The flora and fauna of Death Valley

The hip reason to visit Death Valley these days is to see the desert wildflowers bloom in the spring. It was part of our motivation to drive 9 hours each way at end of March. I think we may have been a little late for the major bloom—that or I just wasn’t blown away by the ubiquitous yellow flowers growing alongside the road.

I kind of wonder if the wildflowers are more impressive to people who’ve visited Death Valley in the extreme heat of summer (perhaps when they were younger and less inspired by nature) and have more recently come to rediscover the awesomeness of the place. In any event, it wasn’t until we hiked up to the Keane Wonder Mine that we started to see some flowers here and there, as well as some neat bugs and a lizard. So I thought I’d dedicate a single post to some of the flora and fauna we saw over the course of our weekend.

Dead bush in Golden Canyon
One of many dead (or just dry?) bushes
A living bush in Death Valley
A living bush! (actually there were many)
Pineapple cactus
Pineapple cactus (or maybe a cottontop?)
Pineapple cactus
Pineapple cactus up close
Pineapple cactus
Another pineapple cactus
A purple mat flower
A purple mat
Desert five-spot
A desert five-spot
Prickly pear cactus
Prickly pear cactus (probably a beavertail)
Prickly pear cactus
Blooming prickly pear cactus from above
Prickly pear cactus flower
Prickly pear cactus flower
A well-camouflaged and rather big lizard (caught by Stephanie)
Red and black bug
Mottled red and black bug
Black and red bug, drinking water
A black and red bug drinking some drips of water


Erm, yeh, that’s right, DON’T go to Death Valley; there’s NOTHING THERE TO SEE.

Where did you find the pineapple cactus? We didn’t see any of those on our trip to Death Valley.

Wildflower photography at Death Valley National Park.

brthomas, we ran into a number of those along the Keane Wonder Spring trail.


I believe this is a Beavertail cactus, not prickly pear. Beavertail don’t have spines like most cactus; there is nothing prickly on this cactus.


This might sound nuts, but I’ve been wondering what that last black and red bug is for years now. I was on a bus one day and looked down to see one of them crawling up my arm. It was HUGE, and it scared me to death, and I never saw one again. This is the first time I’ve ever seen a photo of one. Do you know the species name?


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