LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In honor of Juneteenth National Independence Day, Death Valley and all other national parks will offer free entrance on Wednesday, June 19.

“In addition to protecting beautiful places, the National Park Service protects our nation’s emancipation sites and stories,” a Friday news release from Death Valley National Park said.

Camping fees and charges for other park amenities will still be charged.

The forecast calls for a high temperature of 117 degrees that day in Death Valley, and officials offered strategies for avoiding the heat.

First, be smart if you intend to be out in the heat. Park rangers said it’s important to know your limits and acclimatize to heat over a few days. Avoid the heat by taking precautions after 10 a.m. Stay within a short walk of an air-conditioned car. Avoid the sun and seek shade during the hottest time of the day. Wear a hat and consider carrying an umbrella. Drink plenty of water and eat salty snacks. Travel only on paved roads, and pay attention to whether you have cell service. If your car breaks down, stay with the vehicle for shelter and so you can be found easier.

Second, take advantage of higher altitudes. Death Valley is the lowest point in the U.S., but there are opportunities to hike at higher altitudes where you can avoid intense heat. Some of the above precautions apply, but you can take longer hikes higher up including:
Dantes View to Mount Perry, a 9-mile round trip along ridges at 5,000 feet.
Wildrose Peak Trail, a round trip of 8.4 miles from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.
Telescope Peak Trail, a 14-mile hike from 8,000 to 11,000 feet. (You’ll need a high clearance 4X4 to reach the trailhead at Mahogany Flat Campground.

If you’re not up to those longer hikes, pay close attention to the heat and consider the short hikes at Badwater Basin, Artists Drive, Devils Golf Course, Zabriskie Point, Wildrose Charcoal Kilns and Dantes View. Each of those trails offer highlights that can be visited during the summer by brief walks from a car. Furnace Creek Visitor Center has exhibits, park film, and a bookstore.

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