Hotels in Death Valley are packed with visitors wanting to experience some of the hottest temperatures ever measured on the planet. As a historic heat wave engulfs the West, Death Valley hit 124 degrees on Saturday, and could eventually tie or surpass the 134-degree record it made in the summer of 1913.
Chris Carlson, an Associated Press photographer, explains what it’s like to be in triple-digit heat:
I know what to expect in Death Valley: Unrelenting heat so bad it makes my eyes hurt, as if someone is blowing a hair dryer in my face. I don’t leave CDs or electronics in the car because they could melt or warp. I always carry bottles of water.
But I still make mistakes. I forgot my oven mitts, the desert driving trick I learned as a teenager after burning my hands too many times on the steering wheel. And my rental car is black, adding several degrees to the outside temperature of 127. When the digital thermometer at the Furnace Creek visitor center ticks up to 128, a few people jump out of their cars to take a picture.
But how does a picture prove you were in a place with extreme heat? Tourists are having fun frying eggs on rocks, baking cookies in their rental cars and watching their shoes melt. If that sounds like fun to you, there are two hotels in Death Valley. Be sure to call ahead and ask about vacancies. This is one place you don’t want to get stranded.