'Heat Tourists' Flock to Death Valley, Utah's Wave

In the height of summer, the hottest place on Earth is packed with European tourists.
7:26 | 09/06/13

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Transcript for 'Heat Tourists' Flock to Death Valley, Utah's Wave
for joining us, extreme sports are increasingly going mainstream, with the adrenalin-inducing activities going main stream. But tomorrow, death valley is expected to reach 107 degrees, which seems less like a vacation spot and more like a wrong turn, so why are so many people going to these destinations? Reporter: At this point, most of us are trying to escape the heat. We'll endure it to snap a picture maybe at yosemite or the grand canyon. Or maybe some other spectacular spot. But we never stray too far from the air conditioning. Hopefully set to full blast. And then, there are the heat tourists. and I can't wait to get on the road again ♪ Reporter:O THEM, HIGH Season is where the thermometer is highest. This busload of italians is heading for the lowest, driest, hottest spot in north america. Death valley. You got the cowboy look already. A cowboy. To the cowboys! Reporter: Death valley holds the record for the hottest air temperature ever recorded on earth. 136 degrees, a record unbroken for 100 years. Honeymoon. Reporter: Honeymoon? Honeymoon in death valley. In august and september, when europe is crowded with american tourists, death valley is packed with europeans. Not too hot for you? Yes, yes, very hot. But it is good -- at home it is cold. Reporter: At home it is cold. In an entire day here, we met tourists from france. And switzerland. It is interesting that people would come here, like san francisco, maybe, los angeles, maybe, las vegas even, but death valley? They like it, it is so different. It is so different, there is nothing like that in europe. Reporter: One couple we met is actually camping here. How have you held up? Well, badly, the heat is killing me. She nearly fainted. Yeah, we had a heat stroke. Reporter: Almost a badge of honor in this crowd. We met this family from germany. They are carefully keeping track of the temperature every time they get in the car. So basically, every time it reaches a new high you take a picture? Very germanic? Very german. Reporter: This year for the first time, the national park service found it necessary to produce an instructional video for tourists. We are in death valley national park and we're going to try to fry an egg in a skillet that has been out in the sun. Reporter: Showing how yes, it is possible to fry an egg in this heat. This proves you can fry an egg in the desert sun. Reporter: But the park service asks everybody not to. Every summer, somebody tries to fry an egg, but not to the volume this year, especially in the heat. Just think about having hot, kind of gooey eggs in your house. It gets kind of gross when you consider the volume of eggs that people are trying to cook out here. Reporter: Death valley, as hot as it is, is just an appetizer for the tourists. True heat enjoyers head to the wave. Not the sort most of us have in mind. No, this wave is bone dry, right in the middle of the arizona desert, a spectacular stretch of sandstone, dating all the way back to the dinosaurs. Here, with the water and shade it looks like you have landed on mars. I don't know anywhere else in the world that has this rock, and sand stone that looks like petrified rainbow. Reporter: Last year, 48,000 people applied for just 7300 day permits. Nearly five out of six visitors turned away. And we got 18. Reporter: Just showing up is no guarantee you will get in. The park rangers grant just 20 permits a day, half of them snapped up six months in advance. The other half chosen by lottery by people who apply on the spot. Everybody's heart rate just go up? Reporter: Today, 18 groups, about 60 people, are viing for ten permits. If you are not prepared with the heat off the rock, it is very easy to get dehydrated. Reporter: This summer, three people died, an elderly couple, overcome by the heat, and a 27-year-old woman from arizona who came here to celebrate her anniversary, and suffered a heart attack brought on by heat exhaustion. She was just too far, just too far into the heat. And it didn't help her. The rock formation is gorgeous, but not worth your life. Reporter: Which may explain why the bureau of land management explains it to everybody. It is why this is a round-trip over uneven terrain. Reporter: To discourage you from visiting. Has anyone told you to hike in the desert in the summer is often times not the most brilliant idea? Reporter: After the death this summer, the blm is stressing safety more than ever up front. They're planning to update the warning site and translate for vend visitors, but people are still ALLOWED TO VISIT, vicki McKaren and steven factor. I was surprised. We figured we would try every day, and keep coming back. Reporter: They are from florida, and are avid hikers, they plan to take a gallon of water. We are planning to take two gps, that will stop us from getting lost. Reporter: They agreed to take our camera along. Hiking over the sand, there will be a lot of it. As he hiked up the unmanned trail. Marking the notch, this is the way. Reporter: A natural hot spot that they insist is worth it. Now, you're going to 70 one of the most magical places on earth. Reporter: Even with all the hassle of getting here. This is the site that people will absolutely risk their lives just to see. Words don't describe the beauty of the spot. Reporter: Maybe, the heat tourists are onto something. Remember that german family, keeping track of the temperature readings wherever they go. We'll make a present for you so you can take better pictures. There you go, that is for you. Reporter: A souvenir for the extreme summer vacation. I'm david wright for "nightline," in death valley.

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