Death Valley NP - Wildflower Reports
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2015 Death Valley National Park Wildflowers Reports
May 17, 2015 Mary Reports: Thank you for the post about flowers at the higher elevations in Death Valley that encouraged me to go take a look. Sections of the higher parts of the Titus Canyon road were thick with fresh Princes Plum, Broad Flowered Gilia, and Indigo. On that road, I also saw a hill of Larkspur, Paint Brushes and Stansbury Cliff Roses and pockets of annuals including Poppies, Purple Mat and Shredding Evening Primrose. At places it was brilliant in color. In Emigrant Canyon, Milkweed was opening up. Up at Wildrose, a type of Penstemon was blooming, possibly Desert Mountain Penstemon. I found several of the three foot tall Magnificent Lupine still blooming there. A short way up the Wildrose Peak trail, a ledge had an orange cactus coming in to bloom, I think Mojave Mound, and a yellow cactus, possibly Grizzly Bear Pricklypear. On the road to Aguereberry Point (off the road to Wildrose), there were several brilliant patches of Giant Four O’clock, lots of Desert Sage, and even a few orange Mariposa Lilies. The east side of Daylight Pass is lined with Princes Plum. In two days I saw over 40 species of booms. All in all, there was lots to see at the higher elevations.
May 15, 2015 DUSA Reports: Some rain in part of the park, a few wildflowers at the higher elevations.
April 27, 2015 Death Valley National Park Reports: High temperatures and strong winds have taken their toll on the wildflowers still in bloom. Titus Canyon still has the best flowers in the park. The lower edge of the blooming area is starting to shrivel, but it's still going strong around Red Pass, the high point on the road. Especially impressive are the great number of pink to lavender Weak-stem Mariposa Lily around White Pass. This is the best showing of this particular flower I've ever seen here. As the road winds down toward Leadfield ghost town, you cant miss the tall yellow spikes of Prince's Plume that are just now approaching peak bloom.
Titus Canyon Road is one-way from the east and although in pretty good shape right now, it is still rough enough you will need a high-clearance vehicle to safely make it through.
April 17, 2015 Death Valley National Park Reports: Yes, there are still flowers! The high country is where to go for flowers this week, but you've got to hand it to the Gravel Ghost. It's a tough little flower, still hanging in there in the mid to lower elevations, triple digit temperatures, windstorms, and all! The wind continues to take a toll on the blooms.
Dante’s View Road is past its peak, but still has an abundance of beautiful blooms. This is the best road if you don't have a high clearance vehicle.
Titus Canyon is my pick of the week again this week, just amazing. Emigrant Canyon Road is looking pretty nice. The paintbrush look especially pretty on this road. There are some flowers at Daylight Pass, especially on the east side, and Townes Pass. As usual, if you get out and hike around a little you’ll see a lot more. The Joshua Trees are about done in Lee Flat. North Pass in Saline Valley does not have a whole lot of wildflowers, but you can find the unusual and beautiful Rose Mallow blooming as you travel down the pass into Saline Valley. South Pass has abundant Cliffrose, Indigo Bush, Paintbrush and Lupine. The Racetrack Road has a wonderful cactus bloom going on. If you're planning on bagging a peak in the Panamints, nothing is really going on much on the mountain trails yet, but there's a patch of lupine shortly before the Charcoal Kilns and flowers coming up in Mahogany Flat and Thorndyke now. Happy flower hunting!
April 16, 2015 Grant Reports: Amargosa Trail after driving up Echo Canyon. That's about 2000-3000 foot elevation. I'd really like to know what this is.
Indian paintbrush - same location As you predicted, higher elevation is just coming into bloom. five-spot in Marble Canyon.
We did NOT see any wind damage from last week in Marble or Cottonwood canyons. Well, besides a few Cottonwood trees losing (sometimes larger) branches.
April 10, 2015 Death Valley National Park Reports: The hot spot this week is Titus Canyon. Things are looking pretty nice up there right now. Another spot that is looking better and better is Emigrant Canyon Road, with patches of paintbrush and endless Acton Encelia. Townes Pass has some nice spots. Dante’s View is still beautiful, with fields of Desert Dandelion. Get out of your car and you’ll find Desert Gold Poppy, Wooly Daisies, Fremont and Death Valley Phacelia, Mojave Asters and Pebble Pincushion mixed in with all the Dandelions.
The wind this week has taken a toll. The Panamint Daisies have been wiped out by it, no longer worth a special trip. Gold Valley is done. Greenwater Road still has a lot of flowers, but the variety is down. This area is past its peak. Many of the higher elevations have not yet begun to bloom, though, so wildflower season is far from over. Happy flower hunting! Photo Credit: D.Milliard
April 10, 2015 Pieter Reports: I spent five days in Death Valley from last Friday through Tuesday, and here's a quick recap.
Greenwater Valley at the higher elevations still has some sensational carpets of Chenactis ssp., as well as substantial Malacothrix, Amsinckia, Cryptantha, Gilia, and various other species; but the Chenactis is dominating, and it's quite beautiful in places. Also some Sphaeralcea, and Krascheninnikovia lanata.
There is a magnificent stand of lupine on a few south facing slopes along Hunter Mountain road descending northwards down in to Ulida Flat, but it's a long way to go for a single stand.
There is a stretch along Racetrack Road north and slightly northeast of Tin Mountain, descending northwards towards Ubehebe Crater where the road skirts the edge of an eastern bajada, and there's a rather remarkable rock garden there, with quite an abundance of various flowering cactus, as well as some Psorothamnus, Sphaeralcea, Castilleja, etc.
The best show we encountered is on Titus Canyon Road starting slightly west of Rhyolite and gaining in intensity up through about Red Pass. It's not bad beyond that either, but for a mix of annuals and perennials/shrubs, the east side is marvelous. Lots of the expected annuals, with a particular note for Chenactis, and some marvelous carpets of Eriophyllum wallacei, but for me, the Salvia dorrii was a show-stopper. Gorgeous, thick blooms! Also, there were the only major stands of still-blooming Stanleya I saw anywhere in the park. Two species of Sphaeralcea were blooming with great vigor as well, and various other shrubs and perennials were showing as well.
Hole in the Wall is mostly finished, with some Mohavea and Mimulus of note towards the end of the road, but it's far less good than other times I've visited.
Chloride Cliffs road was mostly barren of significant color.
Hidden Valley had a nice sprinkling of color, but gratifying mostly on a very local, on-foot level.
High up around Hunter Mountain, and on the south side of south pass of Saline Valley Road there wasn't much, and the same can be said continuing all the way down through Lee Flat, past Malpais Mesa, and in to the Cosos, where we spent our first day and night.
Lower Racetrack Road down towards the Racetrack didn't have much.
To sum up, at least for last weekend/early this week, the one big consistent hit was Titus Canyon Road, and on a more subtle level, Greenwater Valley.
Both I would suggest are 'must-go-now' scenarios for anyone trying to find a few last minute blasts of color.
I did hear from one other backcountry traveler that Warm Springs and Striped Butte Valley have good flowers, and that would be consistent with my time up there last year at the same period of time, but I can't confirm.
April 10, 2015 Geoff Reports: Went to Death Valley last wknd to view/photograph the lunar eclipse and of course, wildflowers! I followed advice in previous reports and focused on Greenwater Valley (via Furnace Creek Wash Rd, aka the Greenwater Valley Rd, a well-maintained dirt/gravel road suitable for any vehicle). Still a nice show! The 10-mile stretch south of Dante's View Rd was impressive. A splash of variety in some spots (first photo, along the roadside), and carpets of yellow desert dandelion and white pincushion in others (2nd photo, on one of the turnoff roads to the west). I'd put peak bloom elevation at 4000'-5000'+ in this area, and recommend taking one of the turnoffs to the west to climb up in elevation (as far as your vehicle can go) and see the change in flower freshness and variety, and as always: get out and walk around! I didn't get a chance to see Gold Valley (previously reported as great), but based on its somewhat lower elevation, it may be dried out by now.
I also drove up to Dante's View - didn't have much time to get out and hunt flowers, but looks like one of the best areas to do so now (top pick by a park ranger last wknd, and the road tops out at 5500'). With the recent cool-down, these areas could be good for another week, maybe longer. Finally, went to Salsberry Pass (again, based on previous good reports), and it may be drying out a bit, but still had a nice variety if you get out and walk around.
April 3, 2015 Death Valley National Park Reports: When you think about the challenges our wildflowers face, it is amazing we have any wildflowers left at all!
First, of course, there’s water. We have had 1 inch of rain this winter season. That’s not a whole heck of a lot of precipitation. What worked well was that the timing of the rain we did receive was excellent, with a little every month from November through February, keeping the little seedlings alive. The next challenge is heat. It was 89° on February 7. The heat came early and hit hard this year. From March 11 on, every single day had temperatures in the 90s, and temperatures were in the triple digits every day for the last week of March. The mild winter also brought us a bumper crop of insects, decimating some flower species. April has cooled down, but brought another big challenge. Wind!
Yet even with all these challenges, we still have some wonderful showings of wildflowers for you here in Death Valley. My pick of the week is Dante’s View Road. Lots of variety is available along that drive, from the turtleback and eriogonum you can see along the side of the road just after you turn off Highway 190, to the milkvetch found around the final curve in the road. Daylight Pass, Highway 190 just above Emigrant Campground, and Emigrant Pass Road are other good places to look for blooms along the paved roads. If you have high clearance or four wheel drive, other great wildflower drives are Greenwater Road, Gold Valley Road, Butte Valley and Titus Canyon. Joshua Trees are blooming in Lee Flat. The cactus flowers up the Hole-In the Wall Road are fantastic, too.
Because of the many challenges the flowers have faced this year, though, the mid elevation flowers ARE showing signs of heat stress. See them now, they probably won’t last long. It’s time to head for the high country. The Lupine are blooming in the canyons of the southern Panamints. So are the Panamint Daisies. If you go to see the daisies, please be aware that the Lower Wildrose Road IS closed to through traffic. Paintbrush, Desert Globemallow, and Mojave Asters can be seen along all the higher elevation roads. Indigo Bushes are blooming now. Beavertail Cactus are putting out brilliant displays of fuchsia flowers. Prickly Poppies can be found along the way to Father Crowley Lookout. Take a hike up a mountain and you may be surprised at the variety of beautiful blooms to be found here. Happy flower hunting! (dm) Photo Credit: D. Milliard #DeathValleyWildflowers
Periods for Death Valley are usually...
Mid February - Mid April at lower elevations (valley floor and
* 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.
More on Death Valley
When will the desert wildflowers bloom? We start our report in January, plan your visit to coincide with the peak of the bloom - keep up to date with DesertUSA's Wildflower Reports. Be sure to bookmark this page for weekly updates.
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