Last week I wrapped up my annual Death Valley workshop. Even though this workshop mostly deals with night photography, we do still get out for a bit during the daylight. This year we were lucky enough to have the workshop fall on the tail end of one of the largest super blooms in a century at Death Valley. Despite being one of the driest places on the planet, when rains come through at the right time in the late winter it can trigger dormant wildflower seeds to start to germinate. Regardless of the year, you can almost always find a random wildflower on the valley floor during spring. This year the whole floor was carpeted with blooms.
Whether the park is carpeted in flowers or not, Death Valley is still one of my favorite national parks. I have been traveling there for 7 years now in the spring and still have seen less than half of this vast expanse. The area was mostly used for mining of borax and silver (although there was more spent on silver mining than made here). Once the mining boom started to fizzle out around 1915 companies were pulling out or going bust by staying. Pacific Coast Borax turned it’s crew headquarters into the luxury hotel, now known as The Furnace Creek Inn, which started the tourism boom to this desolate area. In 1933 President Herbert Hoover pronounced almost 2 million acres as a National Monument. It wasn’t until Halloween 1994 that another 1.3 million acres was added and the area was designated a National Park.
No matter how many times I have been, there is always something to explore or photograph at Death Valley. There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to return and explore this amazing landscape. I think I’ll keep my visits to the spring and summer though to avoid those 120f degree temperatures!