Death Valley "super bloom" carpets desert with color Tourists take a picture of wildflowers near Badwater Basin in Death Valley, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Death Valley "super bloom" carpets desert with color
Lexile

A rare "super bloom" of wildflowers in Death Valley National Park in California has covered the hottest and driest place in North America with a carpet of gold, attracting tourists from all over the world. The flowers are enchanting visitors with a stunning display from nature's paint brush.
 
Death Valley National Park is the hottest and driest place in North America and it holds a world record for the hottest temperature ever recorded. It was 134 degrees Fahrenheit on July 10, 1913. It's also home to the lowest elevation in North America, a place that's 282 feet below sea level. It is called Badwater Basin. Every spring, some wildflowers do bloom before it gets scorching hot but the abundance of flowers this year is extremely unusual and happens about once every decade.
 
The last time there was a bloom of this magnitude was in 2005 and the time before that was in 1998.
 
Death Valley's average annual rainfall is 2 inches a year. Sometimes, it gets no rain at all.
 
This season, the park got three very rare rainstorms in the first two weeks of October that left behind more than 3 inches of rain in some parts of the valley. That was enough to trigger the growth of millions of wildflower seeds that have been dormant in the earth awaiting significant rainfall.
 
No one knows how long seeds can wait for rain, but the last "super bloom" in 2005 led to the blossoming of some flowers that had never been seen before in the park - indicating their seeds had been dormant for many years.
 
The most abundant and eye-catching wildflower is the aptly named desert gold, a large, bright yellow bloom that looks like a daisy. The stems this year are growing to waist height and the flowers cover entire hillsides and vast areas of the valley floor in the southern section of the park. These flowers are easily enjoyed from the car.
 
Patient sightseers who get out of their cars can see many more species. More than 20 species of wildflower bloom in the park at various elevations.
 
Some of the more common other flowers include the deep purple phacelia, the desert five-spot (a delicate pink flower with five burgundy spots around its center), the gravel ghost (a delicate white flower that appears to be floating above the ground like a ghost because its stem is so thin it's almost invisible) and various types of desert primrose.
 
Right now, the best flower show is at the south end of Death Valley National Park along Badwater Road. It is south of Furnace Creek.
 
As the temperature rises, those flowers will fade. The bloom will move north and to higher elevations.
 
The National Park Service updates information on the best spots to see flowers throughout the bloom. For updates, visit www.dvnha.org or www.nps.gov/deva.
 
The show won't last forever. Most of the flowers will wither in the next few weeks as temperatures start to heat up.
 
Some flowers may still be around as late as June at higher elevations. But those won't be as easy to see from a car and could require hiking.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
What makes Death Valley’s flowers special?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (43)
  • Steve0620-yyca
    3/10/2016 - 09:20 p.m.

    Death Valley is the hottest and driest place in North America. There are many flowers that are growing on Death Valley which is very rare. People are calling it the "super bloom." There are many different types of flowers that are growing like the desert gold flower, the deep purple phacelia, the desert five-spot flower, the gravel ghost flower, and the desert primrose. There was an unusual amount of rainfall in the Death Valley during the first few weeks of October. The Death Valley's flowers are so special because a lot of flowers don't grow on Death Valley and if they do, they die or wither quickly because of the intense heat. That is what will happen to the flowers that are blooming now.

  • katier-lam
    3/11/2016 - 10:45 a.m.

    I think that the "super bloom' is very interesting and that it only happens once every ten or so years. I think that since its the driest place and hottest place every recorded, I think that people are fascinated by the vibrant colors that come once every ten years.

  • morganm-pla
    3/14/2016 - 10:05 p.m.

    This article explains how every decade or so a rare layer of flower covers the lowest elevation in America, at 282 feet below sea level. The article states how this location receives two or less inches of rain each year, but this year it received well over 3 inches in some spots. This then caused flowers to bloom covering the space as if it was done by a paintbrush.

    This relates to Civic Engagement because this allows many to be able to see the amazing site that typically does not occur. But when it does or has the opportunity too show the bright colors of multiple different flowers that normally are not there for people to see and enjoy.

  • derrickh-but
    3/21/2016 - 01:25 p.m.

    The flowers of Death Valley are special for very many reasons. One of the main reasons though is because they grow only every ten years. This is special because most places grow flowers every year, but because the little amount of rain the flowers don't grow very often. Another reason that the flowers are special is because Death Valley is the hottest place in the United States, even recording a temperature of 134 degrees in 1913! Also the flowers are very pretty and attract many tourists to the area. Some flowers are a golden color, where as others are a pink color with burgundy spots in the middle. These many reasons make the flowers of Death Valley very special.

  • emilyf1-but
    3/21/2016 - 01:25 p.m.

    Some of the things that makes Death Valley's flowers so special is that this type of flower only occurs every ten years, if the flower sprouted every year nobody would even care to see the flower, but because this flower is so rare all the people want to be able to see it when it grows again. Another thing that makes this flower so special is the climate in the place that the flower is located, this place does not seem like it would even get enough rain to make a flower grow, but it only gets two inches of rain if they even get any at all and this flower can still survive in this type of climate. Also it states that the hotter it is, the more the flowers will fade and to me that can make a flower pretty neat to see.

  • jeradb-but
    3/21/2016 - 01:25 p.m.

    The reason i think that the death valleys flowers are so special is because they only get seen about once every decade from a lack of rain fall. The average rainfall there is about 2 inches to none some years but it got 3 inches of rain which was enough to let the seeds grow. Also the flower types variate a lot due to the elevation change and climate they can be different heights or colors.

  • zacharyc-but
    3/21/2016 - 01:25 p.m.

    The blooming of these flowers only occurs every ten years so it is very uncommon for these flowers to bloom every year like normal flowers. Plus these flowers found in Death Valley, a place which is nothing more than a barren waste land of sand, sun and more sand, it is hard to believe that a plant especially a flower could grow in such harsh conditions.

  • kyleez-but
    3/21/2016 - 01:25 p.m.

    Death Valley is the hottest and driest places in North America. Making plant life a difficult process. Death Valley also doesn't typically get enough rain a year to help flowers bloom, so the massive amount of flowers that occur during the "Super Bloom" is an amazing sight which won't happen for approximately another ten years. With twenty different wildflower species at different elevations, Death Valley's flowers are a special sight to see.

  • shianneb-but
    3/21/2016 - 01:25 p.m.

    The Death Valley flowers are special because they grow in a region where the average annual rainfall falls between 2 inches a year to even no rain at all. Another thing that makes these flowers so unique is that they actually grow in one of the hottest and driest places in North America, on July 10, 1913 the temperature was recorded at 134 degrees. To me the most interesting thing about these flowers is that as the temperature rises the flowers will fade and move north into higher elevation. The conditions that these plants boom in is very unusual which is what makes them so fascinating.

  • emmat-but
    3/21/2016 - 01:26 p.m.

    The flowers in Death Valley are special because, they only bloom every 10 years. Another thing that makes the death flowers special is that the temperatures in Death Valley are very high it even has a recorded breaking temperature of 134 degrees. Also,this area doesn't get much rainfall it averages at 2 inches each year. Some years they don't get any. This is why Death valley is so special because of the harsh conditions that the flowers are blooming in.

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