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2015 Death Valley National Park Wildflowers Reports

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.



Mar 20, 2015 Matt and Christy report: We made a quick tour through Death Valley (our first visit ever) on 3/20/15 in search of flowers, especially one we hadn't seen in Anza Borrego two weeks ago: The Desert Five Spot. We'd heard that they were easy to find in Death Valley, and we were not disappointed! We came into the park through the west (Panamint Springs) entrance and quickly began seeing nice displays of purple and yellow flowers. We soon began to see an occasional five spot flower, but it may have been too early in the morning, since none of them were open, just tight buds. We spotted our first open one in a wash just before Stovepipe Wells. We hoped it would not be the last, and boy it sure wasn't! We found some larger ones (more flowers open at once) along the road in Mud Canyon below Hells Gate, before heading up to Scotty's Castle.

After a quick picnic, we stopped just down the road from Scotty's Castle and found a HUGE one! We like to remember a five spot plant we found near Amboy Crater back in 2008 that we called the Desert Hundred Spot, since it had about 20 open flowers at once (20 flowers x 5 spots = 100 spot). This plant we saw at Scotty Spring didn't just break that record it SHATTERED it! I counted 20 open flowers without even getting a third of them. I still haven't counted them all on my photo, I'll leave that to the curious. There were also some nice Purple Phacelia, Apricot Mallow, Desert Dandelions, and even Indigo Bushes nearby making for quite the color display. Just south of Mesquite Spring, we spotted several Beavertail Cactus putting on a nice show with their pink flowers.

On our way out to the south over Jubilee and Salsberry Passes, we saw a nice bloom of the Desert Gold Sunflowers just south of Beatty Road. Mixed in with these were more five spots (puny by comparison, but still nice), Desert Stars, and Purple Mat. We had a little too much fun looking around, and darkness overcame us before we could reach Jubilee and Salsberry Passes, so we didn't get to see any flowers there. Awesome day!




Mar 20, 2015 Death Valley National Park Reports: The mid-elevations are the place to go for flowers this week. Dante’s View Road is looking very nice, especially above the trailer parking. Daylight Pass Road is getting some fine areas between Hell’s Gate and Daylight Pass. Golden Evening Primrose, Pincushion, Chicory and Encelia are predominant, but keep a sharp lookout for the reds of Paintbrush and the orange of Desert Globemallow. The Beavertail Cactus have started to bloom. A good place to look for them is on the Badwater Road between Ashford Mill and Salsbury Pass. There are some good belly flowers where the Brittlebush is blooming between Jubilee and Salsbury Passes. Get out and walk around a little! Encelia, Phacelia, and Globemallow are decorating the road up to Scotty’s Castle. The west side of the park is still looking good along Highway 190 between Towne’s Pass and Father Crowley Lookout. Rock Nettle and Death Valley Sage are blooming in the canyons.

If you have a high clearance vehicle, Greenwater Road is just delightful. Yellow is the main color theme, with accents of white, cream, pink and purple. Get out and take a closer look every few miles, as the yellow changes from Desert Gold Poppy to Desert Dandelion to Blazing Star to Fiddleneck to Coreopsis to Golden Evening Primrose and back again, an infinite palette of differing hues. Hot spot of the week, though, is reserved for those lucky enough to have access to a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Gold Valley!!! Ever wonder how it got the name? This is the week to find out. Unbelievable displays of coreopsis, also known as Bigelow’s Tickseed await you.

Although there are still some good patches of desert gold and gravel ghost is just about everywhere, the bloom at the lower elevation roadside flowers is just about done. The very hot weather we have continued to have (99°F on Monday) has just fried them. Hiking the canyons, like last week, are still the best bet for good flowers in the lower elevations. Get an early start, it is hot out there! (dm) Photo credit: D. Milliard


Mar 20, 2015 Ed the Camp Host Reports: The wildflower bloom in Death Valley continues to move uphill. On Tuesday, we drove CA 190 east and uphill of Furnace Creek, and found a spectacular bloom of Beavertail Cactus around Mile Marker 119, above the exit of Twenty Mule Team Canyon. Dozens of cacti are in full bloom in the boulder-strewn wash just north of the highway. Downhill around Mile Marker 118, there are huge bushes of blooming Rock Nettle in the channel of Furnace Creek Wash, alongside some large mounds of Velvet Turtleback.

So far this season, I have cataloged 60 species of wildflowers, including 30 species alone in one day last week along the southern Greenwater Valley down to Ashford Mills. The valley floor may be burning out, but the park is still blooming big!



Mar 20, 2015 Cathy Reports: Thank you very much for your website and thanks to all of those people posting their results. The value of this information was PRICELESS in planning where and when to go. Thank you to all of you. These photos were taken on 3-16-15. Photo 1 is a “spotless” Desert five-spot taken at the Ashford Mill area, Photo 2 is a Bigelow’s monkeyflower found east of Jubilee Pass, and the final two photos are of an unusual pea plant that I cannot identify found on the east side of Daylight Pass.




Mar 18, 2015 Terry Reports: We're still camped @ Furnace Creek, so I don't have a strong enough data connection to send pics now. We rented a Jeep (3/17) & went down the Green water Rd & up into Gold Valley. The road wasn't too bad but definitely requires high clearance. The wildflower displays were incredible. Thick yellow carpets of Bigelow's Coreopsis, lots of 5 Spot at the top of Willow Canyon, some paintbrush, and numerous pink, blue & white flowers I haven't looked up yet. I've been coming to DV almost every year since 1983, and is the best I've seen (including 2005) not throughout the park, but Definitely on the east side of the Black mountains... Lots of green buds too - I'd guess the peak is a week or two away.

Mar 16, 2015 Kevin Reports: Saturday morning 3-14-15 - Photo 01 – East of Jubilee Pass - Photo 02 - Jubilee Pass - Photo 03– near Scotty’s Castle




Mar 16, 2015 Claudia Reports: Death Valley - March 13 and 14 traveled from Nevada over Daylight Pass, through Hell’s Gate and down to Furnace Creek. Next day, traveled North to Scotty’s Castle and back to Nevada through GrapeVine Canyon. We saw an abundance of flowers. Too many to note all of them, but here’s a list: Several varieties of phacelia, cryptantha, gilias and primroses, desert chicory, desert dandelion, white tackstem, Mojave gold poppy and little gold poppy, pincushion, purple mat, blue dicks, globe mallow, desert five spot, chia, Mojave aster, indigo bush, pallid box thorn, bristly gilia, Blazing star, desert stars, indian paint brush, hill lotus, false wooly daisy, mojavea, silky dalea, spiny herb, sticky ringstem, beavertail cactus, and the fields of desert gold and gravel ghost. To see all of these, and more, you must stop at various elevations and hike a bit. Well worth the effort.


Mar 14, 2015 Lil Reports: Just got back from Death Valley and was thrilled
to see carpets of Sunflowers in many locales. As mentioned in earlier reports, I also observed many flowers in Jubilee Pass, Scottys Castle Area, Mud Canyon, and Ashford Mill. Saw the Desert Five -Spot in Mud Canyon, North of Furnace Creek, and Ashford Mill.




Mar 13, 2015 Death Valley National Park Reports: Have you ever had a garden, that was growing so beautifully, and just before harvest time, the bugs got it? That’s how I felt when I went down to Ashford Mill this week. The sphinx moth caterpillars have DEVOURED the flowers there. The sand verbena – gone. Literally gone, not just gone to seed, but eaten up almost completely by the voracious caterpillars. Guess it IS their garden, after all. There are lots of desert five-spot blooming, but they are covered by little red velvet mites. I don’t think they will last long enough to reach their full glory, so see them soon.



There are still fields of desert gold painting the landscape near Ashford Mill, so it is still beautiful, but no longer the hot spot. My hot spot for this week is a little further down the road and a little higher in elevation. In between Jubilee and Salsbury Passes, there is an area with lots of brittlebush blooming. Get out of your car and walk around, and find an abundance of different species, especially belly flowers, to be seen. Gravel Ghost, Fivespot, Golden, Narrow-Leaved and Shredding Evening Primroses, Desert Gold Poppy, Mohavea, Blazing Star, Bigelow Mimulus, Desert Star, Wooly Daisy and Broad-Leaved Gilia are some of the flowers I saw there.

There are nice patches of Golden Evening Primrose and Phacelia adding delightful color below the 3,000 foot level on Highway 190 west of Townes Pass. Encelias are brightening up the landscape from Panamint Springs to Father Crowley Lookout. Gravel Ghost and Fivespot, although dwarfed, are practically everywhere in the park. The Pebble Pincushion, Phacelia, Desert Fivespot and Gravel Ghost just south of Badwater are particularly nice. There are still fantastic fields of Desert Gold along Highway 190 from Furnace Creek to the Beatty Cut-off, and lots of Phacelia laying a purple carpet through Mud Canyon, but the really hot weather we had at the beginning of last week caused a lot of flowers to go to seed. I would say the lower elevation roadside bloom, although still nice, is past its peak. But there are still plenty of good flowers to be had. The higher elevations haven’t even gotten started yet!



The greatest reward is for those who venture into the canyons. With a little more shade and shelter, the flowers in many of the canyons are a week or two behind the roadside flowers and just now coming into their own. Due to the additional shade, they will probably last longer, too. Get an early start and you can also take advantage of the shade as the days get hotter. Photos by DV Park.

Along the backcountry roads, Greenwater Valley is coming into bloom. This should get better and better over the next couple of weeks. Cottonwood Canyon has a wonderful variety of blooms. Rarely seen species such as Death Valley Monkeyflower and Heart-Leaved Evening Primrose have been seen there. Marble Canyon is filled with Turtleback. The Joshua Trees are blooming in Lee Flat. They are the only things blooming there so far, though, and the road is pretty washboarded. In April when the annuals arrive, then this area will be well worth the washboard. Get out into the park and see for yourself, it’s a great time to be here. Happy flower hunting!

Mar 12, 2015 Ed the Camp Host Reports: Drove through the Greenwater Valley on Tuesday to visit the wildflowers around Salisbury and Jubilee Passes. Many wildflowers are blooming along the Greenwater Road south of Dantes View, with Gold Poppies, Fremont Phaclia and Checker Fiddleneck at the north end. On the south end there are large groups of Desert Dandelion and Desert Chicory. Also there may be Death Valley Phacelia blooming, but need to examine the wildflower books more closely to be sure.

On the east side of Salisbury Pass one mile from the summit along the hillsides and next to the road there are large carpet blooms of yellow and orange daisy-like two inch flowers interspersed with Fremont Phacelias. These may be the common Goldfields, but I haven't been able to confirm identification yet.

On the way down to Jubilee Pass the Brittlebrush is is full bloom for a mile or more just south of the road in a small arroyo. Very very pretty.

South of Ashton Miles at the intersection of Harry Wade and the Badwater Road, the very large carpet bloom of Desert Gold is beginning to burn out with the 90 degree weather of the last three days. All of the Sand Verbena and other tasty wildflowers have been consumed by the voracious Hawkmoth Caterpillars, which rampage their way through the blooms. Still the large blooms at the southern part of the park should not be missed, being the largest of their ind since the Big Bloom of 2005.

Closer to home at Furnace Creek, the gravel fan between Sunset and Texas Spring Campgrounds has suddenly bloomed with Desert Gold, after I thought it was long burned out with lesser flowers. Now is the time to come to Death Valley and begin to follow the wildflowers from the valley floor to higher elevations.

Mar 11, 2015 Rick and Margarita report: We made a quick trip back to the southern end of Death Valley. The Desert Gold in the Lava Rocks in the Ashford Mill area are starting to show early signs of stress. The rest of the Desert Gold is holding up pretty well and the bloom is moving up in elevation. To me, it looks like the better time for photography is late afternoon to sunset. The bloom for MANY other flowers is rapidly moving up in elevation from Jubilee Pass towards Salsbury Pass. Easily more than 10 different varieties of flowers. Yellow dominates the color spectrum. There is a large Brittlebush patch along the highway. A couple of areas where the ground is carpeted with yellow flowers. It is sunny and very warm in the afternoons. This bloom is progressing rapidly. GO NOW so you don't miss it.




Mar 9, 2015 Timothy Reports: Saturday the 7th 2015 near Furnace creek.


More Report on Page 2

 

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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