Desert Wildflowers Outlook

A dry winter can lead to fewer petals out in our arid regions.

DRY DAYS, FEWER FLOWERS: It's a florid fact that can surprise even those who've called California home for years: Our deserts can pop with petals come February and March. There are big, showy springs, following damp winters, like the one in 2005, which saw hotel rooms sold out for weeks on end in and around Death Valley National Park. And there are typical springs, where beautiful pink and yellow buds pop out here and there with welcome regularity.

AND THEN... there is the dry stretch that follows a drier-than-normal winter. Welcome to the spring of 2014, which'll arrive on the heels of one of the toastiest Januarys in memory, at least for a good chunk of the state. This doesn't necessarily bode well for blankets of photo-worthy buds showing up in our deserts, but the show does go on, and surprises do happen. Desert USA, as well as our national and state parks, are keeping tabs on the winter-into-spring blooms, which can shoot up fast and bid farewell just as speedily. Eager to see one of the prettiest and most unusual sights in the driest parts of the Golden State? Then keep a watch...

ON THE DESERT SCENE: Desert USA reported that "some wildflowers are being spotted in the Culp Valley area" of the Anza-Borrego on Tuesday, Jan. 21. And in Joshua Tree National Park? "Some creosote bushes have started to bloom" read a report given on Jan. 21. It's not nearly high wildflower season yet, so don't let the recent dry days dissuade you; you could plan a weekend out among the ocotillo and canyons in March, and if you see flowers, well, then, so much the better. And the next free days in the National Parks? They're well-timed for petal seekers planning to head to Joshua Tree: Feb. 15-17. That's President's Day Weekend, a period when pretty colors typically make a showing around the stark and stunning landscape.

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