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Death Valley

One of the hottest places on Earth

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Death Valley - in the Mojave Desert

Death Valley - it means what it says

Death Valley is for real.  The hottest, lowest point in the USA can live up to its name. Temperatures in summer regularly reach 120°F or almost 50°C. While tragedies do not occur every year,.they can happen, and several tourists have lost their lives in Death Valley in recent years, after failing to take the elementary precautions. Don't go hiking in temperatures above 95° F (36°C), and certainly not alone.  Stay on paved roads and clearly marked trails. Carry plenty of water. Watch out for rattlesnakes.  Drive carefully.

Located in the Mojave Desert, some 4 hours' drive from Los Angeles, and 2 from Las Vegas, Death Valley provides some of the most awesomely beautiful and unusual landscapes in the USA – colored mineral landscapes sculped over the centuries by wind water and blowing sand.
  As with any area of desert, the Mojave Desert enjoys a dry climate for most of the year, protected by the Sierra Nevada from the rains that can blow in off the Pacific ocean. Death Valley is particularly dry, and average annual rainfall at its driest spot, Badwater,  is only about 1.5 inches (less than 40 mm).
  Vegetation finds it hard to grow - and in many parts quite impossible to grow - in the heart of Death Valley, an area largely without soil. The landscape is thus denuded, a patchwork of bare rocks, sand dunes and salt pans, a stark picture painted in multiple shades of grey, ochre, white and brown. On the fringes of the National Park area, and higher up, Spring can temporarily bring a landscape of green shoots and colored flowers; but generally it does not last.
  From the nineteenth century until the late twentieth century, parts of Death Valley were mined for minerals, notably borax and gold. All mlining activity in the National Park area has now ceased.

Covering an area of 5,269 square miles (13,647 sq km), the Death Valley National Park is the largest National Park in the USA outside of Alaska.

Places to see in Death Valley

Badwater basin
Badwater Basin - the lowest elevation in North America, 282 feet (86 m) below sea level .
The Devil's golf course - a large saltpan in Badwater Basin, formed from the evaporation of sea water many millions of years ago.
Dante's view. Not quite the inferno, but spectacular views over the Badwater Basin and the Devil's Golf Course. Parts of Star Wars have been filmed here.
Furnace Creek.  Location of the Death Valley NP Visitor center, the Furnace Creek golf course, and accommodation facilities, such as The Ranch
Scotty's Castle.  Hundred-year old neo-Mission style villa built by gold prospector and millionnaire Albert Johnson.
Twenty Mule Team canyon.  Dirt-track road 4 miles south of Furnace Creek. Spectacular scenery.
Zabriskie point  Dramatically eroded badlands, spectacular scenery. Features in Antonioni's eponymous 1970s movie.

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Death Valley - The hottest place in the world.  
The hottest temperature ever recorded in the world is 54°C (129.2° Fahrenheit), which has been officially recorded in three places: Death Valley in California in 2013 and 2023, Kuwait in July 2016, and Ahvaz, in Iran in 2017.
The "unofficial" hottest recorded temperature in Death Valley, put at 57°, is subject to doubt, and was not recorded according to modern scientific measurement criteria.

Best times to visit Death Valley

Death valley is best visited in the fall (autumn), once the intense summer heat is off, and before the cool of winter. For the full adrenalin experience, visit in June or July, when the temperature is at its hottest. For a different experience, visit in early Spring, when what vegetation there is is starting to sprout and bloom.
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