This post is part of Just Ahead’s Death Valley Trip Planner—our guide to everything you need to know to plan your trip to Death Valley National Park. Click here to see the complete series, and be sure to download our Just Ahead smartphone audio tour of Death Valley before you head to the park.
When is the best time to visit Death Valley? Anytime! With a caveat: Summer in Death Valley is, no surprise, hot. How hot is it? Before we get to the punch line, let’s look at the other seasons in Death Valley.
Spring in Death Valley
For most people, this is the most pleasant time to visit Death Valley. The weather is perfect—days mostly in the 70s and 80s, nights in the 50s and 60s. Those temps warm up to the 90s in late April and can start hitting 100 in May. If there’s been a dollop or two of winter rain, wildflowers will be abundant in early spring. Spring is also the park’s busiest season, so be sure to reserve your lodging in advance. If you’re camping, know that most sites are first-come, first-served, though you can book sites at Furnace Creek Campground in advance through recreation.gov. Click here for our advice about camping in Death Valley. And click here to learn about Death Valley lodging.
Fall in Death Valley
Fall starts in October in Death Valley, when summer temperatures taper down to the 90s during the day and the 60s at night. It’s a great time to camp in the park, and Furnace Creek Inn, the park’s nicest lodge, reopens. Rangers programs and guided hikes are in full swing. And it’s relatively uncrowded, though Thanksgiving is an obvious exception. The time of the Death Valley ’49ers Encampment is also busy. The encampment, which takes place at Furnace Creek in early November, is a five-day festival of old-time western music, western art, 4×4 tours, and other events that honor the pioneer spirit of Death Valley.
Winter in Death Valley
Yes, it can get cool in Death Valley. Winter days are typically in the 60s, with lows in the 40s. Winter occasionally brings rain to the valley and is likely to bring snow to the Panamint Mountains—usually enough to coat the top of Telescope Peak (11,049 feet) in white. Everything is in full gear throughout the winter, when the only downside is the short days—a little less time to enjoy hiking and driving. Holiday weekends are, of course, very busy.
Summer in Death Valley
How hot is it? Not hot enough to dissuade more than 100,000 visitors a month in the hottest months of the year. This is one of the mind-blowing wonders of Death Valley—July often sees nearly twice as many visitors as November. Here are the average daytime highs for summer:
- May: 101
- June: 110
- July: 117
- August: 115
- September: 107
And those are just averages. The temperature very often exceeds 120. Why is it so popular in these months? The answer is that European visitors are fascinated with the extremes of the American West, including Death Valley’s heat. So if you want to get in on the fun and meet visitors from all over the world, by all means visit in summer. Modern cars have no trouble pumping out air-conditioning as you drive and listen to the Just Ahead tour of the park. Lodges at Furnace Creek Ranch, Stovepipe Wells, and Panamint Springs are all open, as is the park visitor center at Furnace Creek. As for camping, well, summer daytime lows are in the 80s. Camping on the valley floor would be a pretty miserable experience. But the mountain campgrounds—Thorndike (7,400 feet) and Mahogany Flat (8,200 feet)—are very pleasant. Click here for our advice about camping in Death Valley. And whether you’re camping or not, summer is a fine time to see high-country sights like the Charcoal Kilns, Ageureberry Point, and Eureka Mine, and to hike Wildrose Peak. All of which we tell you all about in the Just Ahead tour of Death Valley National Park.
Not convinced? Click here to read 10 Reasons to Visit Death Valley in summer.
To see our complete Death Valley Trip Planner series, click here.