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2015 Death Valley National Park Wildflowers Reports

Feb 27, 2015 Death Valley Reports: No, this is not a banner year – but is it lovely out there? Absolutely! There’s good news and bad news this week. I’ll start with the bad news – the extremely hot weather we had earlier this month did do some damage. Areas that were looking good a week or two ago are not so good this week. Many young flowers could not deal with the heat and shriveled up and died, while the early bloomers bolted, developing dwarfed flowers and already going to seed. Those carpets of primroses I was talking about last week are gone. Areas especially hard hit include Highway 190 between Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells, and the Jubilee Pass area.

Now the good news – we got rain! Last weekend we got 0.24 inches of rain, so flowers WILL be happening! And there is a good chance of more rain in the forecast for this weekend. That rain has saved us this wildflower season, especially in the higher elevations. Places that had not gone into bloom yet at the lower elevations got a nice boost and are looking good now. Scotty’s Castle Road is looking good, with some brown eyed evening primrose left, and really nice patches of notch-leaf phacelia, golden evening primrose, and brittlebush. Mud Canyon is my favorite drive of the week, really lovely combinations of flowers from Scotty’s Castle Road to Hell’s Gate.

The Badwater Road has great phacelia patches between Natural Bridge and Badwater. Further south on the Badwater Road, the areas between Mile Marker 40 and 48 have some delightful displays of desert gold and sand verbena. Flowers are blooming on the west side of the park, too, on the road near Panamint Springs and Father Crowley lookout. There are some nice brittlebush showings in the Darwin Falls area.

As for the upper elevations, it’s the calm before the storm. As you drive by, there is not much color showing or enticing you to stop in the Jubilee Pass area, but if you do stop and walk around, the amount of greenery getting ready to bloom is astounding! Look for great desert five spot there in about a week, maybe less. Walking up the alluvial fans in that area will reward you with some really beautiful patches of mojavia , caltha leafed phacelia, golden evening primrose, and shredding evening primrose. Gravel ghost, broad leaved gilia, brittlebush, and Death Valley sandpaper plant, as well as desert five-spot, will be blooming in just a few days. The Greenwater Valley is another area just thick with greenery, nothing much happening right now, but in a week or two it should be incredible. Happy flower hunting! (dm) Photo credit: D.Milliard

Feb 27, 2015 Ed the Camp Host Reports: On February 24th and 25th, we took an overnight trip to the northern reaches of Death Valley National Park to investigate the wildflower bloom in that area. The northern half of the park is higher and cooler, so the bloom is usually slower there.

A few miles north of Furnace Creek on California State Highway 190 between mile markers 102 and 103, a moderate size alluvial fan on the northeast side of the road is covered with emerald green plants. There are scattered road blooms of Desert Gold along the highway, but no carpet blooms of any sort as yet. This one are will bear watching in the next week.

On Scotty’s Castle Road around mile marker 27, there is a road bloom with large Brittlebrush, large Golden Evening Primrose, healthy sized Trumpet Flower and smaller Purple Phacelias. This area had a large overwash of alluvium during the flash floods of early December, and the larger than normal plants are reflecting that event.

Up near Scotty’s Castle, Datura is beginning to leave out, but has set no blooms as yet. We could see three small blooming shrubs of bright orange Apricot Mallow, but could find no place to safely stop to take a photo.

There are small groups of blooming wildflowers in other places in the north of the park, but they are mostly along the roads while the rest of the desert floor does not show much sign of blooming as yet.


Feb 26, 2015 DUSA Reports: Rain is forecasted for the weekend, great for the wildflowers

Feb 24, 2015 EM Reports: Monday, February 23 - A quarter inch of rain fell Sunday night here at Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park, and the storm was widespread. This moisture will go a long way to prolonging the wildflower bloom here on the valley floor after three weeks of blazingly hot weather, and it will stimulate blooming at higher elevations. Saturday, February 21st - A friend reported a good bloom of dozens of Desert Five Spots at Ashford Mills in the southern reaches of Death Valley. Many of the blooms were around the mill ruins.

Feb 21, 2015 Lucy on FB Reports: The best areas are still Jubilee Pass and Badwater Road south of Mormon Point with carpets of brown-eyed primrose leading the way. The Wildrose area is still pretty dormant, but I expect good globemallow up there next month. Panamint Valley looks to be about a week behind us, and less coverage. Brittlebush is very good at Darwin Falls.

Feb 21, 2015 Death Valley Reports: Remember a couple of weeks ago when I mentioned there were a lot of ifs that could happen to affect the bloom? Well, I have good news and bad news. The bloom is on, with carpets of brown-eyed evening primrose along the roads in lower elevations, and patches of notchleaf phacelia and sand verbena. Desert Gold and a few belly flowers are starting to bloom, and a visitor reports a desert five-spot in bloom near the Grapevine Ranger Station.

The bad news is that the weather has been very hot for the entire month of February, with temperatures in the 80s every day for the last 2 weeks. A lot of the smaller seedlings are shriveling up and dying. Many of the plants that are blooming are stunted, smaller than usual, bolting. If the weather does not change soon, the season will be short but sweet, as there will be no followup to the well established plants not being affected so much by the hot weather.

Feb 20, 2015 EM Reports: As of Thursday, February 19th, there is a nice carpet bloom of Little Golden Poppies just east of Jubilee Pass between Mile Markers 54 and 56 on the Badwater Road. The gold flowers cover several acres of the desert floor on the north side of road, and have Fremont Phacelia and Golden Evening Primoses scattered around them. This is the biggest bloom I have seen in many years, having visited the park in March for the last ten years. With nearly three weeks of much hotter than normal temperatures, the bloom may not last too long, unless we get more moisture and cooler temperatures.

Feb 20, 2015 Shawn Reports: Just returned from our first Death Valley trip of the year (20 Feb) There was a nice roadside show of purple and yellow along mud canyon (daylight pass road just east of the North Highway). Flowers in the dunes area 2 miles east of Stovepipe are just beginning to pop - there are two varieties making their appearance: One, single stalk generally 2-4 inches with very narrow (almost thread like) leaves and tiny white flowers, the other was forming a beautiful basal rosette of heart-leafs but had not yet bloomed. The Creosote along Hwy 190 near sea level is blooming.

Feb 20, 2015 Ed the Camp Host Reports: On Sunday, February 15th, I drove up to Daylight Pass north of Furnace Creek and saw a very small micro-bloom of desert annuals. The excessive heat here on the valley floor with highs in the 80s for the last two weeks is burning out many of the tinier plants. These small wildflowers were along the road just uphill from Mud Canyon.

Feb 14 2015 Death Valley Reports: There are a few flowers starting to bloom in the northern Grapevine Mountains. I saw Encelia, Mohavia, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, Golden Evening Primrose, and Caltha-Leaved Phacelia on a recent hike there. However, the seedlings at the mouth of Titus Canyon are still very tiny.

Blooms are also starting to show up on the West Side Road. There are a lot of seedlings coming up along Highway 190 between Furnace Creek and Stovepipe Wells. This area should be looking good in a couple of weeks. A higher than normal crop of Desert Five Spot is possible in this area, but I haven’t seen many Gravel Ghost leaf rosettes. Bad news for the wildflowers are the warmer than normal temperatures and recent breezy weather. This will not affect the bigger seedlings getting ready to bloom, but can be quite detrimental to the tiny seedlings and affect the length of the flower season. Wishing for just one more rainstorm!(dm)

Feb 12, 2015 Ed Reports: A few blooms have started in Death Valley National Park, and some parts are greener than I have seen them since the Big Bloom of 2005, due to the rainstorms last Fall. But a week of higher than normal temperatures (mid 80s F) has started to dry out some areas. Here’s an update on what I have seen in my travels around the park.

Southwest of Death Valley National Park

On Monday, February 2nd, I drove south from Panamint Springs Resort on the road to Ridgecrest, CA. Much of the southern Panamint Valley near DVNP and even Redrock Canyon State Park (southwest of Ridgecrest) had a light covering of green, probably caused by the rainstorms in January. Upon returning the on the same route on Sunday February 8th, after a week of 80 degree F plus temperatures, the green had faded considerably. Don’t expect much of a bloom in this area unless it receives more moisture.

North of Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park

On Sunday February 8th, there was still evidence of small green plants on the gravel fans north along CA 190 north of Furnace Creek and south of Salt Creek. These hot dry gravel fans have not bloomed with Desert Gold Sunflowers since 2005, so it is surprising to see any new growth. Still, more moisture is needed for this area to bloom.

The East side of Towne Pass above Stovepipe Wells is greening up as well. This area had a modest bloom last March, and could have a similar size bloom this season.

Greenwater Valley and Dantes View Road

On Tuesday, February 10th, I drove a loop through the southeastern area of Death Valley. The Greenwater Valley and the road up to Dantes View had a good cover of small green sprouts. This area is higher than 2,500 feet in elevation and is much cooler than the valley floor, so it has not dried as much from the recent unseasonably hot weather. The Greenwater Valley had a pretty large carpet bloom in March of 2014, and seems to be headed toward another such bloom this year.

Salisbury Pass and Jubilee Pass

In March of 2014, there were very small but attractive patches of wildflowers on the east side of the 3,000 foot Salisbury Pass and the 1,500 foot Jubilee Pass. This season, large parts of the desert here resemble a pasture, with thick green plants covering the area on both sides of the road. The first blooms appear to be the small Desert Gold Poppy, Golden Evening Primrose, Shredding Evening Primrose and Sand Verbena. I could recognize the pre-bloom vegetation of Trumpet Flower, Desert Five Spot and Desert Gold Sunflowers, all which are probably two weeks away from blooming. This area’s blooms promise to be much more spectacular than last year’s wildflower show! I will be checking on the bloom’s progress here every week or so on my days off.

Feb 7, 2015 Death Valley Reports: Two nice gentle soaker rains last week have given us .42 inches of rain for January and watered the little sprouts that have come up, keeping them green and healthy. Relatively cool weather, not too much wind, and another nice soaker sometime in February will give us a decent wildflower season in most parts of the park. Keep your fingers crossed!

The green covering the hills and alluvial fans is mostly cryptantha seedlings, a tiny white wildflower related to the forget-me-not. Brown-eyed Evening Primrose are just starting to bloom on the northern part of the Badwater Road. I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction. This area should really start popping in about 2 weeks. The lower part of the Badwater Road (Jubilee Pass and Salsberry Pass) will probably not really get going until early March, as the seedlings are still pretty small there. (dm)

Feb 1, 2015 Ed Reports: Over half an inch of rain fell around Texas Spring Campground at Furnace Creek during the night of Friday January 30th. More rain fell in the southern reaches of Death Valley National Park from that storm as well. There should be the first blooms of the wildflower season in the next week or two around Ashford Mills and Jubilee Pass.

So far this hydrologic year, some parts of the park have received nearly two inches of rainfall from four to six separate rainstorms, starting in August of 2014. Mesquite Springs Campground in the northern reaches of the park received two inches of rain in December alone. This year will not be an exceptional bloom, such as in 2005, but should be far better than the average bloom over the last ten years. Stay tuned for more wildflower reports as we check out different parts of the park in the next month. Ed M. Campground Host

Jan 30, 2015 Death Valley Reports: The creosote bush, one of the most common plants in the desert, is also one of the most amazing plants around. The first few blooms on this plant are just now starting to show up. Look for them all over Death Valley.

Jan 26, 2015 Death Valley Reports: This year looks spotty so far, also. Parts of southern Death Valley have so many green sprouts coming up that it looks like patches of grass. Around Furnace Creek, there are some sprouts, but nothing outrageous. By the east entrance of the park, prospects look grim. I don’t think that area got ANY rain during the last storm. Some rain is in the forecast for today.

We have a 20% chance of rain, increasing to 60% Monday night. Tuesday a 40% chance is in the forecast. Beware of flash floods in low-lying areas, but also beware of snow in the high country. You've got to love Death Valley!

Jan 12, 2015 DUSA Reports: Some rain fell in the area on Sunday. Titus Canyon High-clearance required; some washouts due to past flood damage.


Peak Blooming Periods for Death Valley are usually...

Mid February - 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 - 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 - Early June above 4,000 ft. elevations

* Best areas: High Panamints
* Dominant species: Mojave wildrose, rabbitbrush, Panamint daisies, mariposa lilies and lupine.

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