Death Valley National Park is famous for its spectacular spring wildflower displays. While the intensity of the bloom varies greatly from year to year, flowers are never totally absent. This year, wildflowers are generally sparse along popular scenic routes, but intrepid photographers like Michael Hardridge are finding desert sand verbena blooming at Ibex Dunes, a remote area that requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle and good route finding skills. For exceptional wildflowers this year, head to other southern California parks like Joshua Tree and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Sunset photo taken on March 4 courtesy of Michael Hardridge.
Singing sand avalanche, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado.
Have you ever heard sand sing? Listen to 15 seconds of this bizarre phenomenon! Just as our own voices are made by air moving through vibrating vocal chords, a humming sound is made at Great Sand Dunes as air is pushed through millions of tumbling sand grains during an avalanche. Avalanches occur naturally during storms, but can also be created by people pushing sand down a dune face. In the 1940s, one of Bing Crosby’s musical hits was “The Singing Sands of Alamosa” - a love song based on the sounds of Great Sand Dunes. This humming sound continues to inspire people today!
Fall brings dramatic color to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Dense colonies of aspens grow in moist soil, sharing a root system and changing their leaves in unison. Like a river of gold, these gorgeous trees fill Morris Gulch, high in the mountains above the sand dunes. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.
With snow already accumulating on the Sangre de Cristo mountains, fall is coming to an end at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The cottonwoods along Medano Creek are losing their golden leaves and frost greets the morning. Soon, the tan dunes will put on their blanket of winter white. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.
This picture of Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado is a perfect combination of stone, sand, snow and light. The Sangre de Cristo (“Blood of Christ”) Mountains were named by early explorers for the crimson light that often appears on them at sunrise or sunset. The red color is especially vivid when the mountains and dunes are covered with snow. Photo by Patrick Myers, National Park Service.