Tourists Drawn to Death Valley's Summer Heat - 8 News NOW

Tourists Drawn to Death Valley's Summer Heat

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FURNACE CREEK, Calif. -- If you thought last week's 117 was hot, imagine 134 degrees Fahrenheit, the record for the hottest temperature to have ever occurred on Earth.

It happened exactly 100 years ago – July 10, 1913 -- in Death Valley.

Death Valley remains a popular tourist destination during one of the most unlikely seasons: summer.

During 8 News NOW's recent visit to Death Valley, 127 degrees shut off the crew's cell phones.

Death Valley's 134 degree record stands unbroken.

Two weekends ago, it came close when the mercury reached 129 degrees.

But why is the summer so popular among tourists and why on earth would anyone want to live there?

At Furnace Creek, 191 feet below sea level, Gavin Cork and his family visited from Europe.

"We never experienced this kind of heat in the past, so we're excited about it," Cork said.

They could have gone anywhere this summer, but they chose the hottest place on Earth.

"I think the extremes are just kind of interesting," Cork said. "I mean, you want to see the extremes."

So do many others.

In July of 1913, Death Valley experienced temperatures hotter than any place in the world. And on July 10 that same year, Death Valley reached the whopping 134 degrees.

Park ranger Cheryl Chipman said a century ago, Death Valley was so hot, it was almost uninhabitable.

"The record says birds were falling from the sky, it was so hot," Chipman said. "During the week, there was several days that reached 130."

At 127 degrees, the sounds of creaking could be heard in the cliffs.

"The salt flats are drying out," Chipman said. "There's constant evaporation, so there's cracking in the earth."

It seems few things can live in these dry, desolate conditions. But those that do seek shelter in the day.

For instance, Death Valley resident Phil Dickenson.

"This place grabs a hold of you," Dickenson said. "I thought I'd be here only two years, and I've been here over 15. You can fall in love with Death Valley National Park.

"What people tend to forget is, Death Valley isn't always unbearably hot. We have a couple of months out of the year when it is 62 to 65 degrees here in December and January."

Death Valley National Park gets more than a million visitors a year and is the largest national park at over 3 million acres.

It's not only the hottest in the world, but the driest in the nation and some years there's no rain at all.

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