How Hot Does It Get In Death Valley?

A common daily high temperature during the summer months often goes above 120°F (49°C).

Some of the highest temperatures on Earth have been recorded here  – these deadly-high temperatures are slightly higher than those recorded in the Sahara Desert or other deserts in the world.

The hottest air temperature on record was 134°F (56°C) on July 10, 1913, at Greenland Ranch (now Furnace Creek). This is the highest atmospheric temperature ever recorded on earth.

(Furnace Creek is where the National Park Service’s Visitor Center is located; Greenland Ranch is the site of an old mining town there.)

So it gets pretty hot here. Death Valley is one of the most famous places in the world because of the incredibly high daytime air temperatures.

My name is Marty, I live in Las Vegas, and I’m a tour guide. I take guests to see some of the most stunning landscapes in the west. Most tours from Las Vegas take us to Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce, Hoover Dam, Area 51, Valley of Fire, and others.

I love them all, and no place I have ever been can be compared with Badwater Basin or Furnace Creek.

How hot does it get in Death Valley? The highest temperature I have personally experienced here is 129°F (54°C).

I remember one day in August a few years back driving south from Scotty’s Castle toward Furnace Creek. This ride was a special private road trip, a family tour with my wife and my son, Craig.

Craig was about 25 then and was soaking it all in. He was in the passenger seat, and it was his first time to see – and feel – the experience of that deep heat of the Mojave Desert.

Several times as we drove down those long empty roads he would put the window down, and leaning out, he would put his face into that hot desert wind.

Craig had grown up and spent most of his life in the Pacific Northwest, where it rains all the time, something like 300 days a year of clouds and rain, and fog and general gray-ness. He had never in his life experienced anything like the feel of that desert air and the intensity of the heat.

Of course, he wasn’t able to have his face out in the hot desert air of Death Valley for very long, maybe two minutes at a time, and then he was back inside with the window up.

He repeated this several times during that ride.

When we got to the Twenty Mule Team area, we got out and explored, took the hike around the wagons and old equipment, and maybe stayed out a total of 15 minutes or so.

It was 121°F when we got to National Park Visitor Center at Furnace Creek. We stayed inside to cool off for a while, took a little break for water, restrooms, the short movie, and exhibits.

After that, we took the short drive to the Furnace Creek Ranch for lunch.

Then Devil’s Golf Course, Badwater Basin, Artist’s Palette, Zabriskie Point, several other places along the way back toward Las Vegas.

It was an amazing road trip, truly a desert adventure. Not just memorable – it was unforgettable. We talk about it still, must be 15 years later.

Over the years, guests would share their experiences and stories of the day with me, what they enjoyed about it, or didn’t. Those who went with me to Death Valley in the summer months would try to find words to describe their experience and had a hard time doing so.

Feelings are impossible to describe with words – in the same way, we need a photograph to have a better understanding that one thousand words cannot create.

I remember folks from the colder countries of Europe, the Germans and Scandanavians, the Brits, and others, who would say things like “I never felt so truly and deeply warm like that before in my entire life!”

How hot does it get in Death Valley? Here are some interesting bits you might enjoy, from a few articles I found for you:

“Furnace Creek posts hottest month ever recorded on Earth, for the second July in a row.”

how hot does it get in death valley temperature 130F 54C tours from las vegas
A couple poses at the Furnace Creek Visitor Center thermometer. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Last July (2017), the National Park Service at Furnace Creek endured (and recorded) the hottest month ever measured on the planet. The next July (2018) ended up slightly hotter.

Between the day and night temperatures at Furnace Creek, the average was 108.1 degrees; this was slightly higher than the year before by about a half-degree F.

The record high in July 2017 had broken a record that stood for 100 years.

Searing heat in July, is, of course, the norm. So it might be hard to contemplate it being unusually hot in such a place. But the temperature in July 2018 averaged nearly six degrees above the average of 102.2.

How Hot Does It Get In Death Valley?

Consider some of these heat numbers for July 2018:

  • The high temperature hit at least 120 degrees on 21 days, sailing past the normal high of 116.5 degrees.
  • From July 24 to 27, the high soared to 127 degrees setting records on each of those four dates. This mark was not far from the location’s highest reliable temperature measurement in recent decades of 129 set on June 30, 2013.
  • The low temperature remained above 100 degrees for 10 days of those days.

The measurements come from Furnace Creek, in the heart of the valley, at 190 feet below sea level. It has been the official weather station for more than 100 years, dating back to 1911. (Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level, even lower than Furnace Creek – isolated, desolate, they do not measure the temperature there.)

Death Valley is famous for holding the record for hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

As mentioned above, this was measured on July 10, 1913, at 134°F (56.7°C). However, that measurement has been questioned by some. There are a few climatologists who believe the 129-degree temperature logged in June 2013 is the highest temperature reliably measured there and anywhere on the planet.

Top-10 hottest months – recorded at Furnace Creek. (Ian Livingston/The Washington Post)

So, according to records, there was one day in July 1913 when the high temperature did not even hit 100°F (38°C) and there were also two nights with lows of 70°F (21°C).

In 2018, the ‘lowest, high-temperature’ was 100°F (45°C) and, even at night, it was never cooler than 100°F.

The Weather Channel has a great video on YouTube to explain – How and Why Death Valley Gets So Hot. I had been driving tours from Las Vegas for maybe 6 years or so when I first saw this video. It helped me explain this phenomenon to guests from around the world.

Discover How You Can Safely Experience This Intense Heat Even In The Summer Extremes – Year-Round, Any Season – Tours from Las Vegas

Sources (In addition, of course, to my own experiences, Martin McUber, as a Las Vegas Tour Guide: