Flora / Fauna, Death Valley National Park
Although the name Death Valley brings up images of a totally bare place, and part of the park frequently looks that way, there is a variety of life in the park. You may see Kangaroo Rats, large lizards called Chuckwallas and other animals in addition to the snakes, spiders and scorpions. There are also several plants that survive here including Mesquite Trees, Arrowweeds, Desert Holly, and Joshua Trees.
Address: P.O. Box 579, Death Valley, California 92328
Phone: (760) 786-3200
It was a wonderful year for desert blooms because of all the wonderful rainfall we had. Death Valley or for that matter most of California hasn't seen this many wildflowers in a very long time. We had beautiful blooms everywhere! Death Valley hadn't seen this many blooms for almost twenty years. So we ventured out one day since it was still cool in May 2005. I was glad we did, because we couldn't had asked for the most beautiful weather!
Directions: Highway 178 & 190
Devil's Cornfield is located close to the Stovepipe Wells' Sand Dunes area along Route 190. It's a field covered with isolated clumps of the arrowweed plant separated by stretches of empty sand. They resemble shocks of corn in a harvest field, hence the name of the place. The saline soil of the Death Valley floor creates a harsh environment, but even here you can find plants or rather salt loving plants like the arrowweed which thrive in this place.
Address: Route 190 east of Stovepipe Wells' Sand Dunes
Salk Creek Death Valley is the only place in the world where the Salk Creek Pupfish live. Some 20.000 years ago when Death Valley was a big fresh water lake there were probably many species of fish that lived here but today only the pupfish remain. The pupfish managed to adapt to the harsh environment related to life in the desert. For example the pupfish is well adapted to high salinity, they can survive in water 2 to 3 times saltier than sea water. You can see the pupfish by walking the 1/2 miles boardwalk which passes through the salk creek. The creek almost dries up in the summer and only a few pools of water remain. Only those fish in deeper pools survive. There were quite a few pupfish visible when we visited, in mid February.
On our way down toward Las Vegas we found KOLO TV's reporters out making a TV journal about the flowers this year. What a job. Get to drive around and film this stuff for free.
This television crew seemed to have come out of Hollywood. I heard the reporter talking about being 200 miles from Hollywood in a sea of flowers.
Anyone from the LA area recognize this reporter? He was standing out in the flowers having fun. Didn't interview me though. Oh well... I guess I don't get my 15 minutes of fame in Hollywood.
All the yellow flowers are called Desert Gold. They were bringing in massove tourist dollars for Death Valley National Park in 2005... a good thing, the park was partially destroyed by the same rains that caused these flowers to blossom this spring. The road was being worked on in March 2005 when I was there.
This image of flowers on the edge of the salt flats with snow-capped peaks across the valley was completed digitally (once I got home). But, I did see several artists sitting out in the flowers painting. I haven't tried to paint myself for many years.
This tree is probably the most recognizable plant at a distance. Early Mormon settlers named the tree for its outstretched branches, which reminded them of the biblical Joshua praying.
Directions: Joshua tree can be spotted on Hwy 178 near Walker Pass; along Hwy 395 about 35 miles south of Lone Pine; and on the Death Valley backroad out of Big Pine.
Meet the little creatures that live in this world. Amazing how they can survive in this heat. The sand is so hot, that is was burning my feet.