HOT SPOT: Death Valley National Park doesn't roll up the carpet, or, um, the vast stretches of glorious sand, come the summertime. Yes, there are those who claim that temperatures in the national park reach 1XX degrees (which is often true), and so many people have sworn to have seen eggs frying on asphalt over the years that we're half convinced Death Valley should open its own omelet emporium. But heat or not, it remains a beautiful and mysterious destination, even in the toastiest months. And there are ways to not only escape from the outdoors for a few minutes but to go below ground. Ahhh. Already feeling cooler.
SUBTERRANEAN SCOTTY'S: Scotty's Castle, the landmark abode in the national park, offers a traditional tour, yes, but there's also a chance to take the Underground Tour. You get to go into the castle's basement -- we're chilling out already -- and look at "historic technology." Oh yeah. Oh, and score; there's a "tunnel system" you'll get a peek at, too.
COME AUGUST: Now here's the summery twist. The Underground Tour is a November through April staple. Makes sense, since that's high season for the park. But, and that's a solid "but," the castle will sometimes give tours in those oh-so-roasty summer months if there's staff available. A quick call to the Scotty's revealed that while the Underground Tour will not be going down -- ahem -- during June and July, August is a real possibility. But, and that's another solid "but," you'll need to phone the castle ahead of time and arrange things, should you be in Death Valley come August or the early fall months. The number is 760-786-2392.
PRICE: An adult admission for the Scotty's Castle Underground Tour is $11.