Last winter we wandered through some of the most parched and arid landscapes on earth so it was great news to hear that an exceptionally strong El Nino was forecasted for the southwest this winter.
As we now know the predicted wet El Nino has proven to be less then expected, but there was enough moisture deposited by several storms to drastically change the way the desert looked especially in Death Valley National Park.
Super blooms are not a common occurrence in the southwest desert. They typically only develop every 10 years or so or during what we now call an El Nino year.
Not only did these recent hard rains make for fantastic flower growth but in October they washed out several roads within the park and damaged Scotty’s Castle.
We spent a lot of time this winter monitoring several weather forecasting sites to insure we were not caught in flash flood situation while boon docking in the southwest. But at the same time we realized that if the rains did come eventually they would turn the desert into a flower garden.
While we were “Breezing Along The Big Sur” coast we were keeping close track of several potential bloom areas. Anza Borrego, Figueroa Mt, Carizzo Plains and the poppy preserves near Lancaster were all beginning to show signs of a big year.
When the news broke that Death Valley was probably going to be elevated to a “Super Bloom” status, we immediately decided to go!
We hurriedly left the coast and drove east back into the desert. As our elevation dropped near Furnace Creek we noticed the temperature was rising. At the low point near Bad Water it reached 94 degrees.
This was the warmest temperature we had experienced so far this winter and one that we normally try and stay away from. It was not going to be easy on the big dogs.
But the flowers were spectacular and we felt lucky to be in the park. In some areas the flowers were just budding and others were just wilting, but it was a full on bloom!
Because of the heat and its direct relation to the well being of our mountain dogs, we only spent two days photographing and walking through the fields of flowers. The pups relaxed in the air-conditioned comfort of the Zefyr which idled all day long.
We hiked up canyons, walked along ridge tops and wandered out across flat dry lakes. There were flowers everywhere.
Even though we expected flowers it was still amazing that so much life could erupt from what is normally barren dry ground. All it takes is water!
The Park was packed with fellow flower chasers. The campgrounds at Furnace Creek were almost full, there were people parked everywhere along every road enjoying the incredible scene.
While dawdling near the Visitor Center we ran into fellow bloggers Mike and Imkelina other wise known as the BlaNics. We just missed meeting these fine folks in Joshua Tree NP back in December. It was great to finally get to meet them in person.
Although Death Valley’s super bloom was a short visit for us, this segment of our winters sojourn was probably one of the more awe inspiring.
We were witness to something that only happens very occasionally and we feel very lucky to have been able to make the journey.
Flower photography by Denise Taylor
Hope you enjoy our latest video “Alive In Death Valley” so pop in your ear buds, grab a cool beverage and turn up the volume. Be sure to watch it in HD if you can.
Next we head back to Thousand Oaks Calif and hang with family for a while.
keep you posted…..!