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2. Death Valley National Park, California

Wildflowers in the desert can be a gamble—it’s impossible to predict just when the season will begin or how many blooms will appear, as if by magic, from the rugged terrain. Mojave National Preserve and Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Parks all offer a surprising quantity and diversity of flowers—most of them pollinated with their own individually adapted bee species. Which of these parks will have a “good” year depends on the temperature, rains, and other factors. Death Valley is often a good bet because its low elevation results in blooms that begin opening earlier than they do in other California desert parks. Its carpets of flowers then gradually spread uphill into the higher elevations of the park, offering a particularly long flowering season, generally from February into August. When conditions are just right, roughly every five to ten years, the flowers bloom so profusely that the effect is simply staggering.

Photo © Kreulen/iStockphoto.

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Editor of Online Communications Jennifer Errick