Death Valley – What You Didn’t Expect

As I pointed out in my last post, Death Valley National Park does live up to most people’s expectations: a hot, dry desert with lots of sand and rocks. But if you read to the end, you discovered that I was going to tell you about the unexpected._DSC0993_signed_3mp

Last week, I showed you a photo of a beavertail cactus, taken at a distance. It looked lonely, surrounded by rocks. In fact, there are lots of these plants, and their blossoms are lovely. Moreover, they are covered with all description of pollinators. Look closely at this photo and you will see them.

Actually, there are lots of critters in the park. No lions or tigers or bears. But we did see plenty of evidence of desert bighorn sheep. And the park brochure lists a host of other animals. One of the most popular is the Salt Creek pupfish. Spring is mating season. I know, it looks more like they are just being friendly, but no….

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On our hike to Darwin Falls – yes, a waterfall in Death Valley – we watched lots of dragonflies. These were also, well….

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Ladybugs were in abundance, too:

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My favorite part of Death Valley was the flowers. There were thousands of them, enough to turn swaths of desert into patchworks of color. Here desert dandelions (mostly) and desert gold combine with smaller flowers to cover broad areas between the road and the hills:

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This is what the desert dandelions look like up close:

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Mojave asters added another hue:

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Gravel ghosts are delicate flowers atop a very thin stem. They are often hard to spot among the rocks:

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My favorite flower shot is this lonely bloom overhanging a swift stream in the Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge, which is administered by DVNP:

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One last photo today. If you have read anything about Death Valley, you have probably heard of Scotty’s Castle. Years ago, this was NOT a lonely place. There were miners and small towns and a railroad. The millionaire who built this retreat was actually swindled by Scotty, but he loved the area where his gold mine was supposed to be so much, he built his vacation home there.

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So, did you expect Death Valley to be like this?

 

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