Taking advantage of unseasonally low highs in the 90s during our recent Las Vegas vacation, my family and I trekked to Death Valley, which boasts the hottest weather and lowest elevation in the United States.

With a forecast high of 90, and after a safety discussion with the 5-year-old ("We can't go to Death Valley! It has death in the name!"), we figured it would at least be tolerable. But it only gets hotter in the lower reaches of Death Valley, and the readout on our car's dash topped out at 111 in the Badwater Basin, location of the lowest point in North America at 282 feet below sea level.

We did see some rain falling in the mountains to the west, but the clouds stopped before they reached the valley's edge.

If you like camping and golfing, Death Valley has options for you - a 9-hole golf course, RV park and small cabins are available at the Furnace Creek Resort near the Visitors Center at Furnace Creek. But don't bring your clubs out to the Devil's Golf Course; you'll never find your ball among all the serrated rock salt spires.

Coming up: the Grand Canyon. Yesterday: Hoover Dam.