Category

Desert

Photos of Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers

California, Desert, Wildflowers

I got out for a quick look at some wildflowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park on Sunday morning. I got out there at 6am just as the sun was rising, and by 8am the light had grown so harsh I put my camera away and just hiked around. The bloom is definitely on and will be going for a few weeks I think. My guess is that it will be good but not great, at least not surpassing the bloom of a few (was it three?) springs ago, but at least it is better than the poor showings we had the last two years. One thing I noticed was a huge abundance of desert lilies. In one area I hiked, I had a hard time finding a place to step without smashing small desert lilies, they were everywhere. The cluster shown here, composed of white dune evening primrose and purple sand verbena, is literally inches from Henderson Canyon Road.

Dune primrose (white) and sand verbena (purple) bloom in spring in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, mixing in a rich display of desert color.  Anza Borrego Desert State Park, Oenothera deltoides, Abronia villosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Dune primrose (white) and sand verbena (purple) bloom in spring in Anza Borrego Desert State Park, mixing in a rich display of desert color. Anza Borrego Desert State Park.
Image ID: 20466
Species: Dune Evening Primrose, Sand Verbena, Oenothera deltoides, Abronia villosa
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Photo of the Borrego Badlands from Fonts Point

California, Desert

From Font’s Point in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, one can look across the Borrego Badlands (Carrizo Badlands), once an ancient lake but now a corrugated, tortured, barren wasteland (e.g., Mordor).

Carrizo Badlands viewed from Fonts Point, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Carrizo Badlands viewed from Fonts Point.
Image ID: 05530
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Carrizo Badlands viewed from Fonts Point, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Carrizo Badlands viewed from Fonts Point.
Image ID: 05533
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Font’s Point photos, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park photos, Borrego Badlands photos, Carrizo Badlands.

Photo of 17 Palms Oasis

California, Desert

17 Palms Oasis is located in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, several miles down the lunar-looking Arroyo Salado wash. The drive along Arroyo Salado is fun and relatively simple, although a four-wheel drive car is recommended. Seventeen Palms Oasis, consisting of (not surprisingly) 17 palms, appears out of nowhere as you drive down the wash and is a curious finding in the middle of such a barren landscape. It exists because of a shallow, subsurface supply of fresh water.

Seventeen Palms Oasis, Borrego Badlands, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Seventeen Palms Oasis, Borrego Badlands.
Image ID: 05538
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Seventeen Palms Oasis, Borrego Badlands, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Seventeen Palms Oasis, Borrego Badlands.
Image ID: 05539
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

17 Palms Oasis photos, Seventeen Palms Oasis photos, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park photos.

Photo of Devil’s Golf Course, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

The Devil’s Golf Course is a curious assemblage of crystalline salt shapes spread over a large swath of the Death Valley salt pan. This saltpan, which is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, and indeed the western hemisphere, holds a small amount of subsurface moisture. This water is extremely salty and briny, a result of the accumulation of minerals that were left behind when the 30-foot-deep Holocene-era lake disappeared (the accumulation continues with each year’s winter rains). Capillary action draws the subsurface moisture upward. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind salt crystals that form myriad fantastic shapes. The growth is quite slow, perhaps as little as one inch every 35 years. Wind friction and seasonal flooding of the area during winter storms erodes or reshapes the salt crystal forms, and the process continues.

Devils Golf Course, California.  Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course, California. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 15582
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Devils Golf Course, California.  Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course, California. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 15596
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Devils Golf Course, California.  Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world.  The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt

Devils Golf Course, California. Evaporated salt has formed into gnarled, complex crystalline shapes in on the salt pan of Death Valley National Park, one of the largest salt pans in the world. The shapes are constantly evolving as occasional floods submerge the salt concretions before receding and depositing more salt.
Image ID: 15613
Location: Devils Golf Course, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Zabriskie Point in Death Valley offers a great view from the Funeral Mountains, across curious gullies of sedimentary rock and packed mud that comprise the badlands below Zabriskie Point, to the floor of salt-pan floor of Death Valley and the Panamint Range in the distance. It is especially striking at sunrise, so much so that photographers have made it a must-take photo during their first visit to Death Valley. Manly Beacon rises in the midst of the panorama, its striped contours testament to the tilted layers of sediment of which it is formed.

Rainbow and clearing storm clouds, sunrise light on Manly Beacon, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California

Rainbow and clearing storm clouds, sunrise light on Manly Beacon, Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California.
Image ID: 27660
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Full moon over Zabriskie Point landscape, Death Valley National Park, California

Full moon over Zabriskie Point landscape
Image ID: 28676
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Venus sets over Manley Beacon and the Panamint Mountains, viewed from Zabriskie Point, landscape lit by a full moon, evening, stars, Death Valley National Park, California

Venus sets over Manley Beacon and the Panamint Mountains, viewed from Zabriskie Point, landscape lit by a full moon, evening, stars
Image ID: 28677
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Zabriskie Point, sunrise.  Manly Beacon rises in the center of an eroded, curiously banded area of sedimentary rock, with the Panamint Mountains visible in the distance, Death Valley National Park, California

Zabriskie Point, sunrise. Manly Beacon rises in the center of an eroded, curiously banded area of sedimentary rock, with the Panamint Mountains visible in the distance.
Image ID: 15585
Location: Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Zabriskie Point photos

Sand Dunes, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Death Valley National Park‘s most accessible sand dunes are just a few miles down the road from Stovepipe Wells, in the center of Death Valley. 14 acres of sand dunes, rising several hundred feet high in places, lie about a quarter mile from the road. While there is no official trail from the roadside parking area to the dunes, you cannot miss them. Just set out on foot from your car in the direction of the dunes that look most interesting and walk for a while. Gradually the brush and vegetation gives way to pure sand and you are there. It is easy to find your own space out here, away from others, among the valleys that lie between the dunes. Sunrise and sunset are the times to walk among the dunes, it gets too hot during midday. Night finds noctural animals roaming the dunes, such as the kangaroo rat and sidewinder. The morning visitor will see cool animal tracks on the dunes, tracks that gradually disappear as the sands shift in the days breezes. If I took my kids to these dunes I would bring a boogie board or big cardboard boxes to let them slides down the steep sides of the biggest dunes.

Tiny hikers atop Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, California.  Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall

Tiny hikers atop Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, California. Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall.
Image ID: 15577
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Mesquite Dunes sunrise, dawn, clouds and morning sky, sand dunes, Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California

Mesquite Dunes sunrise, dawn, clouds and morning sky, sand dunes.
Image ID: 28689
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Eureka Dunes.  The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California's tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States.  Rising 680' above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as "singing sand" that makes strange sounds when it shifts.  Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors

Eureka Dunes. The Eureka Valley Sand Dunes are California’s tallest sand dunes, and one of the tallest in the United States. Rising 680′ above the floor of the Eureka Valley, the Eureka sand dunes are home to several endangered species, as well as “singing sand” that makes strange sounds when it shifts. Located in the remote northern portion of Death Valley National Park, the Eureka Dunes see very few visitors.
Image ID: 25250
Location: Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Sand Dunes, California.  Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall, Death Valley National Park

Sand Dunes, California. Near Stovepipe Wells lies a region of sand dunes, some of them hundreds of feet tall.
Image ID: 15576
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Ripples in sand dunes at sunset, California.  Winds reshape the dunes each day.  Early morning walks among the dunes can yield a look at sidewinder and kangaroo rats tracks the nocturnal desert animals leave behind, Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park

Ripples in sand dunes at sunset, California. Winds reshape the dunes each day. Early morning walks among the dunes can yield a look at sidewinder and kangaroo rats tracks the nocturnal desert animals leave behind.
Image ID: 15607
Location: Stovepipe Wells, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Badwater, Death Valley National Park

California, Death Valley, Desert, National Parks

Badwater is the lowest point in Death Valley National Park, at 282 feet below sea level. Indeed, it is the lowest point in the entire western hemisphere. The Badwater Basin is the catch point for 9000 square miles of drainage, however, there is typically little water here except following winter rains, since the water evaporates quickly. When it does, it leaves behind a saline, crusty, flat white playa made up of almost pure table salt and stretching for miles — a bizarre place. Evaporation is most extreme in Death Valley: a 1.9 inch annual rainfall is exceeded by evaporation potential of 150 inches per year, enough to scorch a 12 foot deep lake to dust in just 12 months. The water that does manage to persist here is the motivation for the place’s name, for it is a salty, warm, nasty swill which you are advised not to drink. A small, specialized species of fish, the Death Valley pupfish, somehow manages to eke out an existence in these waters. Rising above the parking area are some of the oldest rocks in Death Valley, 1.7 billion (with a b) year old Precambrian volcanic and sedimentary rock layers that have metamorphosed into gneiss. Perched 282 feet up the cliff face is a sign marking sea level. If you visit, be sure to walk out onto the playa, not just a hundred yards or so but far enough that the other visitors and their cars become specks. Admire the sheer white horizon stretching in all directions, the Panamint Mountain and Black Mountain ranges the form the walls of the valley, and the blue sky. Hear the silence as your feet crackle and crunch the salt upon which you walk. Feel the air wick the sweat off your skin. Feel your throat become dry. Squint. Nice. Now back to the car and air conditioning.

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15579
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15580
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Badwater, California.  Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America.  9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats, Death Valley National Park

Badwater, California. Badwater, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in North America. 9000 square miles of watershed drain into the Badwater basin, to dry and form huge white salt flats.
Image ID: 15595
Location: Badwater, Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Self portrait on salt pan, Death Valley National Park, California

Self portrait on salt pan.
Image ID: 15621
Location: Death Valley National Park, California, USA

Photo of Desert Bighorn Sheep

California, Desert, Wildlife

The Desert Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) found in southwestern California, is a subspecies of the North American desert bighorn sheep that occupies the rocky and arid Mojave and Senoran deserts of the American southwest and northern Mexico.

Desert bighorn sheep, male ram.  The desert bighorn sheep occupies dry, rocky mountain ranges in the Mojave and Sonoran desert regions of California, Nevada and Mexico.  The desert bighorn sheep is highly endangered in the United States, having a population of only about 4000 individuals, and is under survival pressure due to habitat loss, disease, over-hunting, competition with livestock, and human encroachment, Ovis canadensis nelsoni

Desert bighorn sheep, male ram. The desert bighorn sheep occupies dry, rocky mountain ranges in the Mojave and Sonoran desert regions of California, Nevada and Mexico. The desert bighorn sheep is highly endangered in the United States, having a population of only about 4000 individuals, and is under survival pressure due to habitat loss, disease, over-hunting, competition with livestock, and human encroachment.
Image ID: 14651
Species: Desert bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis nelsoni

Desert bighorn sheep, male ram.  The desert bighorn sheep occupies dry, rocky mountain ranges in the Mojave and Sonoran desert regions of California, Nevada and Mexico.  The desert bighorn sheep is highly endangered in the United States, having a population of only about 4000 individuals, and is under survival pressure due to habitat loss, disease, over-hunting, competition with livestock, and human encroachment, Ovis canadensis nelsoni

Desert bighorn sheep, male ram. The desert bighorn sheep occupies dry, rocky mountain ranges in the Mojave and Sonoran desert regions of California, Nevada and Mexico. The desert bighorn sheep is highly endangered in the United States, having a population of only about 4000 individuals, and is under survival pressure due to habitat loss, disease, over-hunting, competition with livestock, and human encroachment.
Image ID: 14653
Species: Desert bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis nelsoni

The desert bighorn sheep prefers steep, rocky mountainsides that afford them a view with which to view approaching predators, for their eyesight is excellent. They are hardy animals that can survive without water during the winter, provided there is green vegetation to be found. Male desert bighorn sheep (rams) have huge spiraling horns, used to batter other rams during courtship and mating contests over access to females (ewes).

More desert bighorn sheep photos

Red Barrel Cactus Photos, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Cactus, California, Desert, Wildflowers

Thanks to John Dougherty for kindly helping us to correctly identify a number of flowering plants from recent visits to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. One of our favorite subjects was the Red Barrel Cactus (Ferocactus cylindraceus) which were just beginning to show their blooms.

Barrel cactus, brittlebush and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, brittlebush and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10899
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10906
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10905
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Barrel cactus, brittlebush, ocotillo and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Barrel cactus, brittlebush, ocotillo and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10919
Species: Red barrel cactus, Ferocactus cylindraceus, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

Keywords: barrel cactus photo, flowering cactus, cacti, red barrel cactus, ferocactus, desert Anza-Borrego desert state park.

Canyon Sunrise, Anza Borrego Desert State Park

California, Desert, Wildflowers

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is currently experiencing an epic, once-in-a-lifetime bloom of desert wildflowers, bushes and cacti. The sand verbena and desert primrose flowers that had covered the valley floor so spectacularly in places in February seem to be receding or largely gone, replaced with poppies and lupine. However, the principal attraction now is a profusion of brittlebush filling the canyons and coloring the hillsides on the east side of the valley with yellow. The slopes along the Montezuma Grade leading down to Borrego Springs from the west are bright with brittlebush, so that they appear entirely yellow and green from afar. The density of brittlebush continues down toward the valley and into the canyons, washes and alluvial fans. Barrel and cholla cactus and ocotillo are just now beginning to bloom, so desert color in Anza Borrego should continue to improve for at least a few more weeks. There are many small assorted flowers still, along with caterpillers (munching the flowers) and butterflies. The following is a blended exposure shot at sunrise, composed of three images blended to account for the extreme range of light that neither film nor digital sensor can adequately capture in a single exposure:

Brittlebush, ocotillo and various cacti and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon.  Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California

Brittlebush, ocotillo and various cacti and wildflowers color the sides of Glorietta Canyon. Heavy winter rains led to a historic springtime bloom in 2005, carpeting the entire desert in vegetation and color for months.
Image ID: 10895
Species: Brittlebush, Encelia farinosa, Fouquieria splendens
Location: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Anza Borrego, California, USA

See all the photos from this shoot.

Keywords: Anza Borrego Desert State Park, photo, photographs, wildflower.