Posts Tagged ‘wildflowers’

Death Valley: The name itself evokes shudders of parched final days.

Yet, in the desert’s brief magical spring, the valley named for death is dotted with a glorious celebration of life: patches of delicate wildflowers of yellow, orange, pink, white, lavender blooming among fleshy green leaves and curling fronds — quickly bursting forth with fruit and seeds before the early summer sun scorches and withers.

After the drenching third week of January, which dropped nearly the desert’s normal annual rainfall in seven days, some Death Valley weather mavens are already predicting spring 2010 to offer a better-than-average wildflower display — not a “superbloom” as in spring 2005, but likely even better than what I delighted in seeing in late March 2008.

Death Valley National Park is enormous — 140 miles long and up to 60 miles wide, covering more than 5,200 square miles. Do not attempt to take a standard car on unmaintained back roads. The only gasoline inside the park is available at Furnace Creek, Panamint Springs and Stovepipe Wells, all near the middle of the park and all expensive.

Touring the desert: Maps, desert wildflower guidebooks, desert travel safety tips and suggestions as to where the best displays of wildflowers may be for the days of your visit are available at Death Valley National Park’s visitor center in Furnace Creek, which also offers ranger-guided tours.

The park also operates an informative and helpful Web site at Wildflower updates are posted every few weeks, downloadable from

In March and April, daytime highs average in the 70s and 80s and nighttime lows in the 50s, and skies are usually dry and sunny. But come prepared for greater temperature extremes: It has been known to reach the 90s in the daytime and the 30s at night. Bring sunscreen and remember to use it. Wear sturdy walking shoes or hiking boots.

The National Park Service runs eight public campgrounds in the park (; Stovepipe Wells runs an RV campground; Panamint Springs also operates a private RV and tent campground. March and April are peak tourist times, so reservations are highly recommended for both motels and campgrounds. Additional information about accommodations outside the park can be found in a visitors’ guide published by the Death Valley Chamber of Commerce (
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