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'Extreme' destination is home of world's hottest temperature where entire lakes dry up

In the sprawling northern Mojave Desert, near the border of California and Nevada in the US, is Death Valley – an area known for its “extremes” and perhaps most famously for being the location of the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth.

From the highest temperature to the lowest point in the US, the Badwater Basin at 282 feet below sea level, Death Valley is an incredibly unique area.

The driest place in America, the crazy heat experienced in the valley is thought to be the result of the lack of water, geography, and materials that make up the valley combined.

At the time of writing, Death Valley is thought to be the home of the hottest temperature ever recorded on Earth, back in 1913.

The accolade is based upon an air temperature reading, which registered the desert landscape as being an incredible 56.7C on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek Ranch, in Death Valley.

However, in recent years there has been speculation over just how accurate this result is. For 90 years, a former “highest temperature” record measured in Libya had been in place, but this was decertified in 2012 after evidence that it was an erroneous reading came to light.

Though this finding pushed Death Valley to the top spot, it also raised questions among some experts of how accurate the 1913 reading was. For now, though the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) continues to honour it.

Even in recent years, the temperature has almost climbed to similar levels. In July of 2023, while California experienced an extreme heat warning, Death Valley’s thermometer rose to 53.3C.

Water does sometimes accumulate in the area, particularly in the Badwater Basin which turns into the temporary Lake Manly, but tends to dry up within a matter of weeks due to the high temperature.

Despite this, the most recent Lake Manly had remained in place for half a year, which has left scientists scratching their heads. “Most of us thought the lake would be gone by October,” Death Valley park ranger Abby Wines said in a NPS statement in February. “We were shocked to see it still here after almost six months.”

While you might think that such a scorching, dry landscape might turn people away, it’s quite the opposite. According to the latest data from the National Park Service (NSP) over 1,100,000 people visited Death Valley National Park last year. Brave souls can even pitch a tent and camp over in the desert valley.


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