Who would have thought in an environment receiving on average less than 2″ of rain per year, there would be such spectacular displays of wildflowers. Yes it was the year of the Super Bloom and yes one might expect plentiful Desert Gold which thrives even in years of drought, but I’ve learned finding such diversity was not an anomaly.
Date(s) Hiked: February 26, 2016
Road Trip Day(s) #7 out of 88
- 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.
- Great information for future planning (Digital-Desert).
The best time to see a spring floral display is in years when rainfall has been several times the Death Valley annual average of about 1.9 inches. In general, heavy rains in late October with no more rain through the winter months, will not bring out the flowers as well as rains that are evenly-spaced throughout the winter and into the spring.
Peak Blooming Periods for Death Valley are usually…
Mid February to Mid April at lower elevations (valley floor and alluvial fans)
Best Areas: Jubilee Pass, Highway 190 near the Furnace Creek Inn, base of Daylight Pass
Dominant species: desert star, blazing star, desert gold, mimulus, encelia, poppies, verbena, evening primrose, phacelia, and various species of cacti (usually above the valley floor).
Early April to Early May at 2,000 to 4,000 ft. elevations
Best areas: Panamint Mountains
Dominant species: paintbrush, Mojave desert rue, lupine, Joshua tree, bear poppy, cacti and Panamint daisies.
Late April to Early June above 4,000 ft. elevations
Best areas: High Panamints
Dominant species: Mojave wildrose, rabbitbrush, Panamint daisies, mariposa lilies and lupine.
- Death Valley NPS – Website
- Death Valley NPS – Wildflowers
- Death Valley NPS – Camping
- Death Valley NPS – Backcountry Camping
- Death Valley Map – Tom Harrison
- Death Valley NP Map – National Geographic
- Jan’s Jaunts in Death Valley
- Jan’s Jaunts in California
- Desert USA
- I Love the Eastern Sierra