By Allie Wisniewski, American Forests
Death Valley, Calif.: America’s driest national park and one of the hottest places in the world at the peak of summer. In fact, it was at Death Valley’s Furnace Creek that the highest air temperature in history (134° Fahrenheit) was recorded in 1913. With these kinds of credentials, I don’t blame you for wondering who or what could possibly live in such an extreme environment. The name itself brings to mind a vision of grim and desolate wilderness.
The National Park Service is keen to correct this misconception, stating, “Despite its reputation as a lifeless wasteland, Death Valley National Park contains a great diversity of plants.” Lower elevations boast a vast variety of vegetation including desert holly, mesquite and creosote bush, while higher points are covered in blackbrush, Joshua tree, pinyon-juniper, limber pine and bristlecone pine, to name a few. Of course, an assortment of cacti and succulents flourish in the area, including the grizzly bear pricklypear, California barrel cactus, Mojave mound cactus and pickleweed. Even wildflowers like the indigo bush and the golden evening-primrose bloom in the desert sun, adding splashes of color to the often washed-out landscape.