Death Valley National Park isn’t the sort of place people go to commune with the lush lifeblood of nature. The hottest environ in the world, and the lowest and driest in the United States, the valley’s red, barren, dusty terrain is marked only by the ragged mountains that frame it and serve as a barrier to lock in hot air.
Yet roughly once every decade all that changes for a short-lived explosion of flowery fireworks called a super bloom.
While there are flowers every year in Death Valley, it’s rare for conditions to be just right so that the legions of perfectly-preserved desert ephemeral flower seeds waiting below the sandy surface spring to life at the same time. This is being hailed by park rangers as potentially the greatest display since 2005.
The blooms tend to be greater in El Niño years, when precipitation is greater in the region. Last October, three inches of rain fell in just five hours in part of the park, one inch more than they usually get all year. The park’s blog has been charting the progress of the bloom, which they have been anticipating since January to be of epic proportions.
“If you get the chance to see a bloom in Death Valley, especially a super bloom, you should take the opportunity to see it because it could be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Park Ranger Alan Van Valkenburg, who narrates the above video about the phenomenon.
Many people are taking the trip to check out the colors, and of course that means they’re sharing images from the remote park via social media. We picked a few of our favorite Instagram images to show you what you’re missing.