weather icon Partly Cloudy

Death Valley not likely to repeat last year’s bloom

The hopeful crowds might return to Death Valley this year, but the wildflowers probably won’t.

Experts say chances are fading for another epic bloom like the one that shattered visitation records in 2016.

The national park 50 miles west of Pahrump delivered the bad news in a Facebook post Wednesday.

“The results are in, and it’s not looking good,” the post read.

Late fall and early winter are pivotal times for flower germination, and Death Valley received far less rain in the past three months than it did over the same period in 2015.

As a result, “it’s unlikely that we’ll get another all-encompassing bloom like we saw last year,” said Linda Slater, the park’s chief of interpretation.

Record crowds turned out to experience that massive floral display, which transformed parts of the usually barren valley into a sea of yellow and green. Campgrounds were filled to capacity, and cars lined the park’s main roads in areas where the flowers were the thickest.

More than 209,000 people visited the park in March alone, eclipsing the previous single-month record of 178,000 set in April 1995.

When the Park Service releases its official stats in the coming weeks, 2016 will rank as the busiest year ever for Death Valley National Park. The record was already assured by the end of November when year-to-date visitation topped 1.25 million for the first time.

“We were swamped for months,” Slater said.

There is still some hope for this year’s bloom.

Jim Andre tracks desert flora as director of the Granite Mountains Desert Research Center in California.

He said significant amounts of soaking rain fell at the right time across parts of the Mojave Desert, but very little of that moisture made its way north of Interstate 15 and into Death Valley.

Right now, he predicts an average or below average year for wildflowers in the park, “but that could change” with some storm activity in the coming days.

What made last year’s bloom so unusual is that it came on the heels of a mostly dry winter in the region. Andre said most of the precipitation that triggered Death Valley’s explosion of color came from one localized storm cell that pummeled the park on Oct. 14, 2015, causing widespread flood damage.

This year’s wildflower show is likely to unfold farther to the south in places such as Mojave National Preserve, Joshua Tree National Park and California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Andre said.

“I think Joshua Tree is really going to go off this year, and that’s going to be the headline,” he said.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean@reviewjournal.com. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Development of Pahrump’s Kellogg Park tracking right along

Development of Pahrump’s newest park, Kellogg Park on the southern end of the valley, continues to move along steadily, with a variety of milestones reached in recent months and officials with the town of Pahrump and Nye County now setting their sights on the next steps of the development process.

PLAC to decide on Rough Hat recommendations; meeting Nov. 30 in Pahrump

Throughout its many years, the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee hasn’t seen a whole lot of community involvement, with the group historically hosting its monthly meetings amid almost empty audiences.

Together With Veterans hosting SWOT assessment meeting in Pahrump

The men and women who have served in the United States military have given of themselves, made sacrifices on a daily basis and put the safety of others before themselves in order to protect America but when service comes to an end and they return to civilian life, the transition can be jarring.

Beatty Advisory Board deals with trails, racing, blue light

There will be no informal election to choose appointees to the Beatty Town Advisory Board. Randy Reed and Erika Gerling, whose terms expire at the end of the year, were the only people to submit letters of interest, so the Board voted, at their Nov. 22 meeting, to forward their names to the Board of County Commissioners for reappointment.

Pahrump Powwow showcases Native American culture

November is National Native American Heritage Month and there could be no better time in which to celebrate the vibrant culture of the country’s many Native American tribes.

Nye County commissioners push back on COVID, again

Like an array of other issues and topics, COVID-19 has proven to be a subject which serves as yet another wedge between an already divided America and in many cases, it’s pitting local, state and federal governments against one another in a bid to decide what is best for the communities they serve.

Pahrump businesswoman facing embezzlement charge

It appears that the COVID-19 outbreak in a roundabout way has led to the arrest of a Pahrump woman on an alleged embezzlement charge.

Community Christmas Tree Lighting set for Saturday in Pahrump

With Thanksgiving taking place tomorrow and Christmas coming right on its heels just one month later, that means it is time for many to start turning their attention to the most wonderful time of the year. In the Pahrump Valley, the start of the Christmas season is one that is greeted with joyful delight but it wouldn’t feel quite complete without what has become a beloved local tradition, the lighting of the Community Christmas Tree.

Photos with Santa set for next two weekends in Pahrump

In a perfect world, the comfort and security of a warm, soft bed is something that all children would enjoy, but the unfortunate reality is that the world is not perfect.