Due to the recent rains in California, Death Valley is experiencing an amazing wildflower bloom. Visitors to the Park are sharing pictures online, on social media, and in news reports, that show carpets of yellow as far as the eye can see. If you wish to catch the remainder of the bloom, you will need to head to the park before the heat takes its toll on the flowers, sending them to seed.
Here is the latest Wildflower Update from the DVNP website http://www.nps.gov/deva/learn/nature/wildflower-update-2016.htm:
February 24, 2016 – The bloom is moving North! Check out the great color combo of Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) and Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) decorating Furnace Creek Wash from the East Entrance to the Furnace Creek Inn. Keep your eyes open in that stretch for expanses of Purple Mat (Nama demissum) and the rounded humps of Turtleback (Psathyrotes ramosissima). Get out of your car and take a stroll in the wash, and you may be amazed at the diversity. I was able to identify over a dozen species in a ten minute walk!
Along Highway 190 north from the Visitor Center to the Scotty’s Castle Road, fields of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) are starting to fill in the blanks. One new hotspot is the Beatty Cut-Off Road. The diversity in some places is nothing short of amazing. Try walking a wash between Mile Markers 2 and 4 to taste a bit of that diversity.If you are traveling to Ubehebe Crater or the Racetrack, the Scotty’s Castle Road is adorned with the same gold and purple color scheme as the Furnace Creek Wash. Although there is not enough yet to warrant a special trip, look for expanses of Mohavia (Mohavea breviflora) , blooming Acton Encelia (Encelia actoni), and Broad Flowered Gilia (Gilia latiflora) in this stretch. Phacelia and Golden Evening Primrose are also brightening up the approaches on both sides of Towne Pass.
The Badwater Road is still the go-to destination for those huge expanses of endless flowers. The Brown-Eyed Evening Primroses (Camissonia claviformis) are starting to bolt due to hot temperatures and lack of rain, but the Desert Gold is still going strong, and the Gravel Ghost Atrichoseis platyphylla), Pebble Pincushion (Chaenactis carphoclinia), and Broad-Leaved Gilia (Aliciella latifolia) are just getting started. If you want those lower elevation flowers, though, you may want to come soon. I am amazed at how quickly the Phacelia and Desert Five Spot ( Erimalche rotundifolia) are working their way up their stems.
Harry Wade Road has some really nice things going on near the Amargosa River Crossing. As usual, get out of your car and walk a wash to see more varieties. Echo Canyon and Hole in the Wall should have some nice flowers. Check out the rock walls and see if you can find Death Valley Monkeyflower (Mimulus rupicola). Greenwater Valley is REALLY green. Some flowers are starting to bloom there –I saw Fremont Phacelia (Phacelia Fremontii), Desert Dandelion (Malicothrix californica glabrata), Desert Gold Poppy (Eschscholtzia glyptosperma), Checker Fiddleneck (Amsinckia tessellate) , Blazing Star (Mentzelia sp.) and Globemallow ((Sphaeralcea ambigua) –but they are VERY few and far between still. In 2 weeks, this road will really pop.
For hikers, canyons are best for diversity. Fall Canyon is looking great, or try Willow and Sidewinder Canyons, or just wander up a likely wash. Happy Flower Hunting!
For more information, please visit the Death Valley National Park website: http://www.nps.gov/deva/index.htm
If you will be visiting the Park, please be aware of the dangers associated with this area of the desert.