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2014 Death Valley National Park Wildflowers Reports

Dec 1, 2014 DUSA Reports: Rain is expected this week in the park, 7/1/14 through today: 0.41 inches of precipitation. 70% change of rain on Tuesday evening.

May 2, 2014 Death Valley Park reports: As temperatures warm up, the wildflowers in lower elevations are fading, but in the Panamint Mountains the party is just getting started. Along the Emigrant Canyon Road, the high desert valleys and hillsides are rich with flowering shrubs with blankets of annuals filling the spaces between. Along the Aguereberry Point Road there is a lovely hillside thick with globemallow, lavender broad-flowered gilia, and intensely orange mariposa lily peaking now. Watch for flowering shrubs like paperbag bush and indigo bush as you drive toward Wildrose. In the weeks to come expect an outstanding display of hopsage, with its colorful clusters of seedpods that change from yellow to pink to wine-red.

Eureka Valley flowers may be rounding things up around the dunes, but in the surrounding mountains the bloom is still going strong. Along the road from the west, watch for the yellow cotton-thorn bushes, white globemallow and an unusual form of notch-leaf phacelia with dark stems and upright growth.

April 30, 2014 Mary reports: Photos From Death Valley National Park, April 25 - 28, 2014 The bloom the Park Service reported on April 11 is still going strong in Towne Pass and in Emigrant Canyon/Wildrose. An easy place to pull off to see flowers in Towne Pass is by a dirt road about a mile west of Towne Pass (on the south side of the road). Parking there and walking up the road goes into a pretty area of Prince's Plum, Indigo, Paper Bag Bush and Golden Evening Primrose. The road from Emigrant Canyon to Wildrose is a succession of blooms that start with Gravel-Ghost, and a few Humble Gilia, Desert Star and Gold Poppy. Around mile marker 7 there are brilliant red Desert Paint Brush, Desert Dandelion, Larkspur and Indigo.

I even saw a Mariposa Lily tucked under a bush. Around where the road starts to descend there are three golden hills – one of Desert Dandelion and Blazing Star, one of thick Blazing Star and one of Golden Evening Primrose. On down the road, before the canyon going into Wildrose, several gravel areas have lots of Lilac Sunbonnet. Many spots along the road are lined with Broad-Flowered Gilia which is having a good year. Beavertail Cactus are also in bloom along the road. At Wildrose, Prince’s Plum is blooming nicely.

The drive from Wildrose campground to Charcoal Kilns has what I consider special flower treats. There are a few (and hard to find) Mariposa Lilies and Giant Four O'clocks. Once the road turns to gravel, there are several three feet tall Magnificent Lupine and a very pretty pink Phlox (of uncertain variety). If you are visited soon, expect to work around road resurfacing that started 4/28/14 and is projected to take about five days. Photos are from Emigrant Canyon to Wildrose.

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April 11, 2014 Death Valley Park reports: Towne Pass & Emigrant Canyon have the most easily accessible wildflowers in the park right now. The bloom is now up to the top of Towne Pass and getting stronger. Besides fields of white Pincushion and yellow Blazing Star thick among the black lava talus, watch for Mojave Aster, Globemallow, Death Valley Phacelia, pink Hop-sage and Indigo Bush. Soon the tall spikes of yellow Prince's Plume will be putting on a grand display.

Greenwater Valley is very nice with flowers now. If you visit in midday you will see the Desert Dandelion and Gold Poppy covering the desert floor, but as the long shadows of afternoon slide across the valley those flowers will close and the fragrant white Evening Snow will open to continue the show. This mid-elevation valley is Desert Tortoise habitat and they are most active when springtime vegetation provides abundant food. Watch carefully as you travel this graded dirt road and be sure to check under your car before driving off. A tortoise may be there seeking shelter from the sun.

Eureka Dunes is home to several endemic plant species, but getting to see them takes good timing and some effort. The road to the dunes is long and currently very washboard, but passable to most high-clearance vehicles. Near the campground are fields of Desert Marigold and large Yellow Desert Evening Primrose. If you walk or drive (deep sand, 4x4 only) around to the east side of the dunes you will find the best flowers. The rare Eureka Dune Evening Primrose are blooming prolifically on that side, along with thick areas of orange Globemallow. The bloom was just starting in the first week of April and will soon be peaking. PLEASE tread lightly if you visit here as the flowers are delicate and rare. All off-road vehicle use is strictly prohibited.

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Saline Valley has been nearly inaccessible to most visitors due to road damage from rainstorms, but the road was recently graded just in time to enjoy rain-triggered wildflowers. On the South Pass entrance to the valley the bloom is getting nice around the 3000 feet level with bright orange Desert Mariposa Lily popping open here and there.

April 11, 2014 Shawn reports: The CA190 roadside west of the entrance and east side of Towne Pass were a very nice display of golden evening primrose, Globemallow, and a sprinkling of bright red Desert Paintbrush. There was also lots of blue phacelia and purple varieties that I don't recognize.

The best show was at an old mill site at mile marker 7 on the Wildrose road. There was the very fragant purple chia and desert sage, blue phacelia, hillsides of yellow golden evening Primrose, desert dandelions, and some really fantastic Mojave Asters as well as globemallow, indigo bush, ...

We visited on 8 and 9 April 2014. It was hot on the valley floor - but quite pleasant at higher elevations.

April 8, 2014 Helen reports: Emigrant area 3000-4000 ft.

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April 1, 2014 Death Valley Park reports: Much to our surprise, wildflowers are turning out to having a pretty decent bloom this spring after all. Rainfall in the higher elevations—especially in the Panamint Mountains—are allowing a late spring bloom, and it may only get better and higher up as the temperatures warm.

On paved roads: South of Badwater, on the west side of Salsberry Pass there are carpets of yellow Desert Dandelion, Wooly Daisy and Gold Poppy. For the full effect, visit on a sunny mid-day as the dandelion and poppys open only in direct sunlight. Along Highway 190, between Emigrant Campground and Towne Pass are orange Globemallow, yellow White-Stemmed Blazing Star, white Gravel Ghost, pale purple and yellow Mojave Aster and vine-like Death Valley Phacelia. In lower Emigrant Canyon the bloom is about to peak. Hillsides are covered with Golden Evening Primrose, white Pebble Pincushion, and lavender Fremont Phacelia and Broad-flowered Gilia. The showy magenta flowers of Beavertail Cactus are popping open throughout the park, and if you look closely you may also notice the green flowers on the Golden Cholla. Bit by bit, high desert flowers like scarlet Indian Paintbrush, richly-hued Indigo Bush, sky-blue Desert Larkspur, tall spikes of Princes Plume and multi-colored Hopsage are just starting to appear.

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On backcountry roads: On the north end of Greenwater Valley you can find fields of Desert Dandelion, Fremont Phacelia, Tickseed and Coreopsis. At Eureka Dunes the rare white (fading to pink) Eureka Dune Evening Primrose is just starting to bloom and will have an exceptional flowering season with huge plants already in place. The large flowered Yellow Evening Primrose and Desert Marigold are now the show. At Lee Flat, the Joshua Trees are blooming nicely this year. This is the best to see these tree-sized yuccas in the park. The canyons on the east side of the Panamint Mountains that were flooded out last summer are thick with yellow Brittlebush this spring. The roads in the washes are still a mess, but worth walking into from the canyon mouths.

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Mar 29, 2014 - Tom reports: Fremont's Milkvetch, 21 Mar 1014 along road to Scotty's Castle and Mosaic Canyon, DVNP

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Mar 25, 2014 - Death Valley reports: With the ongoing drought in California, wildflowers sightings are a bit more fragmented in Death Valley this spring. Wet winter storms are necessary for a good bloom in the desert, but this year has been very dry. The rain that fell late February should give a boost to flowers that have already sprouted, but it is too late for many new seeds to sprout and come into full bloom before the heat and dry winds cause the delicate annuals to wither.

Spotty rainstorms last autumn did cause some annuals to sprout in the southern extreme of Death Valley. Look for areas of roadside flowers around Jubilee Pass on the southern Badwater Road. Along the Harry Wade Road, Ibex Dunes and Saratoga Springs, there are slopes and washes with scattered patches of flowers. Although there is good variety, the plants in these locations are blooming while still small, a sign they are bolting to a quick finish to set seed before drying up. The recent rain should help them keep going. In the Emigrant Canyon / Towne Pass area watch for wildflowers that tend to be much larger and more robust than those down south, but they are appearing as individuals instead of patches.

One of our rangers drove CA-190 above the Emigrant Campground, calling it "a pleasure to the senses...make sure to keep the windows down, and breathe deeply." Another ranger drove through Greenwater Valley calling it "ablaze with blooms." We're also getting reports of flowers on Hole-in-the-Wall Road and Dante's View Road.

Mar 23, 2014 - Kevin reports: Taken 3-20-14 along 190 west of Emigrant Campground. I didn't really see much in the way of wildflowers below about 1500 feet, but above that elevation there were a variety of flowers.

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Mar 23, 2014 - Rebecca reports: More flowers at the higher elevations. These are on 190 between Emigrant and Towne Pass.

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Mar 17, 2014 - Death Valley reports: Picking flowers in the park can be hazardous!
LOOK but DON’T TOUCH applies to the Phaceliea crenulata plant. You will see many of these purple beauties blooming along the side of some of Death Valley’s roads and the Furnace Creek Visitor Center. Phaceliea can cause contact dermatitis, which is skin irritation like poison with welts, rash even itching. This condition can last a few days or weeks depending on your allergic reaction. Enjoy the flowers and take photographs.

Mar 10, 2014 - Jim reports: Roadside flowers around Jubilee Pass on the southern Badwater Road. Not many this year, have to search to find them.

Mar 5, 2014 - Death Valley reports: With the ongoing drought in California, don't expect many wildflowers in Death Valley this spring. Wet winter storms are necessary for a good bloom in the desert, but this year has been very dry. The rain that fell this last weekend should give a boost to flowers that have already sprouted, but it is too late for many new seeds to sprout and come into full bloom before the heat and dry winds cause the delicate annuals to wither.

Spotty rainstorms last autumn did cause some annuals to sprout in the southern extreme of Death Valley. Look for areas of roadside flowers around Jubilee Pass on the southern Badwater Road. Along the Harry Wade Road, Ibex Dunes and Saratoga Springs, there are slopes and washes with scattered patches of flowers. Although there is good variety, the plants in these locations are blooming while still small, a sign they are bolting to a quick finish to set seed before drying up. The recent rain should help them keep going. In the Emigrant Canyon / Towne Pass area watch for wildflowers that tend to be much larger and more robust than those down south, but they are appearing as individuals instead of patches.

Overall, I would not come to Death Valley specifically to view wildflowers, but if you are already here you should keep your eyes open for color, and be sure to stop the car to take a closer look.

Mar 3, 2014 - Jim reports: A third of an inch at Furnace Creek. Some wildflowers in the southern part of the park. Some of the backcounty road are closed. Cottonwood Cayon Rd - Impassable due to standing water and deep mud.
Dantes View Rd - Caution advised due to debris on the roadway.

Feb 28, 2014 Death Valley reports: Flowers are blooming in Death Valley NP on the Harry Wade Rd & Saratoga Springs. It is raining now.

Feb 21, 2014 Garry reports: Saw flowers last weekend at just one location in Death Valley, despite traveling all the main paved roads, a few sparse Desert Gold, poppies and Phaecelia between Exclamation Point and Ashford Mill.

desert gold
Click here to see more of Garry's photos

Feb 6, 2014 DUSA reports: No wildflower report to date, very dry. Road work has finished at Zabriskie Point. The overlook and parking area are now open.

Jan 13, 2014 DUSA reports: No wildflower report to date, very dry, 7/1/13 through 1/13/14: 1.43 inches. No rain in the last two weeks. Very dry and about 70º F (21º C).

Snow and ice at the higher elevationns, some of the 4X4 trail had flood damage from last year rain. Scotty’s Castle Road is still being work on, expect up to 30 minute delays. Racetrack Road -- Do not walk on playa, it is wet and muddy.

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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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More on Death Valley Park

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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Photos tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography.

Mojave Desert Wildflowers - This book is 210 printed pages with 200 color photos. More...

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