Death Valley NP - Wildflower Reports
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Maps and more information on - Where to stay and what to see. Death Valley
Note: Wildflowers are in the southern part of the park. Badwater Road - Open from Furnace Creek to Harry Wade Road Junction. Closed beyond. From the Shoshone side it is open to the Greenwater Valley Rd junction. No estimate on when the closure will re-open. Updated Wildflower Blooming Map. Use the drop down box to change the basemap. Have fun.
2016 Death Valley National Park Wildflowers Reports
April 24, 2016 Mary Reports:
There were some beautiful areas in bloom in Death Valley April 16-19. Here is what I found.
TITUS CANYON Road (high clearance/four wheel drive) has flowers so intense in places that travelers were saying to each other it was hard to believe. There are blooms all along the 26 mile road. One area had hills covered with white pincushions interspersed with yellow that changed as one drove along between Desert Dandelions, Coreopsis, and Golden Evening Primroses. This was accented with Princes Plums starting to bloom. Other places were a rich pallet of purple from Indigo or Desert Sage, contrasted with the magenta Broad-Leafed Gilia and red Paintbrush. When the road switchbacks into Titus Canyon, there is an interesting Mariposa lily that is white with purple edging.
EMIGRANT CANYON to WILD ROSE is not as intense, but still has lots to see. Around Emigrant Pass, note the kaleidoscope of colors in the flowers along the road edge. In the area around MM 19-20, diligent search should yield spotting the tiny beautiful Lilac Sunbonnet. The canyon walls into Wildrose are a desert hanging garden with Indigo, Desert Alyssum and more. On the dirt road towards the kilns, there is pretty pink Phlox. There is promise of more flowers to come in Wildrose as the Magnificent Lupine is just budding.
SALSBERRY PASS on 178 (that can only be reached from highway 127 outside the park, due to the Badwater Road closure) has fresh pockets of flowers a few miles on both sides of the pass, and an incredible diversity of species. The flowers included gems such as Lilac Sunbonnet, Desert Five Spot, Monkey Flower, Larkspur and Whispering Bells. Walking 20 yards up a narrow wash, I counted over a dozen species packed in a small space, often just one or two plants of each kind.
DANTES VIEW ROAD has flowers from MM 10 on, with Desert Dandelion and Pincushions the dominate plants. DAYLIGHT PASS has Princes Plums and some nice flowers from the pass for a few miles going east from the summit. The area before TOWNE PASS was thick with Pincushions, but I did not have the time to what else was there.
Overall, combining the good blooms between 3,000 and 5,500 feet elevation plus a few Turtleback, Desert Gold and Gravel Ghost holding on at lower elevation, the breath of blooming species was amazing. In four days I counted close to 60 species in bloom
April 15, 2016 Death Valley National Park Reports: The mid-elevation flowers are past their peak. Last week’s hot weather was hard on the blossoms, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t flowers. Check out the photos for just a few examples of what you might still find out there. The good news is that the lower temperatures and scattered rain showers at the beginning of this week will let those blooms that have survived shine a little bit longer. Good roadside flower viewing can be found on the Dante’s View Road, Daylight Pass, and Emigrant Canyon. Even though the blooms are starting to fade at the mid elevations, they are just getting started in the higher elevations. Flowers can now be found all along the Wildrose Road, too.
If you have a high clearance vehicle, there are a few other great hotspots. The first ten miles or so of the Greenwater Road are carpeted with Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata) and Fremont Pincushion (Chaenactis fremontii). For cacti, try the Big Pine/Death Valley Road. If you’re still looking for the elusive Desert Five Spot (Eremalche rotundifolia), this is a great place to search. There are lots of them scattered along the roadside here. Titus Canyon is looking great. Prince’s Plume (Stanleya pinnata) is starting to bloom, and there are still a lot of Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes) blooming here. Keep an eye peeled for the beautiful Mojave Fishhook Cactus(Sclerocactus polyancistrus).
It’s been a great spring, with fabulous fragrances and beautiful bouquets all along the way. This is our last wildflower update of the season, but the flowers will continue to bloom for quite a few weeks. Watch the higher elevations for Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus kennedyi) var. munzi), Purple Sage (Salvia dorii), Grape Soda Lupine ((Lupinus excubitus) and Giant Four O’Clocks(Mirabilis multiflors var. glandulosa) in the weeks to come. We’ve enjoyed sharing the ephemeral beauty of an exceptional bloom in Death Valley with you, and continue to wish you Happy Flower Hunting! (dm)
Notchleaf Phacelia (Phacelia crenulata) and Broad Flowered Gilia (Gilia cana ssp. triceps) Photo credit: D. Milliard
April 7, 2016 Marcle Wildrose Canyon 4/4/2016 and Dant Peak.
April 6, 2016 Gail Reports: Purple Flower~April 4 just before sunset. Way up at the base of the mountain off I95, north of Beatty, Nevada.
April 6, 2016 Death Valley National Park Reports: There are still some nice places to find wildflowers in Death Valley. The mid-elevations are blooming in many locations throughout the park. Good places to look include the Daylight Pass Road and Dante’s View Road. Scotty’s Castle Road still has a few good spots, and some especially showy Beavertail cacti (Opuntia basilaris) can be found along this road. The Emigrant Canyon road is beginning to bloom with a sprinkling of pretty flowers all along the way. Remember, though, that the mid-elevation bloom is not as showy as the extravaganza we had earlier in the lower elevations. This is not drive-by, endless fields of flowers. You have to get out of your car and walk around to really appreciate the subtle beauty of the mid-elevation bloom. If you only have time for a drive-by, you can find a field of Desert Gold (Geraea canescens) on Stateline Road near Ash Meadows Wildlife Preserve, and some big Mojave Aster (Xylorhiza tortifolia) and Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) plants brightening the landscape closer to Pahrump. There is still some Desert Gold south of Shoshone on Highway 127, also.
If you have the proper vehicle to access our backcountry roads, there are a few other good places to check out. The Greenwater Road is still lovely, and the spur roads off of it going to Greenwater and Gold Valley are fantastic. You definitely need four wheel drive to access these spur roads .Another good drive if you have high clearance four wheel drive is the Chloride Cliffs area. I hear that's busting with flowers, too. Titus Canyon is looking good. The Death Valley/Big Pine Road is a great place to check out Purple Mat (Nama demissum), Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus arborescens var. Minutifolius), and Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), among others. Some of the spur roads (Four wheel drive required) off the Big Pine Road are quite good, but please be aware of how remote these roads can be and do not take them if not fully prepared for self rescue. It's getting really hot out there, make sure you have plenty of water wherever you go.
Hiking in the canyons at the mid-elevations is a great way to really appreciate what Death Valley has to offer, and to see a few species not generally seen along the roadside. For instance, Panamint Daisies (Enceliopsis colvillei) are blooming in some of the canyons in the southern Panamints. Wherever you choose to go, happy flower hunting! (dm)
Mar 31, 2016 Death Valley National Park Reports:
If you didn’t make it to Death Valley for the big fields of flowers at the lower elevations, don’t despair. All hope is not lost! Good things come to those who wait. Cactus is blooming!
The cacti are not the only things blooming. Instead of endless fields of Desert Gold, the mid-elevations are all about diversity. There are over forty different flowers blooming in Death Valley right now, and it is not unusual to find two dozen species on a single hike! But you DO have to get out of your car and look around a little to appreciate what is out there.
If you are in a standard vehicle, you may want to check out the Dante’s View Road, Daylight Pass, or the Scotty’s Castle Road. Coming into the park from the east, keep an eye open for Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris) and Rock Nettle (Eucnide urens) for the first few miles into the park. If you are entering from the west, there are still some nice Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa) as well as Prickly Poppy (Argemone corymbosa) on the curves around Father Crowley, and the Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) is looking good as you travel up Towne Pass. If you stop to look at flowers, don’t stop on a curve with no visibility, and please make sure your tires are completely off the pavement so that you don’t create a road hazard.
Goldfields(Lasthenia gracilis) and Snake's Head (Malacalthrix coulteri) Photo credit: D. Milliard
The Greenwater Road is looking great. If you have high clearance four wheel drive, you can find out how Gold Valley got its name. Death Valley/ Big Pine Road and Titus Canyon are great drives for those with high clearance two wheel drive vehicles. The Golden Evening Primrose Camissonia brevipes) and Brittlebush are about done in Echo Canyon and Hole In The Wall, but are being replaced by Beavertail Cactus, Silver Cholla (Cylindropuntia echinocarpa), Indigo Bush ((Psorothamnus arborescens var. minutifolius), Rock Nettle and some amazing specimens of Death Valley Sticky Ring (Anulocaulis annulatus), an unusual plant that lives only in the Death Valley area. If you plan on doing any dispersed camping on our backcountry roads, please, please, PLEASE remember that it is designated wilderness out there. Your vehicle can be NO MORE than 50 feet from the centerline of the road. Please do not drive across the desert so you can camp in “the perfect spot” and leave your tire tracks marring the desert for years. Happy flower hunting! (dm)
Mar 28, 2016 Lou Reports: Just got back from spending 4 days in Death Valley with the focus on looking at the wildflowers. The recent recommendations for Daylight Pass, road to Dante’s Peak, Greenwater Valley are dead-on.
May I offer a few more locations not mentioned recently.
1. Do not sign-off on the massive Desert Gold super bloom within the 190 - Beatty Road - Beatty Cutoff triangle. I know you have mentioned it before. All of the 100,000’s of plants appear to be still alive with each plant containing multiple blossoms and buds. The hills still retain the golden-greenish hue. Best viewed from 190 near Salt Creek turn and Beatty Cutoff around miles 2 - 4. About a 1 mile hike brings you into the center of the main bloom.
2. Both sides of Salsberry Pass on 178 are really nice with wide diversity and big numbers. Unfortunately the only way in is from 127 or Greenwater Valley Road.
3. The road to Ubehebe Crater from Grapevine intersection has a nice display dominated by white flowers
4. Found only one type of cactus blooming, nice examples can be found along Beatty Cutoff (upper portion), and road to Mesquite Springs campground.
5. Desert Five Spots are continuing to bloom with some plants having more buds than flowers. Look for them on west side of Salsberry Pass (close to the road closure), Ubehebe Crater road mixed in with the white flowers, trail from Titus Canyon to Fall Canyon, and the west side of 127 south of 190 intersection (while waiting for construction, spied a number along the roadside).
6. Finally, came across another super bloom along 395 between Independence and Lone Pine along the west side of the road.
Thanks for the web site and the up-to-date info. Made my trip very easy.
Mar 28, 2016 Willam Reports: While looking for flowers in Titus Canyon I took a side canyon just past the narrows and got this, not wildflowers. I came upon 2 Big Horn Sheep, one was much larger and disappeared. The other stayed around and actually came closer then went up the slope of the canyon. Quite a surprise.
Mar 28, Kat: Brian Reports: Pictures were take about 2 miles in on Gold valley road after turning off of Greenwater Valley road. Road was ok - no 4wd necessary but high clearance is a plus . Lots of flowers! Pictures taken 3-24-2016
Mar 28, 2016: Brian Reports: All these were taken March 25-26. Everything seems to be blooming at 3-4000 feet, no matter where you are in the park. Very cool!
Mar 25, 2016: Virginia Reports: These photos were taken in Death Valley National Park on the weekend of March 19-20, 2016.
Mar 25, 2016: Death Valley National Park Reports: The bloom has definitely moved on to the mid-elevations. Great places to see the flowers now are the Daylight Pass Road and the road to Dante’s View. Some flowers are blooming at the 2-3,000 foot elevations on Townes Pass and on the curvy road to Father Crowley Lookout.
Another quiet gem of a drive is the Scotty’s Castle Road. Although there are not a lot of big showy patches of flowers along this road, some of the individual plants are absolutely exquisite. Diversity increases as you go further north. Going on to Ubehebe Crater, the Purple Mat (Nama demissum) looks striking against the black volcanic rock.
One place in the lower elevations that still seems to be hanging in there is Artist’s Drive. That is because most of the drive is in canyons, which are a little more protected from the sun and wind than the wide open alluvial fans. With that in mind, if you want to hike and see flowers, canyons are your best bet. Even the lower elevation canyons still contain a multitude of blooms, so go explore one of the wrinkles in the landscape and see what treasures you can find.
For dirt road back road explorers, there are lots of possibilities. Although the higher elevations are just getting started, the lower end of Titus Canyon is in full bloom now. Hole In The Wall and Echo Canyon are bursting with Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris) blooms. I hear good things about the Big Pine/Death Valley Road, too.
Don’t travel the Greenwater Road if you’re tired of yellow. But if you’re not, you will see a parade of gold, as one species after another puts on a show. Have fun exploring, but keep in mind that our back roads require high clearance, and for many of them you need four wheel drive, too. Wherever you go, happy flower hunting! (dm)
Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata) Photo Credit: D. Milliard
Mar 25, 2016: Virginia Reports: These are the hills leading to Titus Canyon in Death Valley National Park. Taken on March 20, 2016. El Nino rains covered it in a super bloom of plant li
Mar 23, 2016: Brad Reports: The bloom is moving uphill! Dense displays of notch-leaved phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), desert dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), gravel ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla) and desert pincushion (Chaenactis stevioides) are in the gravel washes along the road from Death Valley Junction to Furnace Creek. The road to Dantes View has some nice aggregations of the yellow evening primrose desert cups (Chylisma brevipes).
Along the north end of the Greenwater Road, at about 3500 feet, desert dandelion, desert cups and Bigelow's coreopsis (Leptosyne bigelovii--endemic to California) are filling the spaces between the creosote bushes.
Above 4000 feet the bloom is mostly just beginning, but there are some locally well-developed displays along the 4x4 tracks that loop west from the Greenwater Road toward the Greenwater and Furnace historic sites. Most of the species are very different from lower down: yellow tack-stem (Calycoseris parryi), snakes' head (Malacothrix coulteri), california poppy, whitestem blazing star (Mentzelia albicaulis), and several beautiful blue-flowered species including Fremont's phacelia (Phacelia freemontii) and showy gilia (Gilia cana). In places, dense aggregations of the diminutive Wallace's woolly daisy (Eriophyllum wallacei) color the slopes yellow. Blooming shrubs include Spiny desert olive (Menodora spinescens) and the weird turpentine broom (Thamnosma montana).
By far the most spectacular bloom is in Deadman's Pass, a rough 4x4 track that runs east from Greenwater Valley Road twoard Highway 127. Massive displays of desert cups, desert dandelion, desert pincushion, desert chickory (Rafinesquia neomexicana), gravel ghost, phacelias and more. Absolutely stunning!
Mar 21, 2016: Clark Reports: Pictures were taken 3/20/16. As the post below from Rick and Margarita stated, the cactus are about to explode along the Beatty Cutoff and Daylight Pass. The Desert Gold, while not what they were a couple weeks ago, remain vibrant on 190 north of Salt Creek – this image doesn’t do it justice since the sun was at full strength yesterday.
I hope that your posts remain positive about the flowers that are visible around the valley. I appreciate that your posts are intended to keep people informed but when using the terms “beat up” it gives visitors the impression that they won’t see any flowers. As a new resident since June last year, there is still an amazing amount of color displayed even at the lower elevations. Compared with what it was near Ashford Mills earlier, it certainly is not as dense but it still is impressive for us newcomers.
Mar 18, 2016: Melodie Reports: Summary of wildflowers locations
- Desert Gold fields between mile markers 23 and 28 on Badwater Road, south of the salt flats.
- More Desert Gold fields with Gravel Ghost in the Beatty Cutoff-Daylight Pass Road-190 triangle (this is a beautiful drive itself).
- Desert Five Spot and others at the exit to the 20 Mule Team road on 190.
- Purple Mat all over Ubehebe Crater.
- The most varied flowers along the roadside of the Mesquite Spring Campground entrance, and around Jayhawker Canyon area off of Emigrant Canyon Road.
- Desert Paintbrush around mile 16 of Emigrant Canyon Road.
Mar 18, 2016: Goly Reports: Titus Canyon was the best place to see flowers March 11, 12,13. We took most of the drives. And Titus was exciting and offered the most variety.
Mar 18, 2016: Rick and Margarita report: Tues. 3/15/16 Greenwater Valley Rd. (also called Furnace Cr. Wash Rd) has flowers blooming along the length of the road. Gold Valley Rd is very very good right now all the way to Willow Spring. It is not quite as good as last year but close and worth the trip. You may need 4x4 to get all the way to Willow Spring. Greenwater Valley Rd intersection to Dante's View looked sparse. From the intersection to highway 190 still has nice flowers. Furnace Cr Visitor's Center to Beatty cutoff rd to Hell's gate pretty beat up by the wind and heat. Get out and walk around for the most enjoyment. Hell's Gate to Daylight Pass still looking very good. Echo Canyon to the narrows pretty beat up also. However the cactus are really starting to take off. Narrows up to Inyo Mine Site has quite a few flowers still in pretty good shape but some in direct sunlight showing some stress
More reports from 2016 Death Valley Click Here
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.
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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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