The Worst Time To Visit Death Valley (Seasonal Guide)

Colin A. Borden
Colin A. Borden

Visiting Death Valley is an incredible experience, but there is a definite worst time to visit.

In the summer months of June through August, temperatures can reach above 120 degrees Fahrenheit in the day and sometimes don’t dip below 100 at night. It gets so hot that some park roads are actually closed to due to the extreme heat.

These months are also when most of the weather patterns bring in less rainfall and potential flash floods, which adds extra dangers to any outdoor activities.

If you want to make sure your visit to Death Valley is enjoyable and safe, it’s best to plan your trip during the milder fall or winter seasons.

Key Points

  • Death Valley is the hottest in the summer. 
  • July and August are typically the hottest months. 
  • Temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. 
  • If you visit during the summer, be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen. 
  • Fall and winter are also popular times to visit Death Valley. 
  • Temperatures are cooler during these months, but can still reach over 100 degrees. 
  • If you visit during the fall or winter, be sure to bring a jacket and layered clothing. 
  • Spring is typically the best time to visit Death Valley. 
  • Temperatures are milder and there is often more rain. 
  • If you visit during the spring, be sure to bring an umbrella and raincoat.

Why summer months are worst to visit Death Valley?

Summer months are the worst time to visit Death Valley. Temperatures in the area can reach up to a scorching 130 degrees Fahrenheit during these months, and the arid air puts visitors at risk of heat stroke and dehydration.

In addition, this extreme heat can make it difficult for people unfamiliar with the area to adjust. The terrain of Death Valley is also quite rugged and dangerous, adding an extra layer of difficulty to traversing these areas safely when temperatures soar to their peak.

There will be very little in terms of vegetation or wildlife active during this period as well, leaving people without much to look forward to while visiting Death Valley.

For all these reasons, it’s best to avoid visiting between June and August if possible.

How hot does it get in Death Valley?

Death Valley is one of the hottest places on earth, with some of the highest recorded temperatures ever seen.

The average high during summer in this area can reach a sweltering 117 degrees Fahrenheit, but it can get far higher than that. On July 10th, 1913, the temperature rose to an unbelievable 134 degrees Fahrenheit earning Death Valley’s title as the hottest place on Earth.

It’s no wonder this area remained unoccupied by humans until the late 19th century when adventurers began to settle here to explore and take advantage of the mining booms.

Death Valley has earned its place in history as the holder of some of the world’s highest temperatures that never fail to surprise us.

Is Death Valley really a desert?

Death Valley is often referred to as a desert, yet many factors make this declaration questionable.

While it looks like a desert, being the driest and lowest-lying area in North America, Death Valley receives more rain than some deserts around the world. Furthermore, it contains several kinds of vegetation which is uncommon in a traditional desert.

It has a hot summer climate which also counters the expectations of what would be found in an arid wasteland. It is clear why people want to label Death Valley as a desert.

However, further examination reveals that this geographical feature blurs the line between what we traditionally consider a desert versus something else.

What is there to do in Death Valley?

The vast and stunningly beautiful Death Valley National Park is home to some of the most incredible natural beauty in the world. Nestled in California’s Mojave Desert, this hotspot for adventure seekers is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore the great outdoors. But what is there to do in Death Valley? From sand dunes and salt flats to mountain peaks and canyons, here are seven spectacular activities that you can enjoy during your visit. 

◈ Visit Badwater Basin – Badwater Basin is one of the most iconic spots in Death Valley National Park. Located 282 feet below sea level, it holds the record as being the lowest point in North America. Even more impressive than its low altitude is its otherworldly appearance – due to its high evaporation rate, a thick layer of white salt covers much of its surface, creating an otherworldly landscape that you won’t find anywhere else. 

◈ Explore Zabriskie Point – If you’re looking for a stunning viewpoint, look no further than Zabriskie Point – an overlook located on a hilltop just outside Furnace Creek village with sweeping views of undulating hills made up of multicolored rocks, sandstone formations, and alluvial fans. It’s truly one of nature’s masterpieces! 

◈ Go Sandboarding – For those who want to add a bit of thrill and excitement to their trip, sandboarding at Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes is a must-do activity! Whether you go alone or with friends, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience as you slide down these massive dunes while taking in breathtaking views of the valley below. 

◈ Hike through Golden Canyon – For those seeking an adventure into Death Valley’s rugged terrain, Golden Canyon offers plenty of opportunities for exploration! With miles of trails winding through red rock walls and sandy washes lined with Joshua trees and creosote bushes, this canyon’s beauty will captivate even the most experienced hikers! 

◈ Tour Ubehebe Crater – Ubehebe Crater is one of Death Valley’s most remarkable geological features a gigantic half-mile wide crater created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago! Take a tour around its rim for unparalleled views into this ancient crater before heading down into its depths via an easy hike along its steep walls! 

◈ Spot Wildlife at Dante’s View – Dante’s View offers visitors one of the best places in Death Valley National Park to take in breathtaking panoramic views from 4500 feet above sea level! It’s also home to many animals such as bighorn sheep, coyotes, jackrabbits, and lizards so keep your eyes peeled while exploring this magical spot! 

◈ Take a Dip at Devil’s Hole Pool – After all that hiking and exploring you’ll be ready for some rest which can be found at Devil’s Hole Pool! This refreshing pool has been naturally carved out by centuries worth of erosion; now it provides visitors with a perfect place for swimming or simply relaxing after a long day spent out on the trails!

What should I pack for a trip to Death Valley?

Are you ready to explore the vast beauty of one of the hottest places on earth? If you’re planning a trip to Death Valley National Park, make sure your packing list is up to date. With temperatures ranging from 120°F (49°C) in summer months, it’s important to be prepared with the right items. Here are seven things that should be at the top of your list when packing for a trip to Death Valley. 

➲ Sunscreen – The sun in Death Valley can be harsh and unforgiving, so sunscreen is essential if you’re planning on exploring this unique desert landscape. Make sure you bring a high-SPF sunscreen that provides UVA and UVB protection. It’s also a good idea to bring sun-protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses, as well as lip balm with SPF protection. 

➲ Water – Staying hydrated is key when visiting Death Valley, especially during the hotter months. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you and keep yourself hydrated throughout your visit. You should also carry electrolyte tablets or powder in case you become dehydrated or suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

➲ Food – While there are some restaurants near Death Valley National Park, it’s always best to bring your own food for camping trips or day hikes. Bring snacks that don’t require refrigeration and can provide quick energy on long hikes, such as trail mix, energy bars, dried fruit, etc., and make sure they are sealed in airtight containers or bags so they last longer in the extreme temperatures of Death Valley.

➲ First Aid Kit – It’s always important to have a first aid kit handy when visiting remote areas like Death Valley National Park. Make sure your first aid kit includes bandages and gauze pads, scissors and tweezers; antiseptic wipes; antibiotic ointment; pain relievers; antihistamine tablets; insect repellent; sunscreen; flashlight; whistle; compass; extra batteries; fire starter equipment (matches/lighter); maps/guidebooks; rope/paracord/duct tape, etc.; survival knife/multi-tool, etc.; space blanket (for warmth); garbage bags (for waterproofing); signal mirror, etc.

➲ Flashlight – Flashlights are essential for navigating through dark areas or finding items at night when camping out in Death Valley National Park. Look for headlamps rather than traditional flashlights since they free up both hands while illuminating any area beneath your feet so there’s no need for an extra hand holding the light source.

➲ Hiking Gear – Make sure your hiking gear is lightweight yet durable enough for rough terrain and changeable weather conditions present in Death Valley National Park. A good pair of hiking boots with ankle support is essential if you plan on going off-trail or doing more challenging hikes while visiting this incredible desert landscape! Additionally, bring sunglasses, hats, lightweight layers, trekking poles, insect repellent, water bottle(s), map/guidebook, compass / GPS device, emergency shelter such as a tarp and poncho, etc., depending on what kind of activities you plan on doing during your visit.

➲ Camera – Don’t forget to pack a camera so that you can capture all the amazing views during your trip! Whether it’s an ordinary point-and-shoot camera or a professional DSLR model – whatever fits into your budget – make sure it’s properly charged before leaving home and have plenty of memory cards ready! Also consider bringing some additional accessories such as spare batteries, chargers, lens cleaning supplies, etc., if available!  

Are there any lodging options in Death Valley?

If you plan to venture into this desert oasis, you won’t need to fear running out of places to stay or having a lack of options.

Whether you desire the convenience of a hotel or want completely off-the-grid camping, there are plenty of spots to customize your stay in Death Valley.

Hotels such as the Furnace Creek Inn provide amenities for tourists who want a more luxurious feel during their stay, while more isolated campgrounds make it possible for visitors to connect with nature and explore the National Park without interruption.

Whatever end of the lodging spectrum appeals to you, Death Valley has something for everyone.

Is it safe to drive through Death Valley in July?

For visitors, driving through its rugged terrain can be a frightening experience, especially during the hottest months of the year.

July temperatures regularly reach over 110 degrees Fahrenheit making it a danger zone even for experienced drivers. Despite this fact, many brave adventurers choose to drive through Death Valley during July despite the high risk.

While it is not recommended due to its extremely harsh conditions, proactive steps can be taken to make sure your journey is as safe as possible. Make sure your car has adequate air conditioning and plenty of water for passengers so you don’t get dehydrated in the uncontrollable heatwave outside.

Of course, no matter how much preparation you take, driving through Death Valley in July remains a potentially dangerous activity that should only be attempted with extreme caution.

How can I avoid the worst of the summer weather in Death Valley?

If you’re planning a summer trip to Death Valley, you know that temperatures can reach extreme highs. While it’s possible to enjoy the unique beauty of this desert region, it is important to take precautions against the scorching heat. Here are seven tips for beating the summer heat in Death Valley and staying safe during your visit. 

✳ Stay Hydrated – One of the most important things you can do when visiting Death Valley is staying hydrated. Drink at least one gallon of water per day during your stay, and make sure to bring plenty with you on any trips outside of your hotel or campground. 

✳ Wear Sun Protection – Wearing sun protection is essential when visiting any desert region, but especially so in Death Valley. Invest in a long-sleeved shirt, wide-brimmed hat, and sunglasses that offer UV protection—and don’t forget the sunscreen.

✳ Know the Weather Conditions – Before embarking on any outdoor activities, be sure to check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. Temperatures can vary significantly between different parts of Death Valley, so make sure you know what you’ll be facing before venturing out into the desert heat. 

✳ Avoid High-Activity Times – Try to limit strenuous activities like hiking or biking during peak hours (10 am – 4 pm) when temperatures are likely to be highest; instead opt for early morning or late afternoon excursions when temperatures drop a bit lower into more manageable levels. 

✳ Carry Plenty of Water – If you’re planning an outdoor activity such as hiking, make sure to bring plenty of water with you—at least one gallon per person for every hour spent outdoors in direct sunlight should be enough to keep everyone hydrated without weighing down your backpack too much.

✳ Avoid Unnecessary Travel – When traveling through Death Valley, try to avoid driving at night or during peak hours (10 am – 4 pm). Not only will this reduce your chances of getting lost or stranded while navigating unfamiliar terrain, it will also help ensure that temperatures remain cool enough for comfortable travel throughout your journey.

✳ Take Breaks Often – Even if you are just driving through Death Valley, it’s important to take regular breaks throughout your journey and get out and stretch your legs every couple of hours or so; this will help keep your body temperature regulated and prevent heat exhaustion from setting in too quickly.

How many days are enough for Death Valley?

Spending even a few days exploring Death Valley National Park can be a surreal and eye-opening experience. With its vast array of sand dunes, salt flats, and towering mountain peaks, the desert landscape of this national park provides an incredible backdrop for adventure.

Whether one is going on a multi-day sightseeing tour or a more leisurely camping trip, two to three days in Death Valley are enough to take in vast swaths of breathtaking scenery while still leaving plenty of time for fun activities like hiking, star-gazing, and enjoying panoramic views.

Although visitors may come away wishing they’d had more time to explore the park’s rugged terrain and diverse wildlife, they will undoubtedly leave with plenty of unforgettable memories as well as an appreciation for all that Death Valley has to offer.


While Death Valley is an amazing National Park to explore, the worst time of year to visit is during its hot summer months. Temperatures are commonly over 120F and some days it can reach up to 134F even in the shade.

The immense heat combined with lack of available potable water makes this a poor time of year to visit. It’s instead better to plan your trip for either spring or fall when temperatures are milder and more survivable.

It may be necessary to bring extra water and sunscreen, but given the incredible views, hikes, and history that awaits you, it is worth planning your trip accordingly so that you can get the most out of your experience.

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Colin Borden wanderlust takes him to stunningly beautiful places, where he delights in discovering new cultures and cuisines. With a passion for storytelling and a vivid imagination, Colin captures his experiences through heartfelt words that bring his adventures to life.
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