Death Valley, April 2005
We try and visit Death Valley every year. Due to the heavy rains there this last year, the wildflowers were supposed to be amazing. The "Bloom af a Lifetime" or so it was said. They were right!
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We started our trip with a couple of days in Panamint Valley, which is adjacent to Death Valley. Our goal was to hike to and climb the sand dunes there. We had been threatening to do this since our first visit here in 1992. We were successful this year. The dunes are several hundred feet high and a four mile walk from the end of the road. A beautiful and peaceful spot.
A nice surprise was the abundant groups of Silver Prickle Poppies that we found up on the dunes. This is a view from the foot of the dunes looking back down Panamint Valley. Our campsite is just this side of the "island" in the valley floor.
The flower bloom this year was indeed spectacular. It seemed that there were many different types of flowers everywhere. We drove for thirty miles along the floor of Death Valley and saw large fields of flowers the entire way. We saw many types flowers that we could not recall seeing before. This little beauty is a Desert Five-Spot.
Our friend Debbie had dome some research and suggested we go to the Wilrose section of the park and try to find the Panamint Daisy, one of the rarest flowers which is found only in a couple of canyons. We did find them, only in one area of about 100 yards along the road. This made us feel very lucky. They were large and beautiful indeed.
Badwater is the lowest point in the western hemisphere, almost 300 feet below sea level. The view is across the floor of Death Valley to Telescope Peak, which is over 11,000 feet above sea level. The salt flats in the foreground had been covered in water until a couple of days before our visit, forming a huge shallow lake in the bottom of the valley.
A bit north of Badwater, the west side road crosses Salt Creek and provides access to the canyons along the base of the Panamint mountains. It was a dark and stormy day as we drove across Salt Creek. The wind was blowing so hard that we could not open the doors on the driver's side of the vehicle!
We spent a night camping in Trail Canyon. Although the flower bloom was past its prime here there was still plenty of color.
Snowball fight in Death Valley?! We visited the Charcoal Kilns near Wildrose. They are up near 7000 feet in elevation, where there was still some snow on the ground, enough for a snowball fight and a snowman or two.