Wild flowers in Joshua Tree and Death Valley NP
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jan 14, 2013 12:52 PM Last Post By: hermosajoe
Jan 13, 2013 3:46 AM
Wild flowers in Joshua Tree and Death Valley NPHi there
I arrive in LA on 18th Feb and my goal while in the US is to do as many national parks as I can. I know I am a bit early in the season but wanted to avoid public holidays and lots of people...also the temperatures in the two above mentioned parks. I plan on either start driving south-west towards Joshua Tree NP, making it my first NP to be visited and follow that by a trek in the Gran Canyon and a stop at the Death Valley NP..And this would then happen around last week Feb/1st week March...OR....drive north east first and do Highway 1, San Francisco, Sonoma, Big Sur, Red Wood, Yosemite, King's Canyon first AND then drive down south to do the other parks...I'd love to get to see the blooms in either Joshua Tree OR/AND Death Valley BUT I'd also like to get to do more things in Yosemite and so was told to do that last as it'd be already the end of March?? It'd be cool to visit the wine regions in a good time so end March would probably be best than late Feb??
As you can read, it is more about timing my trip to coincide with nature than anything else and I'd like suggestions/ recommendations, please.
Also, read on the NP websites that wild flower display depend on amount of rain that fell in previous months...Any experienced campers in California can help me with an informed opinion about best times this year for wild flower displays in the two parks mentioned before???
Thanks to all!
Jan 13, 2013 5:34 AM
1There has been lots of snow in the mountains of California this season, including Yosemite NP and King's Canyon. Even the mountains around Los Angeles are covered with snow and Interstate-5, the Grapevine, was shut down due to ice this week. I visited Death Valley during my college Spring Break, which is March/April, and the flowers were blooming then.
A friend of mine just returned from 3 weeks visiting all of the missions in California, and he and his wife did camp in their camper truck. It would be quite cold to plan to camp in a tent in February, unless you are accustomed to snow camping excursions and have a very warm sleepingbag.
In order to allow time for the flowers to bloom, I would recommend driving from Los Angeles north along the Pacific Coast to San Francisco. If it becomes too foggy, you could take one of the inland highways, such as Highway #101. There are campgrounds in the redwoods in Big Sur and near Santa Cruz. There is a campground north of Santa Barbara in Goleta (I have not been there for a while, so you need to check that for sure.) In Los Angeles and San Francisco, plan to stay in one of the hostels that have been mentioned in other postings -- you need to make reservations. North of San Francisco along Highway #1, there is a state campground at Bodega Bay and another state campground just south of the village of Mendocino, where people go abalone diving.
After visiting Mendocino, you may drive through the Alexander Valley southeast down to Highway #116 at Guerneville, along the Russian River. There are campgrounds in the redwood forest along the Russian River. February/March is too soon to see the apple blossoms on the Gravenstein apple orchards in Sebastopol. You will see some renowned vineyards. Switch over to Highway #12; drive east through Santa Rosa and onward past more renowned vineyards to the town of Sonoma. I don't remember seeing any campgrounds in this area. Continuing east on Highway #12, you will cross into Napa County and pass more renowned vineyards. Highway #12 will merge with Interstate-80, which will take you to Sacramento and Interstate-5. Take Highway #99 south to Merced, then turn east into Yosemite National Park. The exit on the east side of Yosemite NP is closed due to heavy snows until June. After Yosemite, retrace your route west back to Highway #99 south to Fresno, then drive east to Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon. (I don't know how early in the season the roads are plowed into Sequoia NP -- I was there during the winter when the roads were closed and we were almost stranded by a snowfall.) Sequoia NP is not open year-round.
After Sequoia NP, then drive south on Highway #99 to Bakersfield, then turn east on Highway #58 toward Mojave and Highway #395 north, or continue east through Barstow, then onto Interstate-40 east to Flagstaff and the vicinity of the Grand Canyon. Returning, you may take the turnoff north to Las Vegas, then one of the routes through Death Valley, then west to Highway #395 south.
You have not stated whether you will be flying home from Los Angeles?
Switch over to Highway #12, to drive east through Santa Rosa, Sonoma County,
Jan 13, 2013 7:35 AM
2trekker 502, THANK YOU! :) Northwards it is! My flight back leaves from LA on 26th March...I do so hope that the snow and the cold won't put a stop to my plans....I booked this early thinking about avoiding the hordes of tourists but I understand that I was quite dumb.....Having said it, I have camped in the cold before and have good camping gear for snow camping so that is a relief!
Anyway, you were a star!!! I am SOOO happy Thorn Tree is back! :)
Jan 13, 2013 8:04 AM
Wineries in these areas, especially the ones south of SF, are likely to be less crowded and not to have the hefty tasting fees that the Napa ones do.
In March-April, many of vineyards may look like this. The yellow flowers are wild mustard.
When to see wildflowers in Death Valley. Mid-Febraury to mid-April at lower elevations.
You can use this web site to track how things are looking in both DV and Joshua Tree.
Jan 13, 2013 8:25 AM
4You can also check the Wildflower Hotline (available by phone as well) for weekly reports. This will also give you information about blooms in state and county parks, and good highways to travel in search of wildflowers. Look at reports from earlier years to get an idea of your options.
Jan 13, 2013 9:43 AM
5OMG, don't you LOVE Thorn Tree??? I was sooo worried it'd disappear for good......big sigh of relief!! Loved the website for checking the wild flowers!!!! And the hotline!!!
As for wineries that are quieter, nutraxfornerves, any specific name suggestions for someone like me who loves Merlot? :)
Again, folks, a million thanks!!
Jan 14, 2013 12:52 PM
6If you can I would move the trip up 30 days. Late March thru April will be your best bet for wild flowers and the weather should be sooo much better. It should be an excellent spring in the desert with the rain this winter. Your not going to be around hordes of tourist's during this time. Either way yes head north first and end the trip in the S. desert.
You might want to check out Anza-Borregoa St. Park just outside Palm Springs, great wild flower area with better/free camping than Joshua IMO.
Joshua can be very difficult to find camping as it is a rock jock area, very beautiful but packed all year.
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