Super Bloom

Death Valley Super Bloom

During late winter and early spring each year, the wildflowers bloom in Death Valley National Park. This has been a special year, however. For the past couple months, Death Valley has experienced a “super bloom,” where the number and density of the flowers, and the size of the individual plants, are all much greater than normal. A super bloom is a rare event--the last one occurred in 2005. This year’s super bloom happened thanks to several heavy rain events late last year.

Wildflowers at Sunset, Death Valley National Park

The flowers started earlier than expected. At first they were confined to the southern parts of the park down Badwater Road. They slowly worked their way north and up to higher elevations. As the flowers appeared and thickened in one area, they diminished and died out in the areas they had been before--it was like a wave of wildflowers passing through the park. The flowers are mostly gone in the valley, but they remain in the middle and higher elevations.

Early Morning Wildflowers, Death Valley National Park

I went to Death Valley several times to take advantage of the super bloom and make photographs of the wildflowers as they passed through the area. Based on what I found each week, it was fun to estimate where I should plan to photograph the following week. A great resource that helps me ultimately decide where to go each week is the National Park Service’s wildflower update. They have lots of great information there about the varieties of flower and where best to see them.

Wildflower Portrait, Death Valley National Park

I made a few different kinds of photographs of the flowers and their environment. I focused mostly on the Desert Gold flowers. They seem to be the most numerous in the lower elevations, and their bright yellow color makes them stand out the most. At certain times and places throughout this season the Desert Gold flowers appeared to blanket large areas of the terrain of Death Valley. This visible burst of life in Death Valley presents a beautiful contrast to the sometimes inhospitable environment there. The intense heat and dryness that characterize Death Valley are not present all year round, and in their absence, life flourishes visibly and beautifully.

Super Bloom, Death Valley National Park