Death Valley is Having an Egg Problem

Cracked eggs left on asphalt in Death Valley National Park. | Photo: Courtesy NPS

Can you really fry an egg on the sidewalk? As temperatures have recently soared in Death Valley National Park, probably breaking records, people sure have been trying. There's no harm in that, but it becomes a problem when visitors all but abandon their culinary curiosities for someone else to clean up.

"[T]he Death Valley NP maintenance crew has been busy cleaning up eggs cracked directly on the sidewalk, including egg cartons and shells strewn across the parking lot," a post on the park's Facebook stated today.

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Park spokesperson Cheryl Chipman tells me that it wasn't just one or two instances of finding leftovers on the sidewalk and parking lot: "It was en masse." Not only that, there have been reports of people trying to fry eggs -- for flavor?!? -- directly on the salt beds of Badwater Basin, the lowest (and likely the hottest) point in the continent.

In a video posted to YouTube Saturday, a ranger demonstrated how to successfully fry an egg in the desert sun, but at least two videos uploaded since show disappointment. The key seems to be not letting the moisture seep:

But what about directly on the sidewalk? Funny enough, another branch of the federal government -- the Library of Congress -- actually looked into this, concluding that it's possible, but only theoretically: "an egg needs a temperature of 158°F to become firm." (Bill Nye the Science Guy has a different take).

Either way, it's a fun thing to try during the middle of the hottest days in the country's lowest point. People just really need to remember leave no trace.

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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCET's Director of News, Region and State, working on digital and on-air news products that relate to Southern California and beyond.
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