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Death Valley bucks the drought, good wildflower show on right now

April 3, 2014

Desert gold, one of the many wildflowers of Death Valley making a show this spring. Photo/Wendilyn Grasseschi

Headslapper!

About the only place around that isn't in a drought is the hottest, driest place in the country—Death Valley National Park, where the wildflowers are turning out quite a show. 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. Although the bloom isn't one of the park's epic and infrequent blooms, it's still a very good show, according to the park.

Here's where to go:

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.

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.

As always, be sure to stop and take a closer look to discover the wonderful diversity of wildflowers, but do not block traffic by parking on the roadway.

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