Brutal heat wave draws curious tourists

Most of us hope for balmy weather for a summer vacation. But some adventurers want to experience the extremes.

By Kim Peterson Jul 1, 2013 3:04PM
Kevin Martin poses for a snapshot by an unofficial thermometer reading at Furnace Creek Visitor Center as a heat wave spreads across west on June 30, 2013 in Death Valley National Park, Calif. (© David McNew/Getty Images)Tourists will show up to see just about anything. Tornadoes in the Midwest. The aftermath of deadly hurricanes in the Southeast. And lately, some are flocking to experience the scorching heat in the western part of the country.

Summer is a busy time of year for Death Valley, Calif. (pictured), a region that saw the temperature soar Sunday to a 129.9, breaking the record for June.

Tourists, mostly from Europe, like to visit Death Valley to feel extreme heat, reports Chris Carlson, an Associated Press photographer who grew up outside of Palm Springs, Calif.

Carlson describes summer in Death Valley this way: "Unrelenting heat so bad it makes my eyes hurt, as if someone is blowing a hair dryer in my face."

You don't have to leave your house to experience that heat. Just find a hair dryer and go nuts. The fun will last only a few minutes, which is probably what some Death Valley tourists are finding this week.

"Tourists are out today, but they rarely emerge from their cars," Carlson wrote Saturday. "They drive through the brown, cracked landscape, peering out at the vast desert and occasionally rolling down the windows, but only briefly."

Many tourists head west to visit Yosemite National Park or the Grand Canyon. Because Death Valley National Park is between those destinations, some visitors add it to their itinerary, Carlson adds.

Death Valley is trying to prepare adventurous tourists for what they will experience. The park's website tells visitors to drink at least one gallon of water a day, avoid hiking in the heat and be prepared in order to survive. "If you feel dizzy, nauseous, or a headache, get out of the sun immediately and drink water or sports drinks," the website advises.

Sounds like a great time.

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