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Death Valley is a land of foreboding extremes, renowned for its brutal midsummer temperatures (the highest ever recorded on earth). This vast desert landscape occupies a sunken trough that is the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere (282 feet below sea level). Rugged, purple-hued mountains rise on all sides, reaching over 11,000 feet. In spring, wildflowers bloom in spectacular profusion and snows glisten majestically atop the peaks.

There are a surprising number of eclectic attractions besides the raw physical beauty, including vast sand dunes of Stovepipe Wells and the salt pinnacles called Devil's Golf Course. Borax was ...

Death Valley is a land of foreboding extremes, renowned for its brutal midsummer temperatures (the highest ever recorded on earth). This vast desert landscape occupies a sunken trough that is the lowest elevation in the Western Hemisphere (282 feet below sea level). Rugged, purple-hued mountains rise on all sides, reaching over 11,000 feet. In spring, wildflowers bloom in spectacular profusion and snows glisten majestically atop the peaks.

There are a surprising number of eclectic attractions besides the raw physical beauty, including vast sand dunes of Stovepipe Wells and the salt pinnacles called Devil's Golf Course. Borax was discovered here in 1873: the ruins of the Harmony Borax Works can still be seen, and you can explore Scotty's Castle, a huge mansion built atop a "secret gold mine." You can even play a round of golf on the world's lowest golf course at Furnace Creek.

But the main raison d'etre for any visit is to exalt in Mother Nature's handiwork. The best time to visit is winter and early spring, before the fierce heat of summer sets in. A visit takes some planning: take lots of water!

Christopher Baker
About the Expert

Christopher P. Baker has authored guidebooks to Costa Rica, California, and various Caribbean islands for Frommer's, Lonely Planet, and National Geographic, among others.

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Christopher Baker for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Winter and early spring. Avoid summer, if possible, due to extreme heat.