For tourists, the hotter, the better at Death Valley

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK — The heat stung like pins and needles. Arid winds whipped the faces of tourists swigging water and sweating through their clothes in the hottest place in North America.

They didn’t mind too much. After all, that’s why they came here. Most are tourists, some traveling across the globe to get to the park. A few run marathons in the brutal heat. Others just take it all in, calling it “a dream” to witness and experience.

They got what they came for Thursday as the official temperature soared to 127 degrees at 4:42 p.m., tying a record for the date set in 1933, according to the National Weather Service. Highs also reached 127 Tuesday and Wednesday.

Death Valley’s all-time record is 134 degrees, set July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek. That marks the hottest atmospheric temperature ever recorded on Earth.

On Thursday, park visitors found ways to cope with the heat. French tourists huddled under a pink umbrella. Austrian tourists hid under their straw hats. Men peeled off their shirts, using them as shields for bald heads, and slid sunglasses over their T-shirt-covered ears.

Going to extremes

Summer months at Death Valley can be among the park’s busiest, drawing many international tourists, particularly Europeans, park spokeswoman Abigail Wines said.

July, August and September were the busiest months for the park last year, she said.

“They want to see the most extreme part of the American West,” Wines said. “They travel to experience something different than what they have at home.”

Some people underestimate the desert’s punishing heat, she said. One summer, two people dressed in Chewbacca and Darth Vader costumes were fighting in the parking lot.

“People don’t realize it can be deadly,” she said. “They think if they’re not sweating, they’re not hot. But they don’t know that they’re sweating, because it’s so dry.”

A person dies in the park from heat-related illnesses generally every other year, she said.

Last week, a 57-year-old hiker from Huntington Beach, California, fell to his death.

The Inyo County deputy coroner determined the cause of death to be a skull fracture caused by a fall, compounded by exposure to the elements.

The hottest month for the park is July, when the daily averages 116 degrees.

Another man thought he could run during the hottest part of the day and died of heat exhaustion, Wines said.

“I think ‘wind-heat factor’ should be a term,” she said. “Your whole body is in a blow dryer. It’s just hot air forced against your skin.”

‘The hotter, the better’

At the entrance to Death Valley National Park, Oliver Anne and his family from France were ready to go to Badwater Basin. They’d been planning their visit for a year.

“We wanted to get to the hottest spot,” Anne said. “The hotter, the better.”

A pamphlet titled “A Visitor Guide for Summer 2018” advises tourists to remember they’re at the “hottest place on Earth” and offers safety tips in English, French, Dutch and Italian.

At Dante’s View, 5,000 feet above Death Valley, a breeze offered slight comfort for those overlooking the salt flats below.

For Adrian Turrin, visiting from Switzerland with his wife and two kids, even the marginally cooler weather came as a relief.

“Up here, it’s better,” said the bare-chested tourist, a white T-shirt wrapped around his head.

The night before, Turrin said, the family left their RV running as they camped in the park.

It was too hot to barbecue outside, so they settled for risotto and salad inside the vehicle.

“We did not have a good night,” he said. “The heat crept through.”

Also at Dante’s View, French tourists Cecile Abin and her husband, Sebastien, posed for a photo at the top of the peak. They gave each other a peck on the lips.

“We did not imagine the heat,” Cecile Abin said. They each drank three liters of water before walking through Badwater Basin, she said.

“It feels like we’re playing a very intensive sport,” Sebastien Abin said.

It’s their first time in the United States.

“I’ve seen Western movies. Now it’s like a dream,” Cecile Abin said. “The motels, diner, desert, it looks like a movie.”

Their next destination Thursday?

“We’re driving next to the hotel, and we’re going to the swimming pool,” she said, laughing.

Not far away, a group of runners who participated in the Badwater 135 marathon lugged coolers and refilled their waters. They carried a spray bottle.

The three runners, all from Italy, said they kept hydrated by drinking electrolytes, Coca-Cola, water and beer. They needed the beer for carbohydrates, the runners said.

At Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level, the desert’s steamy heat radiated a mirage as tourists walked along the saltwater flat. A small pool of water at one end scorched the toes of a tourist from London.

Diana Senci, visiting from Holland with her husband, Matthew, hid underneath a damp white towel as she made her way back to the car.

“I did not want to come when I saw the news forecast, but he insisted,” she said of their desert trip. “It’s worth it.”

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

For more on current conditions in Las Vegas and forecasts, see the updated graphic below or go to our weather map.
News Videos
Syphilis Awareness Day
Dr. Joe Iser, District Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District, discusses the effects and issues with syphilis in the Las Vegas community on April 16, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas diocese IDs 33 ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse
The Catholic Diocese of Las Vegas released a list on Friday of 33 “credibly accused” of sexual abuse who at some point served in the Las Vegas Valley. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
CCSD Arbor View meeting
The Clark County School Board hears from the public about racial tensions at Arbor View High School on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Amelia Park-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Parents of autistic student battle Clark County School District
Joshua and Britten Wahrer, parents of a special education student, are battling the Clark County School District for the right to equip their son with a monitoring device. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New Metro homeless outreach a shift in strategy
Lt. Joe Sobrio discusses the new homeless outreach team for Metro. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prayer for Opportunity Scholarships
Las Vegas students and adults hold a prayer meeting about the Opportunity Scholarship program on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Solar scams on the rise in Nevada
As Nevada’s solar industry has made a resurgence, solar scammers have followed suit.
Clark County schools and the late bus issue
Year after year, late or no-show buses in the Clark County School District draw the ire of parents and students alike. One year the problem even prompted a parent to crack a school bus window in frustration over a late drop-off. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
I-15 southbound congested near Primm Sunday afternoon
Drivers heading toward California on Interstate 15 should expect heavy traffic and a 13-mile backup Sunday afternoon.
Learning lifesaving skills in advance of fire season
Students and firefighters attend a training session at Fire Station 80 in Blue Diamond, Saturday, March 30, 2019. The training session helps volunteer firefighters obtain necessary annual certification to work wild fires.
Car restoration behind prison walls
Inmates share their experiences working for the Southern Desert Correctional Center auto body shop in Indian Springs while learning valuable skills.
Parent remembers Las Vegas boy killed by car
People visit a memorial at the intersection of South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue at at Faiss Park Wednesday, March 27, 2019, where Jonathan Smith, 12, of Las Vegas, died after he was struck while crossing Fort Apache Monday. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Couple left with surprise medical bills after visit to the hospital
Michael Pistiner took his wife, Marta Menendez-Pistiner, to the ER in January after she fainted twice and appeared to be having a seizure. Despite paying $856 monthly for health insurance, the two, self-employed musicians, were stuck with more than $5,700 in hospital and doctor bills after than hour-and-a-half visit. Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Las Vegas police brief the media on fatal crash
Metropolitan Police Department Capt. Nick Farese addresses the media about a car accident at South Fort Apache Road and West Arby Avenue that left one minor dead and one hospitalized on Monday, March 25, 2019. (Mike Shoro/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former Arbor View parent talks about racial issues at the school
Lawanna Calhoun, a former Arbor View parent, talks about the state of the school. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jim Foley talks about 30 years of living HIV-positive
Jim Foley, who was diagnosed as HIV positive 30 years ago, talks at his home in Las Vegas on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Traffic Slows to a Crawl on I-15S Near Primm
Traffic slowed to a crawl around 2:30p Sunday, on I-15S near Primm, Nevada.
Homeless residents speak about safety
The homeless residents living at the corner of Owens Ave. and Main St. reflect on how they feel about their safety after two homeless men died, one was hit crossing the street and another was beat to death by another homeless man. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
CCSD Superintendent address alleged racially motivated threats at Arbor View
CCSD Superintendent Dr. Jesus F. Jara gives update on alleged racially motivated threats against Arbor View High School, and says such threats will not be tolerated. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Super Bloom Near Lake Elsinore, California
Crowds packed the hills near Lake Elsinore on Saturday to capture a rare selfie amidst the super bloom of poppies turning the landscape purple. The super bloom was caused by the larger rainfall this year. (Todd Prince/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Fiery accident in Las Vegas
A three-car accident on Spring Mountain Road around 6:30 pm on Monday night
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice
A bipartisan coalition holds simultaneous rallies to promote criminal justice. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Stardust implosion anniversary
Twelve years ago today, the Stardust Resort and Casino was imploded. (Mat Luschek/Review-Journal)
Lawsuits filed against security contractors at Nevada National Security Site
Two lawsuits were filed today against the current and former government security contractors for the Nevada National Security Site, one on behalf of Jennifer Glover who alleges sexual discrimination and assault and the other on behalf of Gus Redding who alleges retaliation after he gave statements supporting Glover’s claims. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
New housing option helps Las Vegas moms keep kids while kicking drugs
WestCare Nevada Women and Children’s Campus in Las Vegas has added a new transitional housing wing for women who have completed the inpatient treatment at the behavioral health nonprofit to help them as they go through outpatient treatment, shore up their finances and prepare to secure long-term housing. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Teenager in critical condition after being struck by an SUV in Henderson
Authorities were called about 2:45 p.m. to the scene in the 2100 block of Olympic Avenue, near Green Valley Parkway and Sunset Road. The teenager was taken to University Medical Center in critical condition. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Water Question Part 3: Conservation loves a crisis
Future growth in the Las Vegas Valley will rest almost entirely on the community’s ability to conserve its finite share of the Colorado River.
The Water Question Part 7: How much can we grow?
Many experts agree that Southern Nevada can continue to grow, so long as residents are willing to do what needs to be done to stretch our crucial resource as far as it will go.
The Water Question Part 6: How many people can Southern Nevada’s water sustain?
The number can swing wildly depending on a host of variables, including the community’s rates of growth, conservation efforts and the severity of drought on the Colorado River.
Mylar Balloon Demo
NV Energy presented a demonstration Wednesday to depict the damage that can be caused by the release of Mylar balloons.
TOP NEWS
ad-infeed_1x2_1
Home Front Page Footer Listing