Death Valley Climate and Typical Weather

Death Valley is a once in a lifetime experience, but there's a reason why it's one of the worst RV destinations

David Toussaint / Moment / Getty Images

If you want to know what Death Valley weather might be during your trip, some information about typical Death Valley climate may be helpful. In general, summer is too hot to do anything but drive around seeing the sights in air-conditioned comfort. In the winter, you might encounter rain. Spring and fall, along with non-rainy winter days are the best time to go.

01 of 08

Death Valley's Desert Climate

Death Valley National Park
Chris Murray / Getty Images

Death Valley is on the border between the Mojave and Great Basin Deserts. It's the hottest place on earth and the driest spot in North America, getting less than 2 inches of rain per year on average.

In any season, if you find it too hot on the valley floor, go up. Temperatures drop by 3 to 5°F for every 1,000 feet of elevation. That makes Ubehebe Crater and Scotty's Castle 10 to 15°F cooler than Badwater or Furnace Creek.

What to Pack Any Time of Year: Expect dry conditions, with daytime humidity that ranges from 10 percent in the summer to 32 percent in the winter.

In any season, you will need lots of lotion, moisturizer, and eye drops. If your nose dries out easily, saline nose spray can help keep it moister. And if your hair tends to fall flat in dry weather, bring additional products to keep it fluffed up.

It's hard to stay hydrated. If you plan to do a driving tour, pack a small, collapsible ice chest to carry a few cold drinks and snacks. Sturdy shoes with thick soles and good traction are essential if you plan to go hiking.

Cooling neck wraps are a big help on hot days. Sold at sporting goods stores and online, they contain a gel that soaks up water, then keeps you cool as it evaporates. Small, personal misters are also a big help.

Use these tips to get more ideas about what you might need to pack.

This packing tip has nothing to do with the weather, but the dining room at the Inn at Death Valley (formerly Furnace Creek Inn), has a dinner dress code: “Resort attire” is required and t-shirts and tank tops are not allowed.

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02 of 08

Fast Climate Facts

  • Hottest Months: July and August (115 to 116 F)
  • Coldest Months: December and January (65 to 67 F)
  • Wettest Month: February (0.37 inches)
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03 of 08

Urgent Seasonal Information

Stay Safe in Summer Heat: Death Valley is hot in summer; there's no doubt about it. These are the statistics: The highest temperature in world history was 135°F, recorded at Death Valley in July 1913. And according to the National Park Service, you might literally be able to cook something on the sidewalk: The highest ground temperature at Death Valley was 200°F at Furnace Creek on July 15, 1972. The maximum air temperature for that day was 126°F.

High temperatures can worsen conditions like high blood pressure and limit the effectiveness of some medications. Otherwise healthy people can also experience heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and potentially deadly heat strokes.

It's best to avoid strenuous activities, stay in the shade, keep cool, and drink plenty of fluids.

Beware of Floods When It Rains: It doesn't often rain in Death Valley, and an average monthly rainfall of less than an inch sounds unremarkable. But don't let that fool you.

Flash floods are a danger any time it rains. The desert soil gets so dry that water does not soak in, turning almost every drop of it into runoff, which collects and gushes through valleys and dry washes. During heavy rains, flooding can start almost immediately.

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04 of 08

Death Valley in Spring

Wildflowers in Death Valley
Christine Warner Hawks/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Spring is an excellent time to go to Death Valley, although daytime highs start climbing toward triple digits by May.

Spring wildflowers are a big attraction, but don't let recent reports fool you into thinking they come out every year. It takes a rainy winter — and rain at the right time — to bring out those impressive floral displays which usually peak between late March and early April. Check the National Park website for wildflower updates.

What to Pack: See the general packing notes above and choose your wardrobe for the temperatures below. Layers are essential to cope with temperature variations.

Check the short-range forecast for rain before you pack your suitcase.

Temperatures and Rainfall by Month

  • March: 82 F / 55 F / 0.22 in
  • April: 90 F / 62 F / 0.12 in
  • May: 100 F / 73 F / 0.07 in
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05 of 08

Death Valley in Summer

Most visitors avoid Death Valley in summer, although a hearty few go there just to experience the extreme temperatures. The most you may want to do is drive through the park in an air-conditioned vehicle.

Before you decide to go, check the summer heat cautions above.

What to Pack: See the general packing notes above and choose your wardrobe for the temperatures below. Layers are essential to cope with temperature variations.

Temperatures and Rainfall by Month

  • June: 110 F / 81 F / 0.03 in
  • July: 116 F / 88 F / 0.11 in
  • August: 115 F / 86 F / 0.11 in
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06 of 08

Death Valley in Fall

Sunset at Death Valley
Darrel Liu/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

By October, Death Valley cools down from summer's scorching highs. The park is relatively uncrowded in September and October, but still quite hot as the season begins. It gets busier during the weeks leading up to the Death Valley '49ers Encampment (second week in November), and the Thanksgiving holidays are busy.

What to Pack: See the general packing notes above and choose your wardrobe for the temperatures below. Layers are essential to cope with temperature variations.

You are unlikely to need an umbrella or raincoat, although you should check the short-range forecast before you pack your suitcase.

Temperatures and Rainfall by Month

  • September: 106 F / 76 F / 0.14 in
  • October: 93 F / 61 F / 0.10 in
  • November: 77 F / 48 F / 0.17 in
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07 of 08

Death Valley in Winter

Rainstorm in Death Valley

 Alex Reitter / EyeEm/Getty Images

Winter is the perfect time to visit Death Valley, weather-wise. Daytime temperatures will be comfortable, and even better, the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the least crowded time of the year.

What to Pack: See the general packing notes above. See the general packing notes above and choose your wardrobe for the temperatures below. Layers are essential to cope with temperature variations. Check the short-range forecast for rain before you pack your suitcase and see the precautions about floods above.

Temperatures and Rainfall by Month

  • December: 65 F / 38 F / 0.19 in
  • January: 67 F / 40 F / 0.27 in
  • February: 73 F / 46 F / 0.37 in
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08 of 08

Death Valley Climate Graph

Average climate in Death Valley National Park (English Units)
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