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purple mat death valley by Robb Hannawacker
Purple Mat in Death Valley. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.

Everybody wants more! More flowers! Each year the desert fills with varying levels of color. 

A “superbloom” in Death Valley is a rare occurrence which only happens when conditions are just perfect for millions of wildflowers to bloom. The 2016 bloom, declared the best in a decade, brought a huge swell of park visitors in to see colors overwhelm what many people view as a rather muted landscape.

People aren’t quite sure when Death Valley will put on another spectacular show, but if flowers ARE in bloom in Death Valley, you must go! By mid-April we will have seen most the flowers bloom at lower elevations; after that, the show moves higher up the mountain sides.

Will there be another “superbloom” this year? Let’s look at the conditions and those flowers’ requirements:

According to the Death Valley National Park website, a superbloom requires at least three factors:

  • Well-spaced rainfall throughout the winter and spring
  • Sufficient warmth from the sun
  • Lack of drying winds
Caltha Leaf Phacelia
Caltha Leaf Phacelia in Death Valley. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.

Well-spaced rainfall

“The best blooms are triggered by an early, winter-type rainstorm in September or October, followed by an El Niño weather pattern that brings above average rainfall to the Desert Southwest.”

Sufficient warmth

“Wildflower seeds that sprout with cool winter storms often remain small and low to the ground until the springtime sun starts to warm the soil.”

Lack of drying winds

“Frequent springtime windstorms without additional rain can bring about a quick end to the spring bloom or even prevent it from happening by killing off delicate sprouts. Dry, moving air dehydrates exposed surfaces of all living things…”

What do you think? Were conditions right this year? One great way to find out is to go visit the park and find out for yourself! Bring plenty of water and a camera!

turtle back death valley by robb hannawacker
Turtle Back in Death Vally. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.

To find out more, please visit the Death Valley National Park Facebook Page. To see more options in the Owens Valley, check out the Bishop Visitor Wildflower Guide and Map.

Also, there are some great flower reports to be had at the DesertUSA website.

death valley gold - robb hannawacker
Desert Gold flowers in Death Valley. Photo by Robb Hannawacker.