CA – Death Valley NP – Super Bloom 2016

You know I adore flowers. So when I heard this might be the first year since 2005 to experience this somewhat rare event, now popularly called a Super Bloom, how could I resist? What is a Super Bloom? According to a 3/9/16 post on the Scientific American blog, “when conditions are right, including well-spaced rainfall and low winds, the desert becomes carpeted with wildflowers. This year the conditions were just right. Rains were gentle and penetrated deeply into the soil to germinate dormant seeds. The ground warmed slowly, allowing roots to develop. A moist, El Niño weather pattern kept the flowers watered as they grew.”

As I traveled south through the Eastern Sierra, I tracked peak predictions on several online sites, wanting my timing to be just right. The lowest elevation areas were exploding with color upon my arrival and within a few days it was moving up the valley. Shortly after my departure a big wind event damaged many of the flowers. That was a sign my timing was just right! 

Welcome to the land of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens).

Panorama shots help show the density and coverage of the super bloom display. 

The color was less obvious in some places. 

And other times, there were flowers, flowers everywhere.

I found myself walking through the fields in an attempt to find the highest density locations.

You might think this field was planted with those golden seeds.

The gold really pops against the black rocks. 

Occasionally there was a mix of flowers. The various wildflowers deserve a post of their own. 

Desert Gold even surrounded Badwater Salt Flat. Yes, I’m planning a dedicated post on Badwater.

The beauty of the mountains on Artists Drive added to the golden foreground, although peak bloom hadn’t quite arrived. You can be sure I’ll have a post on the colorful geology.  

I’ve been pollinated!

Date(s) Hiked: February 26, 2016

Road Trip Day(s) #7 out of 88

Jan’s Tips:

  • Stop by the Visitor Center to find the latest wildflower reports. They marked up my map and helped me focus my attention in the right areas. Be sure to mention type of vehicle you’re driving as many roads require 4×4 or high clearance. Grab a copy of their brochure, Wildflowers of Death Valley National Park, to help with plant identification.
  • I found the camping to be a bit challenging. I’m not a desert rat and don’t really like being packed into tight quarters with nearly zero privacy. Dispersed camping is somewhat limited if you don’t have an appropriate vehicle (ask for the map at the Visitor Center). I stayed at Stovepipe Wells CG and learned you can drive to the back of the RV spots for a bit of privacy and protection from the ever present wind.
  • Fill your tank before entering the Park. It’s a BIG park. There are a couple places in the Park to refuel if necessary, but of course you’ll pay the convenience price.
  • I found the temperatures uncomfortably warm even though it was only late February. Highs during the day were in the high 80’s low 90’s, nighttime temps were in the high 40’s to high 50’s. Shade was a rare commodity. I found myself hanging out at the Visitor Center when I needed a break.
  • The bright bright sun makes lighting extreme for photography. Since this was my first visit to the park I was learning my way around. Next time I’d be out in prime locations at first light.

Resources:

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