to this desert region, it’s important to take precautions to stay safe and comfortable in the hot and dry conditions.
So how hot is Death Valley in the summer anyway?
Summer temperatures in Death Valley often top 120° F! The average high for June is 110° F, July’s average high is 116° F, and August is 115° F. (However, the average lows in the summer months are in the 40’s – so pack accordingly!)
The world record highest air temperature was recorded here, at Furnace Creek, in July of 1913, at 134° F.
Here are some tips and tricks to help you survive your visit to Death Valley National Park in the summer.
When visiting Death Valley in the summer, it’s important to dress appropriately to protect yourself from the extreme heat.
It’s best to wear breathable, lightweight clothing to prevent heat exhaustion. It’s also a good idea to cover your skin as much as possible to avoid sunburn (although we didn’t take our own advice!)
Lighter colors will reflect the sun’s rays instead of absorbing them. A wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses can also help protect your face and eyes from the sun. This packable, roll-up sun hat is one of my favorite summer items. You can smash it and it pops back into shape immediately! And it’s cute!
Don’t forget to apply sunscreen with a high SPF, and re-apply often!
One of the most important things you can do to stay safe in Death Valley in the summer is to keep yourself hydrated. The extreme heat and dry conditions can quickly lead to dehydration, which can be dangerous, and even deadly.
Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, even if you don’t feel thirsty. It’s a good idea to bring electrolyte replacement drinks as well.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine, because they can dehydrate you even more.
Plan Activities for Early Morning or Late Evening
The hottest part of the day in Death Valley is typically between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, so it’s important to plan your activities accordingly. Try to schedule any outdoor activities, such as hiking or sightseeing, for early morning or late evening when the temperatures are a little cooler.
Not only will this help you avoid the extreme heat, but it will also give you the opportunity to see the park in a different light. Plus, you’ll have a better chance of spotting wildlife during these times.
Find Air-Conditioned Spaces When Possible
One of the best ways to survive the extreme heat of Death Valley in the summer is to stay in air-conditioned areas as much as possible. This includes your car, hotel room, or any of the Visitor Centers and restaurants with air conditioning.
During the hottest part of the day, have lunch at the restaurant in Stovepipe Wells, and visit the general store and gift shop.
Also, make sure you make the Furnace Creek Visitor Center a stop, not just for another chance of air-conditioning inside, but because this is where the sign is that shows the temperature, and it’s a perfect photo-op!
See the Sights From the Safety of Your Car
Luckily, there are a lot of scenic sights you can see in Death Valley from your car, or by getting out of your car for just short periods of time.
Take the scenic “Artist’s Drive” – a 9-mile, one-way drive that features Artist’s Palette, which is a must-see! It’s an other-worldly view of colorful minerals splashed across the rocky landscape. The colors can look varied at different times of the day.
We saw this amazing site in mid-day and it didn’t disappoint, but I hear evening when the sun is hitting it just right, the colors will be even more vibrant.
Drive to Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America, and take the short walk out to the salt flats. Make sure to bring plenty of water out with you, and don’t walk too far out in the summer months! There is signage there with warnings about heat.
The Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes are another popular site that is very accessible. From Highway 190, you just pull right up to the dunes. They’re best seen at sunrise or sunset, not only for the beautiful views, but because if you want to get out and explore a little, the sand won’t be scorching hot.
Another popular sunrise and sunset scenic area is Zabriskie Point. After parking, you do have to walk up a steep hill to see the view. There is a 2.7-mile loop hike through the colorful hills, but I wouldn’t suggest trying it in the summer, especially with kids.
At Devil’s Golfcourse, the salt formations can be seen from your car. But get out for a few minutes and listen carefully to hear little popping sounds. It’s billions of salt crystals bursting apart in the heat!
Know the Signs of Heat Exhaustion
When visiting Death Valley in the summer, it’s important to be aware of the signs of heat exhaustion and even heat stroke.
Symptoms of heat exhaustion include heavy sweating, headache, weakness, dizziness, and nausea. If left untreated, heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke, which is a medical emergency.
Symptoms of heat stroke include a high body temperature, confusion, seizures, and even loss of consciousness. If you or someone in your group experiences any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately!
Our visit to Death Valley was in the middle of July. It was 119° F when we arrived, and 121° F when we left. Our GPS completely stopped working because of the sun hitting it through the windshield. We talked to people whose phones overheated after being out of their cars for 5 minutes.
It was HOT!
If you plan to visit Death Valley in the summer months, make sure you follow safety advice from park signage and the rangers, bring lots of water, and use common sense!
Before your visit, check for any alerts on the official National Park website.
Although I would suggest a Death Valley trip in any season other than summer, don’t let that stop you from visiting during the summer months if that’s all you can do! I promise, if you follow this advice, it’s still worth it!
Check out these relevant articles next!
- Ultimate Guide to National Parks for Families
- The Ultimate Sequoia and Kings Canyon 2 Day Itinerary
- America the Beautiful National Parks Pass Guide 2023
- Grand Teton’s Hidden Falls Hike with Kids
- Hidden Beach in North Lake Tahoe: Nevada’s Not-So-Hidden Beach
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