Trail and I were enjoying southern Arizona and planning to continue making our way deeper into the state when I got a Facebook message from our good friend Dennis. He was saying there was a Super Bloom likely to happen in Death Valley this year and that he was thinking of driving down for it, wondering if we might be in the area.
One of our guiding principles is to take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves and staying flexible in our travels. This seemed like one of those moments so I floated the idea to Trail of changing course and heading north to check out this event. After a little research, we were convinced and Trail changed our reservations to a resort just outside of Death Valley National Park in the town of Pahrump, Nevada. The next day we were on our way there!
A Super Bloom is an event when Death Valley has an explosion of wildflowers in areas that normally appear almost completely barren. It requires a sizable amount of rain both in the fall of the prior year and the early winter/spring of the year of the bloom. The first rain washes off chemicals from wildflower seeds which otherwise keep them dormant. The second rain gives them the nourishment they need to grow and bloom.
And bloom they do, from mid-February through May successive waves of wildflowers spring up in vast numbers and carpet the landscape with vibrant color. They aren’t found everywhere and they come in waves with the lower elevations going first, and then successively higher elevations as time goes on. Each area and time period has its own sets of flowers.
As of February 29, 2016, here’s a list of where we found flowers blooming:
- Furnace Creek Wash
- Badwater Road – especially between Badwater Basin and Mormon Point
- Ubehebe Crater – inside the crater, we mostly found mostly Desert gold poppies
- Beatty Cut-Off Road
- Highway 190 north – just after Zabriskie Point heading east
I’m happy to say we were not disappointed. At first, we only found small patches of yellow and purple flowers by the roadside, pretty but not especially dramatic. However, traveling south down the valley we were treated to successively more abundant displays until whole sections of the desert were carpeted with vibrant yellow flowers known as Desert Gold. The contrast of the harsh desert covered in flowers and knowing it is a rare event that only lasts for a short time really makes the experience feel special. If there is any way you can come check it out, you absolutely should. The displays should continue into April, but always check the Death Valley Nation Park’s Wildflower Page for updates.
Even were there no flowers here, Death Valley is simply an amazing place. It’s going to take a lot more blog posts to give you an idea just how amazing this place is. We’ve been exploring at a breakneck pace and we’ve already decided to stay a second week to take it all in.