ID – Wildflowers of the Snake River Trail- Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Wildflower viewing was one of the primary reasons I wanted to hike the Snake River Trail in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Here are a few of my favorites, with names based on limited research. ENJOY!

Brodiaea

Who am I?

Narrowleaf Skullcap (?)

Larkspur

Fiddleneck

Balsamroot

Aster (Tragopogon dubius)

Paintbrush (bonus: tent worm?)

Three Flowered Avens (Old Man’s Beard)

Phylox

Aster (?)

Redstem Filaree (?) Geranium (?)

Sweet Pea or Milk-vetch

Flax (lewisii)

Prairie Star (bonus: poison ivy)

Ladybugs love Milkweed

Date(s) Hiked: May 4-8, 2017

Spring 2017 Road Trip: Days 67-71 (out of 78)

Resources:

Links:

ID – Split Creek, Scenic Highway 12 Adventures

I was ready to find my climbing endorphins after a flattish hike along the Selway River the previous day. I stopped at nearby Fenn Ranger Station to solicit additional hiking options with Split Creek Trail #133 as today’s recommendation and ultimate selection.

The trailhead is just off Highway 12 (A Long and Winding Road) aka the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway

Crossing the Lochsa River on this lovely bridge marks the beginning of the hike. 

The trail was well signed and easy to follow. Even in the early season it was in good shape.

I like trails that begin with a warm up. This one started with about a half mile paralleling the river. Trillium were abundant. 

Surprises await. 

I watched the storm develop as I climbed ever higher. The trail was well designed with long winding switchbacks. My car is way down there on Highway 2.

My goal was the ridge. 

Synthyris (Kittentails) have become my favorite flower of Idaho this spring season. 

Sweet pea blooms. 

Finding this one solo dogwood tree blooming was a sure sign that I’d found spring. 

These yellow lilies were the predominant flower on trail today. Per a pamphlet from the Idaho Native Plant Society, these are called Dogtooth Violets (Erythronium grandiflorum). I’m more familiar with the alternate names, Fawn Lily or Glacier Lily.

The finally rain caught me before I made it to the top and with visibility gone, I decided I’d had enough and descended before the trail became a muddy slimy mess. It was exactly what I needed. My lungs and legs felt great. This hike reminded me of how much more I prefer sweeping views to river corridors. Since this is an out and back hike, you can extend to a 22 mile round trip option.

The only thing I disliked about this hike was TICKS! I found several and was reminded it was time to treat my clothes and gear with Sawyer Permetherin.

After my hike I drove back to the Selway River and explored O’Hara Creek Road, ultimately camping near the creek. There are many early season surprises when exploring backroads. 

Date(s) Hiked: April 24, 2017

Spring 2017 Road Trip: Day 57 (out of 78)

Links:

ID/MT – Snowshoe Falls, Scenic Highway 12 Adventures

After visiting the Charcoal Kilns along Highway 28, I continued north through Salmon and onto Highway 93. Soon I found signs for the CDT (Continental Divide Trail). 

I attempted access via both roads unsuccessfully, so I continued north and as things are meant to be I explored another forest service road and found my happy place.

After a restful 27 degree night, I continued north on 93 finding myself at the Continental Divide and the Montana border. Why am I going north? Do I really think I’ll find green spring in Montana? Soon enough I was heading west on the Northwest Passage Scenic Byway aka Highway 12: A Long and Winding Road. Back in Idaho, I stopped at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center to gather maps, literature and information about the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests. They were a great resource.  Highway 12 parallels the Lochsa River where the boaters were hard at play. 

Access to Snowshoe Falls had me reversing course back into Montana. Although just a short jaunt, I needed time out of the car and with rain in the forecast I was motivated to be outside.

Trillium sightings made me feel like I’d found spring. 

A double cascade! 

Lily love. 

Synthyris (Kittentails)

Date(s) Hiked: April 22, 2017

Spring 2017 Road Trip: Day 55 (out of 78)

Links:

AZ – Wildflowers and Cacti Blooms along the Arizona Trail (Passages 18-19)

I found these beauties while hiking the stretch of trail between Roosevelt Lake and Picketpost the third week of March 2016. I’ve done my best with identification, but I’m no botanist so chances are I could be incorrect. Please note corrections in the comments. Thanks!

Hedgehog Cactus (Echinocereus)

Prickly Pear/Cactus Apple (Opuntia engelmannii

Tufted Evening Primrose (Oenothera caespitosa

Santa Catalina Mountain Phlox (Phlox tenuifolia)

Doubting Mariposa Lily (Calochortus ambiguus

? Plains Blackfoot (Melampodium leucanthum

White Tackstem (Calycoseris wrightii) OR New Mexico Plumeseed (Rafinesquia neomexicana)

Creamcups (Platystemon californicus)

Desert Rosemallow (Hibiscus coulteri)  

Melon Loco (Apodanthera undulata)

Gordon’s Bladderpod (Lesquerella gordonii)

Desert Marigold (Baileya multiradiata

Fiddleneck (I’ve been trying for this photo for years)

Desert Mariposa Lily (Calochortus kennedyi

Globemallow/Desertmallow (Sphaeralcea)

? Meadow Flax (Linum pratense)

Blue Flax (Linum pratense)

Phacelia

Chia (Salvia columbariae)

Fendler’s Horsenettle (Solanum fendleri)

? Trailing Windmills/Four O’Clock (Allionia incarnata)

Tansyaster 

?  Chinese Lantern (Quincula lobata)

Mariposa Lily 

? Phlox

Penstemon

Thistle

Are you a bloom? 

Leaves can be just as cool as flowers!

Resources:

Links:

CA – Death Valley NP – WOWtastic Wildflowers

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.

Desert 5-Spot (Eremalche rotundifolia).  This is one of the reasons I was in Desert Valley. I’d seen photos of this beauty was hoping for the opportunity to see for myself.

Notch-leaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata). I found large groups of these in a few drainages.

Brown-eyed Evening Primrose (Camissonia claviformis)

Golden Evening Primose (Camissonia brevipes).

Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla). These are one of my new favorites. 

Lesser Mojavea (Mohavea breviflora).

Rock Daisy (Perityle emoryi).

Desert Gold (Geraea canescens)

Desert Sand Verbena (Abronia villosa)

Purplemat (Nama demissum).

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.
  • 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.

Resources:

Links:

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:

Links: