Death Valley National Park DEATH VALLEY, Nichole Andler – From July 14 through 30th, Death Valley National Park at Furnace Creek tied the third longest heat wave in the park’s history, with daily highs of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48.9 Celsius) or more. During the 17-day period, daytime highs were 121 to 128 degrees. Overnight low temperatures were 90 to 102 degrees. This is the longest streak of temperatures in 94 years.
The month of July is often the park’s hottest month of the year. Preliminary data suggests that July 2023 will be the second hottest July on record at an average temperature of 107.6 degrees, second only to 108.1 in 2018.
While data is interesting to read, it also has a message. In Death Valley, 7 of the ten hottest summers on record have come in the last ten years. Many of the plants and animals that live in Death Valley are living at the edge of survival. Even a slight increase in temperature or change in weather patterns could have a negative impact on plant and animal populations.
There may be no better example of these impacts than the famed Great Basin bristlecone pines. Bristlecones in the park are at the extreme southwestern edge of their range, making them uniquely vulnerable to climate change. Bristlecones were previously thought to be highly resistant to bark beetle attacks. However, reduced annual precipitation, prolonged drought, and warmer winter temperatures have made these trees increasingly vulnerable resulting in a 70% mortality rate on the eastern slopes of Telescope Peak over the past decade.
Travelers to Death Valley should come prepared. Make sure you drink about 4 liters per person per day, eat salty snacks, stay on paved roads and do not hike at lower elevations after 10 am.
Planning a visit to Death Valley in summer has a lot to offer, with scenic views, photography, and exploring the stories of Death Valley at the visitor center and park store. Visit the park website to learn more about safely visiting the park.