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Death Valley National Park, Nevada

Distance from Baltimore: About a 5-hour flight Why it’s hot: In July 1913, the largest national park south of Alaska reached a smoldering temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the temperature in December is usually between 40 and 65 degrees. The 3.4 million acre park gets less than two inches of rain per year and is 282 feet below sea level, but it still attracts close to a million tourists every year. The park consists of large eroded rocks, giant sand dunes and canyons, oases and a 200-square-mile salt pan. Don’t miss: The salt flats of Badwater Basin, above, are located in the lowest point in North America. Thousands of years ago, the basin was the site of a 30-foot lake that later evaporated leaving a layer of salt in its wake. is Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge. This giant alkaline desert and wetland is home to at least 26 types of animals and plants that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Information: Go to or call 760-786-3200.Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images