The Death Valley Superbloom Trip

9 Days in southern California, mostly in Death Valley National Park

The focus of this trip was the wildflower superboom in Death Valley. The superbloom is a once-in-a-decade event, caused by heavy rains in the months leading up to late Winter and early Spring in Death Valley and the rest of the Mojave Desert. Out of nine days, I spent six of them in Death Valley, enjoying the wildflowers, sightseeing, and hiking various trails. The trip begins and ends in Los Angeles, and includes a few other areas like Mojave National Preserve and Joshua Tree National Park -- plus a hike up to the Hollywood sign.

Day 1

Arriving in LA, and a little exploring

On Day 1, I arrived at SNA - John Wayne Airport in the Santa Ana/Anaheim area of Los Angeles. I spent the rest of the day fighting traffic and figuring out my way around -- but I did manage to pay a visit to the Griffith Observatory in the hills above Hollywood.

Day 2

More in LA, then the drive into the desert.

I started this day with a hike up to the Hollywood Sign. Then, I left town, headed for Lone Pine (just outside Death Valley). Along the way, I caught the sunset at Trona Pinnacles.

Day 3

Into Death Valley

I started this day in the Alabama Hills, but the weather was disappointing. On the plus side, I managed to get two free breakfasts from my hotel in Lone Pine (and yes, they did have all-you-can-eat bacon). I spent the rest of the day in gloomy weather, driving into Death Valley, hiking to Darwin Falls, and driving up to Aguereberry Point. At times, it snowed. The day ended in Beatty, Nevada - my base of operations for the next five nights.

Day 4

A 4-wheel-driving Adventure

Much of this day focused on driving the excellent Titus Canyon Road. It's a 4-wheel-drive-only dirt road that leads into the park from the Nevada side. The day also included a nice hike up a canyon to a dry waterfall, and a nice sunset.

Day 5

Another dirt road adventure

Once again, I set out onto a difficult 4-wheel-drive dirt road. This time, I headed over to the Racetrack - a playa where a strange phenomenon causes rocks to slide around, leaving dirt trails behind them. It's a long drive out there and back, so it took up most of the day.

Day 6

Some great Death Valley hiking and driving

I started this day with a big hike: the Golden Canyon/Gower Gulch Loop along Badwater Road. Once that was done, I was more than happy to be seated in my air conditioned car for a while. I drove the West Side Road to the southern end of the park, then took Badwater Road north, ending at Artist's Drive for a nice sunset.

Day 7

A couple of great hikes, and then a storm

The weather wasn't great on Day 7, but I still had a good time hiking up the sand dunes at Mesquite Flats. Then, I discovered a little-known trail into Desolation Canyon, which quickly became one of my favorite hikes of the trip. I ended the day at Zabriskie Point, with a quick hike on the Badlands Loop as storm clouds rolled in.

Day 8

Leaving Death Valley, and on to Mojave National Preserve

I re-visited a couple of attractions in Death Valley on my way out of the park. Then, I drove south, visiting the World's Tallest Thermometer in Baker, followed by the Lava Tubes and sand dunes in Mojave National Preserve. The day ended in Barstow, which set me up nicely for the final day of exploring.

Day 9

Mojave Trails National Monument and Joshua Tree National Park

This was the last day of the trip, but I was determined to make it count. I drove part of Old Route 66, visiting Bagdad Cafe and Roy's Motel and Cafe, then headed to Joshua Tree National Park for the rest of the day. After sunset, I headed back to Los Angeles to complete the trip.