Badwater Basin sunset in Death Valley National Park. Credit: Randy Lemoine
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CA – June was the hottest month ever on record in Death Valley National Park.
The National Park Service tells TrailMob that the average temperature in June was 101.9 degrees F. The sweltering heat exceeded average June temperatures by roughly 6 degrees F. The official weather observations at Furnace Creek have been monitoring Death Valley weather since 1911.
"We're not even in the hottest part of the summer yet. Who knows what July and August will bring." Said Death Valley Superintendent Mike Reynolds. "The average temperature sounds hot enough, but when you break it down you can really understand the extreme summer conditions in Death Valley. People expect a desert to cool down at night, but the night of June 21st only cooled down to 101 degrees F," Reynolds said.
The park’s average high temperature this June was 115.5 degrees F and the average low was 88.2 degrees F. While the average temperature may have been record-setting, Death Valley only set a new single-day record one day last month, with the mercury rising to 126 degrees F on June 21. That’s just a few degrees shy of the highest temperature ever recorded in Death Valley in June (129 degrees F on June 30, 2013). The highest officially recorded temperature on the planet (134 degrees F) was recorded on July 10, 1913 in Death Valley.
Despite the record-setting heat, Superintendent Reynolds notes the high temperatures are not keeping visitors away from Death Valley. "Death Valley National Park receives more summer visitation than you might expect. August is the park's third busiest month, behind only March and April. Many of these visitors are from other countries and they come here to experience our world-famous extreme temperatures. I respect those visitors. Think about it . . . summer is the time to experience the thing that makes Death Valley different from any other place on Earth."
If your summer travel plans include a trip to Death Valley, make sure to plan for the heat. Always use sunscreen, a hat, light-colored loose fitting clothing, and drink plenty of water. The humidity in the park is very low, often below 10%. "People don't realize how much they're sweating," Reynolds said. "Bring at least one gallon of water per person per day – and drink it!"
Safe travel is an essential part of visiting Death Valley in the summer and is something upon which Superintendent Reynolds puts particular emphasis. "We advise park visitors to drive on paved roads and not to walk very far in the summer. Cell phones don't work in most of the park, and being stranded in high temperatures can quickly turn life-threatening. A few weeks ago a German motorcycle rider died on the unpaved Harry Wade Road. If he had been on a well-travelled road, other park visitors would have seen him and taken him into their car to cool off. That probably would have saved his life." Reynolds said.
While the heat may be insufferable and dangerous in Death Valley’s lower elevations, such as the famous Badwater Basin (282 feet below sea level), there are still incredible hiking opportunities in the dog days of summer. Death Valley’s higher elevation trails are best during the summer months when they are not blanketed with snow, such as Telescope Peak (which is the highest peak in Death Valley), Wildrose Peak or Dantes Ridge Trail. If your plans include camping in the park, avoid the Furnace Creek Campground during the summer months, the 90 degree F lows make sleeping impossible. At higher elevation the Wildrose Campground (4,100 feet) and the Mahogany Flat campground (8,200 feet) are much more comfortable choices.
Death Valley Weather Facts:
Death Valley reaches a daily high of at least 90 degrees F on an average of 190 days.
Death Valley reaches a daily high is at least 100 degrees F an average of 140 days.
Death Valley reaches a daily high at least 110 degrees F an average of 89 days.
Death Valley reaches a daily high at least 120 degrees F an average of 18 days.
Death Valley reaches a daily high at least 125 degrees F an average of 3 days.
So far this year, Death Valley has already reached 120 degrees F on eight days.