California wildflowers benefit from rounds of atmospheric river rains but won't reach superbloom status

In early April, Death Valley National Park has areas with a high concentration of blooming flowers. A superbloom requires just the right weather conditions throughout the whole year, including well-spaced rainfall throughout all seasons.

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, Ca. Springtime blooms are sprouting in California, turning normally dry deserts into colorful landscapes, but this year's flowers won't reach superbloom status.

Death Valley National Park's spring bloom can be a boon or bust. Since February, rounds of atmospheric rivers have been dropping record rain in the desert, combined with the leftovers from Hurricane Hilary last August. The park has been unusually wet, even allowing guests to kayak in the temporary Lake Manly from all the rain. 

Death Valley has areas with a high concentration of blooming flowers in early April. According to the National Park Service (NPS), the best places to see wildflowers are near the east entrance on Dantes View Road and Panamint Valley on the park's west side. There are more flowers along Stateline Road between Death Valley Junction and Pahrump.

However, according to the NPS, this year’s blooms don’t meet the "superbloom" criteria. The last superbloom in Death Valley happened in 2016. A superbloom happens about once a decade in Death Valley. 

A superbloom requires just the right weather conditions throughout the whole year, including well-spaced rainfall throughout all seasons and a lack of drying winds. Harsh desert winds can quickly end the spring bloom or even prevent delicate sprouts from producing flowers.


The deluge of rain and then lack of moisture on and off since last fall could be why this year's blooms didn't have all the right ingredients for a superbloom. 

It's still early in the wildflower season. Death Valley experiences three bloom windows, with the last ending in mid-July.

Death Valley isn’t the only place in California experiencing more blooms this year, thanks to the rain.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in the Mojave Desert has not reached the superbloom status it did last year, but visitors are enjoying bright yellow blooms throughout the park. 

According to the park, the poppies it's known for have not bloomed yet, and the window for "an impressive show" is becoming increasingly narrow. 

The fields are still full of colorful favorites, including goldfields and grape soda lupine. 

Wildflowers bloom in Penn Valley at South Yuba River State Park until May. The park continues to host wildflower walks through Mother's Day weekend. 

However, a Feb. 20th landslide closed part of Buttermilk Bend Trail, blocking some from hoping to see the beautiful wildflower blooms. California Park Service officials said the landslide severed access to the wheelchair-accessible part of the trail. 

Landslides and mudslides have become common in California, where 51 atmospheric river events have occurred from October 2023 to March of this year.