Death Valley National Park
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2015 Death Valley National Park Wildflowers Reports
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
Mar 28, 2015 Death Valley National Park Reports: The show right now is at the mid-elevations. My hot spot of the week is the Salsbury Pass area on the Badwater Road. On a wildflower ranger program this past weekend, we encountered nearly 50 different species of wildflowers within just a few miles by making 2 stops, one on the east side and one on the west side of the pass. Entering the park from the east on Hwy. 190, you are greeted by some nice displays of Golden Evening Primrose, Globemallow, and Phacelia. As you approach the Badlands, look for Pygmy Cedar in bloom, luxuriant bushes of Rock Nettle blossoms, and the rounded perfection of Turtleback. Dante’s View Road is looking great, lots of Fremont Phacelia, Desert Dandelion, and Desert Gold Poppies.
There is a lot blooming on the Daylight Pass Road. On Highway 190 just west of Emigrant Campground there are some nice patches of Golden Evening Primrose, Notch Leaf Phacelia, and Broad Flowered Gilia. Beavertail Cactus and Indigo Bush have started blooming in many locations throughout the park. The strikingly bizarre shapes of Desert Trumpet, crowned by an ethereal mist of unbelievably tiny yellow flowers, is sure to catch your eye. Look for them on the Scotty’s Castle Road and Highway 190 west of Stovepipe Wells. Speaking of Scotty’s Castle, Grapevine Canyon near Scotty’s Castle is decorated with the oranges and yellows of Primrose, Globemallow, and Desert Dandelion.
If you are going into the backcountry, Greenwater Road is fantastic, and so is Gold Valley. Since the cactus are blooming, Hole In The Wall Road should be pretty nice, too. Planning a hike to look at wildflowers? Give Virgin Spring Canyon a try. I’ve heard that both Fall Canyon and Mosaic are still pretty nice, too.
There are still some nice patches of gold north of Furnace Creek, but the lower elevation bloom is pretty much over. But don’t let anyone tell you there are no flowers in Death Valley. Just take a look at the pictures. (dm) Photo Credit: Gold Valley – D. Kaiser, Salsbury Pass, Stream Orchid, Broad Flowered Gilia – D. Milliard
Mar 26, 2015 Ed the Camp Host reports: Ed the Camp Host Reports: Drove from Furnace Creek down the Greenwater Valley Road and to Shoshone over the last two days. The northern portion of the Greenwater Valley at the foot of Dantes View is continueing to bloom big, with the Checker Fiddlenecks, Gold Poppies and Fremont Phacelias being replaced by large carpets of Desert Dandelions. This area has been blooming continuously since mid- February with one spectacular wildflower after another!
On the southern end of the Greenwater Valley, there are the largest areas of blooming Fremont Pinchusions that I have ever seen with big patches of Bigelow’s Coreopsis and other smaller members of the Sunflower Family. Blooming shrubs like Pima Rhatany are also scattered across the fields of wildflowers. One hundred degree temperatures forecast for Furnace Creek, so the lower and mid-elevation wildflowers won’t last long!
Mar 25, 2015 Mary reports: Mary reports: I had only seen Death Valley in low elevation and high elevation blooms and was not sure to expect with the reports of the blooms moving to mid elevations. It was very different from what I have seen here before. From five days roaming the park, favorite spots, in order:
1. GREENWATER ROAD and GOLD VALLEY – was a Death Valley flower viewing of a lifetime. One of the prettiest spots was carpets of poppies near the beginning of the road (from the Dantes View end). After that, it was succession of Dessert Dandelion, Coreopsis, Blazing Star, and Golden Evening Primrose. One spot had Rhatany and many tiny Humble Gilia. A wash about 5 miles from the end had 20+ species of flowers blooming in it. The side 4 wheel drive road to Gold Valley, though mostly yellow, had big patches of Board-Flowered Gilia, Chia, and even a few Blue Dicks. Thank you for the previous posts that encouraged me to rent and jeep and get there.
2. Miles 4-10 of the DANTES VIEW ROAD had many of the similar flowers as on the Greenwater Road, and possible to see without a high clearance vehicle. At about mile six going up the road, a wash on the left is full of blooms including several hillsides of Golden Evening Primrose. Further up, I walked over ridge and saw a hillside of poppies.
3. The DESERT GOLD NORTH OF FURNANCE CREEK on 190, though starting to fade, are still a stunning Death Valley classic. Mile Maker 103 was especially nice. Under the Desert Gold are Desert Five Spot, Shedding Evening Primrose, Mojavea and other small annuals.
4. The bloom at SALSBERRY PASS area is fresh, and pretty.
5. The pullover at DAYLIGHT PASS has big mats of two types of fresh yellow flowers that I had trouble identifying.
6. The huge mounds of TURTLEBACK on 190 around Mile Makers 117-118 and on the lower Dantes View Road are the biggest that I have seen of this favorite flower. Thank you Camp Host Ed for pointing these out.
7. The thick GRAVEL GHOST on the southern part of Badwater Road and other places.
Mar 23, 2015 Ed the Camp Host reports: Drove up to Wildrose from Furnace Creek in Death Valley National Park on Saturday. Wildflowers below Emigrant Campground on CA 190 have dried out but there are a few interesting ones blooming on the first ten miles of the road to south to Wildrose.
Around Mile 9 on the Wildrose Road there is a stretch with clumps of Desert Indian Paintbrush, whose brilliant red flowers light up the otherwise tan vegetation. Closer to Wildrose Campground, big creamy colored tufts are those of California Buckwheat, but good luck finding a place off the narrow road to park to photograph them.
Back near the intersection with CA 190, yellow Brittlebrush line the highway, interspersed with a dozen small shrubs of deep purple flowering Indigo Bush. If you look closely around the road margin some belly plants like Rattlesnake Weed (White Margin Sandmat) make an appearance. In all not a whole lot of blooming wildflowers there, as compared to the Greenwater Valley, which we will revisit in a few days.
Mar 20, 2015 Rick and Margarita report: A hat tip and many thanks to Terry and his report. We made a quick 24 hour roundtrip to Green Valley Rd and Golden Valley on the far eastern side of DVNP. Awesome ! There are many flowers blooming from the start of Golden Valley road up to the top and down the other side. Huge carpet of yellow flowers on the Willow Cr. side. Many many varieties blooming everywhere. I have been to the 2005 and 2010 blooms and this one is right up there in beauty. West side of Salsbury Pass still good also. Huge carpets of Desert Dandilions and lots of brittle brush. I hope everyone gets a chance to see it.
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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