We were told that the best place to see wildflowers was on the drive out to Badwater, and the trip did not disappoint.
It was a warm day with temperatures in the high 80's, but there was a breeze that kept things comfortable. Just FYI, there was a sign that listed some average temperatures in the park.
It's not a place one wants to visit in the heat of summer, although there are those who actually run ultramarathons here in July. Don't look for me to be signing up.
There were a couple of signs that explain the area and talk about the heat.
Bad water is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.
This seemed like a great place for some selfie action. I've marked behind us where the sign indicates sea level.
In the other direction is Telescope Peak, which is the highest peak in Death Valley.
There is only just a little bit of water at Badwater. It isn't poisonous, but very salty.
In our many visits to Death Valley, we've seen the Badwater Pool before. It always looks just the same: no larger, no smaller.
Signs request that visitors stay off the fragile salt deposits, but it is possible to walk out into the valley quite a distance.
The rugged salt crust stretches on for miles, nearly covering the valley floor.
Here's a panorama of the area. Remember that you can make the image larger by clicking on it.
As we walked back, I noticed the green shoots covering the hillside.
We started heading back the other direction, and pulled off the road where I was able to get some more pictures of the flowers.
According to a video podcast published by the National Park Service, it appears we are in the middle of a rare "super bloom". Many thanks to my friend Lisa for sharing this short video with me. If you can't see the video, click right here. It's worth a watch.
We started planning this trip to Death Valley back in June of 2015, and we had no way to anticipate what the weather between then and now would bring. I mention this because it is completely by happy accident that we find ourselves here at this time to witness this rare event.
It will continue probably through the end of March, and a month from now, it may look completely different as new flowers make an appearance. From yesterday, these were some of the ones we saw. This first one was different from those I'd seen in the campground. I wasn't able to identify it from my wildflower book. Maybe one of you knows what it is. If you look carefully, you might notice that there are also some buds of a yellow flower that has not yet opened.
I saw them when we took a short hike a little farther down the road. This is known as yellow peppergrass.
Growing in the greatest abundance are the Desert Sunflowers.
I believe these are the brown-eyed primrose, but it's hard to say for sure.
These were identified in my post from yesterday, and I believe they are the Notch-leaf Phacelia.
This was another one that was new to me. I believe it to be the Gravel Ghost, but don't bet on it.
Finally, there was this little button of a flower, and this is the Mojave Pincushion.
After that, we took the Artist's Drive to the Artist's Palette Hike, which is just a short hike through a wash. The landscape here is unbelievable. The colors don't even look real.
This sign gives some idea of the chemical composition of the landscape and accounts for some of the colors.
So that was our day exploring Death Valley, and we were hungry by that time. Just across the road from the campground is a new little village just getting started by the indigenous people who were the original inhabitants of this area.
They were serving up "Indian Tacos", Indian fry bread (a personal favorite) and shaved ice. Mike had a taco, and I had my fry bread with honey. Yum. Such a treat.
I was having trouble sleeping, and so I'm up in the middle of the night editing my pictures and writing this blog post. I'm just about to go back to bed and try to get a little more sleep. In the morning we'll be packing up for the trip home. We're heading up the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas, which is a beautifully scenic drive. By day's end, we should be in Carson City, Nevada.