Life In Death: The Death Valley Super Bloom
About once per decade, California’s Death Valley has a rare and extraordinary event: The Death Valley Super Bloom. Instead of the desolate and barren landscape that it is famous for, Death Valley becomes covered with millions of delicate, beautiful wildflowers.
Causes Of The Death Valley Super Bloom
You wouldn’t expect it, but the ground of Death Valley is permanently coated in a layer of flower seeds which rarely get the opportunity to bloom. However, when an unusually wet and stormy winter comes around, usually during an El Niño year, the valley becomes flooded and the millions of seeds are given the rare chance to thrive. When all of these elements come together under just the right conditions, you get the spectacular Death Valley Super Bloom.
Drawing A Crowd
When I was there just last week, the Death Valley Park Rangers told me they were preparing for the busiest weekend the park had ever seen in the history of Death Valley! Thanks to the rare super bloom combined with press coverage and social media being more prominent than ever, hordes of visitors were pouring into the park in droves to see this rare phenomenon.
Luckily I was visiting during the week when it was still reasonably quiet, but as I was leaving early Friday afternoon I could see dozens of cars driving in to the park. Even during my weekday visit, every camp site and hotel in the park sold out (glad I secured my camp site at 8 am the day I arrived!).
The Best Places To See The Death Valley Super Bloom
Although you can see the flowers almost anywhere in the park during a super bloom, there are a few spots that really showcase the incredible numbers of flowers.
The Salt Creek Trail Area
This was by far the most popular area to view the wildflowers. Starting on highway 190 from the south east end at the Salt Creek Trail turnoff and heading up north west for about 1/4 mile, park anywhere you think looks good and join the legions of others who are there to do the same.
It would seem counter-intuitive that the road leading to the most inhospitable section of the park could have some of the best wild flowers, but it does! I liked this area in particular because of the contrast between the dark rocks and bright yellow flowers.
There are many sections of blooming flowers along this road, but my favorite area (and probably the most dense) was right across the road from the turnoff for the Devil’s Golf Course. You’ll get the best contrast here and if you walk out just a little ways into the flowers you’ll be surrounded in every direction!
If you want to catch the Death Valley Super Bloom before it disappears for another 10 years, you better carve out a few days this month to check it out. According to park rangers, the flowers will start disappearing by late March this year, so get planning if you don’t want to wait another decade! You can get real-time updates on the Death Valley Super Bloom at the National Park Service Website.