It was 110 degrees Fahrenheit at 6pm in Death Valley on July 5th.
I know this, because we were there. I also now know that being in 110 degrees feels basically the same as having someone point a person-sized hair dryer at you.
Death Valley is beautiful the way bones bleached white are beautiful. It's beautiful for its starkness, and for what little life it's able to support. Flakes of pyrite gather and glitter in the sand dunes.
True to our compromise, we stayed in a hotel with air conditioning, and mostly explored by car, meaning we didn't actually spend a ton of time in the direct heat. But even five minutes at a time we did spend, mostly just taking pictures, was pretty rough.
Scotty's Castle was closed, so we visited the Artist's Drive, Artist's Palette and Dante's Overlook, all of which were absolutely worth visiting. Artist's Drive is an easy one, through narrow passes between rocky crags, that lead you past Artist's Palette, a group of rocks named for the blue, purple and green rocks created by minerals, which look like splashes of paint. Dante's Overlook gives you a vista (with a pleasant ten-twenty degree drop in temperature) of Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States.