Death Valley’s stunning spring wildflower display has already begun, thanks to record October rains. Typically, wildflowers begin to bloom in February and March. According to Amargosa Conservancy Executive Director Patrick Donnelly, “We had the wettest October in recorded history.” He said Death Valley received its average entire annual rainfall—three inches—in a matter of weeks.
“We’re seeing an extraordinarily early bloom,” he said. “We’re probably approaching the peak within the next week, and then it’s working its way up in elevation, from 1,500 to 2,000 feet.”
The Death Valley National Park website notes that the floor of Death Valley, particularly south of Furnace Creek along Badwater Rd., is currently the best spot to view wildflowers. These wildflowers include desert gold, also called desert sunflower, sand verbena, brown-eyed primrose, and caltha-leaved phacelia, which Donnelly described as “a big, beautiful, purple flower.”
According to the Park Service, “the canyons of the southern Black Mountains have all of the above, as well as shredding evening primrose on the alluvial fans. Desert star, golden evening primrose, broadleaved gilia, and mohavea can be found in the washes, and caltha-leaved phacelia is coming into its own, covering whole hillsides in some of the canyons … Reports have come in of panamint daisies starting to bud in the southern Panamint Mountains.”
Donnelly said he’s also recently seen desert gold poppy cropping up at about 2,000 feet of elevation outside of Shoshone, where the Amargosa Conservancy headquarters is located.
“It’s not just the annuals that are coming in,” he said; “lower perennials like bitterbrush and sage are also starting to bloom.”
He noted that even as some species begin to fade, others will take over. That said, neither he nor anyone can predict how long this season’s bloom will last.
“It’s a weird spring, so it’s a little unpredictable as to what’s happening right now,” he said. “No one really knows whether March will be outstanding, or whether the flowers will have withered away by then.”
The Amargosa Conservancy is hosting wildflower tours on Sunday, January 31, Saturday, February 6, and Sunday, February 21. Tours leave from the Amargosa Conservancy office in Shoshone at 10 a.m.
For more information on Death Valley’s wildflowers, visit the Death Valley National Park wildflower page at www.nps.gov/deva/learn/nature/wildflowers.htm, or visit the Park’s Facebook page.