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Tourists still flock to Death Valley amid searing US heat wave blamed for several deaths

Hundreds of Europeans touring the American West and adventurers from around the U.S. are still being drawn to Death Valley National Park, even though the desolate region known as one of the Earth’s hottest places is being punished by a dangerous heat wave blamed for a motorcyclist’s death over the weekend.

French, Spanish, English and Swiss tourists left their air-conditioned rental cars this week to take photographs of the barren landscape so different than the snow-capped mountains and rolling green hills they know back home. American adventurers liked the novelty of it, even as officials at the park in California warned visitors to stay safe.

“I was excited it was going to be this hot,” said Drew Belt, a resident of Tupelo, Mississippi, who wanted to stop in Death Valley as the place boasting the lowest elevation in the U.S. on his way to climb California’s Mount Whitney. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Kind of like walking on Mars.”

treadful , avatar

“Besides not being able to cool down while riding due to high ambient air temperatures, experiencing Death Valley by motorcycle when it is this hot is further challenged by the necessary heavy safety gear worn to reduce injuries during an accident,” the park statement said.

This is backward. All that equipment protects you from the air. Riding in shit like a T-shirt will dehydrate you by pulling moisture off your skin, as well as heat you up faster just by way of 120F+ air rushing over your body.

I imagine that would be a pretty challenging ride. I’d probably want a hydration pack and a cooling system.

Nastybutler ,

People seek thrills in different ways. Some free climb cliffs, some base jump, and some go somewhere hot. Whatever floats your boat, as long as you know and accept the risks, more power to you

dogslayeggs ,

I’ve been a couple times. It really is beautiful in different ways depending on the season. The wild flower super blooms in Feb/Mar are amazing, and the temps are reasonable then, too. In the summer it is just a desolate wasteland that has its own charm.

kescusay , avatar

I become useless at temperatures above 85 (less if the humidity is high, too). These people are insane.

henfredemars ,

Humans are such a successful species that many of us have lost our basic survival instincts.

Crackhappy , avatar

That’s a good way to think of it.

dumblederp , avatar

We lose a few tourists annually from it in Australia too. Massive hot sparse country.

Nikls94 ,
Gradually_Adjusting , avatar

Unsettling that Death Valley is a real place where people die. There really aren’t any writers on staff in this reality

rdyoung ,

Where do you think it got it’s name?

Gradually_Adjusting , avatar

From someone entirely unburdened by creative aspirations, it must be assumed

fishpen0 ,

Because when you name a place with the express intent to warn people not to go there, creativity almost certainly will introduce confusion

FlyingSquid , avatar

Oddly, at least according to Wikipedia, the group that named it only lost one person there. They just expected to die.

A group of European-American pioneers got lost here in the winter of 1849-1850, while looking for a shortcut to the gold fields of California, giving Death Valley its grim name. Although only one of the group members died here, they all assumed that the valley would be their grave.

I’m still not surprised people are dying there, but the people who named it didn’t experience a ton of death.

card797 ,

They didn’t name it Ton of Death Valley.

FlyingSquid , avatar

This is true. I suppose Occasional Death Valley would also have less of an impact.

Gradually_Adjusting , avatar

I look forward to it being rechristened Deaths Valley

makyo ,

Oh only one death

FlyingSquid , avatar

I mean if they named it Death Valley, you would expect it would be because a bunch of people died there. But apparently it was a more after the fact thing.

jaybone ,

They should have just gone with Happy Fun Time Valley.

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