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How Hot Do You Like It? 120+ Degrees Fahrenheit At Death Valley National Park


Hot, scorching weather is sweeping Death Valley National Park, where officials are urging visitors to be cautious in the heat. This thermometer, at the park's visitor center, shows the unofficial temperature/NPS

It's hot at Death Valley National Park, and getting hotter.

While the temperature reached 120 degrees Fahrenheit on Saturday, the first time it got that hot in the park this year, by Tuesday a 126-degree reading is expected to greet visitors who spend the first day of Summer in Death Valley.

And that high heat has park officials warning everyone -- locals and foreigners -- to be cautious out in the park under those scorching conditions. Earlier this month a woman sustained third-degree burns on her feet -- yes, her feet!! -- when she "lost her sandals in Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes and walked about a half mile on the hot sand. The temperature of the sand was not recorded, but touching a 120° F surface for over five minutes can cause burns of that severity."

Ground temperatures are generally significantly higher than official temperatures, which are recorded about 4 feet off the ground in the shade. Ground temperatures over 200° F have been measured in Death Valley. To put that in perspective, 160° F is sufficient to cook meat.

The hot weather isn't turning visitors away from Death Valley. In recent years, over 100,000 people visited the park each summer month, according to park staff.

Rangers are recommending that visitors not stray from their air-conditioned vehicles for more than 15 minutes, avoid activity in the middle of the day, wear a hat and sunscreen, drink plenty of water, and remember eat light meals or snacks, even if they don’t feel hungry. They also suggest that people spend more time at higher (and cooler) sites in the park, such as Dantes View.


When I was 12, we went down in the bottom of the Grand Canyon on the mules.  It was 123 dF at Phantom Ranch.  All I can say is thank goodness for a shaded Bright Angel Creek (for lying in), and swamp coolers!

Think of the fire fighters around the country who are battling blazes in temps like these.

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