Death Valley, California
Credit: Lola L. Falantes / Getty Images

Death Valley's all-time high temperature of 134 F makes it the hottest place on the planet after a 90-year record set in El Azizia, Libya was invalidated in 2013. The striated canyon walls that typify the American southwest are here in abundance, along with sand dunes and the Penamint Mountains, which may be snow-capped in the winter. The walls are also the source of Death Valley's oppressive heat, trapping hot air that cools only a negligible amount before sinking back toward the ground.