Officials in Death Valley National Park are predicting a bumper wildflower season this spring following record rainfall in the California park. Torrential downpours throughout the state at the end of January, plus higher than average accumulation throughout the year, has locals readying for a colorful show of spring blooms. "Because of the rain last week, everyone who lives and works here in Death Valley is optimistic that we will at least have a better-than-average show this year," says Phil Dickinson, sales and marketing director at Death Valley's historic Furnace Creek Resort.
Early-blooming species like desert gold, poppies, and evening primrose typically start flowering in mid-February in lower-elevation sites like Furnace Creek. Higher elevations start to see blooms of species such as mariposa lilies, lupine, and indigenous Panamint daisies through late March and mid-April. The National Park Service (NPS) recommends Jubilee Pass, off Highway 190 near Furnace Creek Inn, and the base of Daylight Pass as the best viewing spots.
The NPS is reporting that in 2010 alone the park has received 2.86 inches of rain in the northerly Scotty's Castle section of the park and 1.55 inches in the Furnace Creek area. This compares to average total rainfall of 1.9 inches annually in the 3.3-million-acre park. Yet while the recent hard rains will likely herald an impressive show, a lack of consistent rainfall throughout the autumn and winter months indicates that this year's display won't quite hit the heights of other prime wildflower years.
Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower 48, located within driving distance of Las Vegas (120 miles) and Los Angeles (230 miles). Furnace Creek Inn is one of four lodging facilities in Death Valley National Park, and is by far the most luxurious lodge in the park. It's open from mid-October through mid-May, while its sister property, the Ranch at Furnace Creek, is open year-round. Check the "Wildflower Watch" link on the Furnace Creek Resort website for the latest bloom updates. To see a photo gallery of Death Valley's desert wildflowers on Away.com, click here.
For more colorful spring-travel inspiration, read Away.com's countdown of the country's Top 10 Wildflower-Viewing Spots.
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