Desert Wildflowers. Death Valley National Park, California. March 29, 2016. © Copyright 2016 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.
A carpet of desert spring flowers, Death Valley National Park
My alternative title for this photograph might have been “What’s Underfoot.” We were a bit too later for this year’s (near?) superbloom in parts of southern Death Valley National Park, but we still found plenty of flowers during out late March visit. Many desert plants are opportunistic, holding off on their blooms in dry years and then going exuberantly wild in wetter years. This wasn’t one of the truly wet seasons, though it was wetter than the recent drought years might have suggested, and in many places the flowers responded.
I made this photograph in one of those Death Valley locations that might seem both very special and not at all special, depending on your orientation to the place. We drove out on a long road that traverses a high valley. By comparison to, say, the high peaks of the Sierra, the terrain seems unremarkable, with vast stretches of undifferentiated desert vegetation leading to dry and rocky ridges. But the vast space is special, in and of itself, and there turns out to be more to look at and experience than might first be apparent. I knew from previous visits that thick wildflowers were a possibility, and I knew that if we just pulled off the road and looked that we would find them. At one of these stops I simply took my camera and walked off a bit and found a dense carpet of plants and flowers, taking full advantage of this brief period of sunlight and a bit of moisture.
G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist. His book, “California’s Fall Color: A Photographer’s Guide to Autumn in the Sierra” is available from Heyday Books and Amazon.
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