Adventurous Places

Death Valley

Written by Sudhir Kumar

Death Valley is famous as the hottest and driest place in North America. Summer temperatures often top 120°F (49°C) in the shade with overnight lows dipping into the 90s°F (mid 30s°C.) Average rainfall is less than 2 inches (5cm), a fraction of what most deserts recieve. Occasional thunderstorms, especially in late summer, can cause flash floods.In contrast to the extremes of summertime, winter and spring are very pleasant. Winter daytime temperatures are mild in the low elevations, with cool nights that only occasionally reach freezing. Higher elevations are cooler than the low valley. Temperatures drop 3 to 5°F (2-3°C) with every thousand vertical feet (approx. 300m). Sunny skies are the norm in Death Valley, but winter storms and summer monsoons can bring cloud cover and rain. Wind is common in the desert, especially in the spring. Dust storms can suddenly blow up with approaching cold fronts.

Geology of Death Valley

Death Valley is one of the best geological examples of a basin and range configuration. It lies at the southern end of a geological trough known asWalker Lane, which runs north into Oregon. The valley is bisected by a right lateral strike slip fault system, represented by the Death Valley Faultand the Furnace Creek Fault. The eastern end of the left lateral Garlock Fault intersects the Death Valley Fault. Furnace Creek and theAmargosa River flow through the valley but eventually disappear into the sands of the valley floor.Death Valley also contains salt pans. According to current geological consensus, during the middle of the Pleistocene era there was a succession of inland seas (collectively referred to as Lake Manly) located where Death Valley is today. As the area turned to desert the water evaporated, leaving behind the abundance of evaporitic salts such as common sodium salts and borax, which were subsequently exploited during the modern history of the region, primarily 1883 to 1907.This process is especially important in Death Valley as it provides its specific climate and geography. The valley is surrounded by mountains, while its surface is mostly flat and devoid of plants, and of which a high percentage of the sun’s heat is able to reach the ground, absorbed by soil and rock. When air at ground level is heated, it begins to rise, moving up past steep high mountain ranges, which then cools slightly, sinking back down towards the valley more compressed USA Travel Places. This air is then reheated by the sun to a higher temperature, moving up the mountain again, whereby the air moves up and down in a circular motion in cycles, similar to how a convection oven works, albeit a natural one. This superheated air increases ground temperature markedly, forming the hot wind currents that are trapped by atmospheric pressure and mountains, thus stays mostly within the valley. Such hot wind currents contribute to perpetual drought-like conditions in Death Valley and prevent much cloud formation to pass through the confines of the valley, where precipitation is often in the form of a virga. Death Valley holds temperature records because it has an unusually high number of factors that lead to high atmospheric temperatures.


Located in the center of the park, the Furnace Creek Visitor Center houses museum exhibits, a visitor information desk, and the Death Valley Natural History Association bookstore.There is a contact and fee collection station at Stovepipe Wells Village with a Natural History Association book sales outlet.The tour ticket office at Scotty’s Castle also has a book sales outlet and a small museum with displays from the Castle collection.


Death Valley is the hottest place in North America, according to the National Park Service, with highest temperatures coming in July, when the average is 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Actual highs often top 120 degrees and the record high was 134 degrees in July of 1913. The highest recorded ground temperature was in Furnace Springs and registered 201 degrees. During summer nights, the temperature drops a little below 90 degrees. The coolest months are December and January, when the average high is only 65 degrees and can drop at night to below 40 on average, with occasional dips below freezing. Death Valley is a Adventure Place For Vacations.

Average Precipitation

The National Park Service also lists Death Valley as the driest place in North America, with annual rainfall averaging only 1.92 inches. Most of what little rain that falls in the valley comes between January and March, with February as the wettest month, averaging just over a third of an inch. Rare fierce storms will dump considerable amounts of rainwater into the valley on occasion. Because this water has no place to runoff, it pools in the usually dry, salty lake beds around the valley until the air temperature rises enough to evaporate the shallow inland seas. The average annual snowfall is 1 inch, all of which occurs from late December to mid-January and only at night, melting early in the day.

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Sudhir Kumar

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