National park tips: They call it Death Valley and still, crowds come in summer. Beware.

These cyclists chose December for a 2014 ride near Furnace Creek in Death Valley.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Yes, I know, this seems obvious in a place bearing the name Death Valley National Park, but this spot can be dangerous. In July and August, park temperatures routinely approach 120 degrees (with overnight lows in the 90s). But believe it or not, apart from May (122,137 visitors), Death Valley’s busiest months in 2015 were July (113,672) and August (111,467).

Many of those visitors were Europeans with little desert experience, but some were Americans who underestimated the heat. For decades, The Inn at Furnace Creek, the park’s most comfortable lodging, has curtailed its services in hotter months. But from May through October 2017, the inn will close for an expansion and upgrade designed to make it a year-round operation.


Oct. 31, 2016: This article was updated to include the Furnace Creek Inn’s October announcement of plans for year-round operations.
This article was originally published Oct. 16, 2016.


READ: In Death Valley, a Jeep, back roads and a whole new perspective »


Weird science, quirky history and plain fun lurk in the 3.4 million acres that make up Death Valley National Park.

In honor of this year’s National Park Service centennial, the Travel section is posting 100 park travel ideas and tips based on trips staff travel writer Christopher Reynolds has taken, along with photo-op advice from Times photographer Mark Boster. We’ll post one per day through Dec. 31.

Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds


See travel videos by Reynolds from around the world.


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