Outbound Collective logo

You Need to Go to Death Valley for the Super Bloom

If you have not experienced a wildflower bloom in the desert you are missing out!

By: Michael Wigle + Save to a List

In Death Valley National Park wildflowers are so rare that they are actually called ephemerals because of how quickly they bloom and die. Witnessing a super bloom here is incredibly powerful.

Life begins and ends in the desert with water. This past winter has been one of the wettest on record which means that this wildflower season may be one of the largest in recent memory.

Winter is the best time of the year to trek into the deserts of the American Southwest.  When conditions are just right, these landscapes formed by ancient lakes and volcanoes transforms into an incredible show of life. Steady winter rainfall, cooler temperatures, and calm winds are needed to encourage dormant seeds to spring from the ground in abundance.

Death Valley National Park is the most extreme place to see this transformation because it is one of the world’s hottest regions. To experience snowcapped mountains above endless fields of rare flowers is a once-in-a-lifetime event. The vibrant scenes that appear in what is normally a desolate wasteland are shocking. Telescope Peak has received plenty of snow fall this season already.

The best time to go is early morning, when cooler temperatures and smaller crowds greet the serene surroundings in peace. If you plan on spending the night, register early, and register soon. Increasing daytime temperatures spark the end of this short-lived bloom. Bonus points if you can make it during the week, avoiding weekend traffic.

The Death Valley bloom of 2017 will not be as big as the super bloom of 2016. Some of the park’s more remote regions and higher elevations should see dramatic blooms later this month as the snowmelt soaks the dormant seeds. The Owen’s Valley on the Western edge of Death Valley should be exploding with color in a couple weeks.

If you cannot wait to see this rare event, head further south right now! From Joshua Tree National Park to the Anzo-Borrego Desert and along the Mexican border, they are experiencing their rare super bloom this year! California is the best place to be this year for winter wildflowers.

The bloom also provides an opportunity to see hundreds of hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, and bees pollinate these rare desert jewels. Plan a trip and spend a few days enjoying cooler desert hikes through lush fields of color.

Are you still reading? Get out there!

Forecasting these rare events is more accurate than ever. These flowers will only bloom for a few weeks before warm dry winds turn the petals into dust. A late winter adventure into the desert to find wildflowers is easy for almost anyone. Don’t let this moment pass you up!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

Do you love the outdoors?

Yep, us too. That's why we send you the best local adventures, stories, and expert advice, right to your inbox.


Weekend Road Trip Guide for Lone Pine and Death Valley

Michael Fricke

See the Best of Death Valley National Park in One Day

Leigh Maneri

Solo Roadtripping to Death Valley

Karin Victoria Peck

Runnin' on Empty on the Road to Death Valley

Michael LeValley

Top 5 Locations to Explore and Photograph Death Valley National Park

Greg Harlow