After heavy and sustained rainfall in 2005, Death Valley, California -- normally one of the hottest, driest places on earth -- springs to life with 75 species of wildflowers.
Death Valley Comes to Life With Flowers, Color
ANN CURRY, anchor:
At Death Valley National Park, something remarkable is happening. Recent rains are turning a monochromatic park into a virtual rainbow of nature. NBC's Mark Mullen takes us there.
MARK MULLEN reporting:
Death Valley has sprung to live, and this California couple wanted their 11-month-old daughter to see it.
Ms. STEPHANIE HAGER (Tourist): Every hillside covered with yellow and green and purple and--I mean, it's amazing.
MULLEN: Millions of blossoming flowers, 75 species, numbers never before seen in this desert wasteland.
Death Valley is a place of extremes. During summer, it is one of the hottest places on Earth. Elevation-wise, it is one of the lowest places in the Western Hemisphere, 282 feet below sea level. And on typical years, it's the driest place in North America with less than two inches of rain. That's on a typical year.
Ms. ADELE SMITH: What came together this year to make this happen?
Unidentified Tourist #1: Rain.
Unidentified Tourist #2: Rain.
Ms. SMITH: Rain. OK. Well...
MULLEN: Desert specialist Adele Smith explains to visitors the months of sustained rains that caused problems for some parts of California also brought life to flower seeds dormant on the desert floor for years.
Ms. SMITH: It's like a giant party, and the flowers are--are the ones hosting us.
MULLEN: In fact, thousands are now converging the park. Brenda Mont from from Michigan.
Ms. BRENDA MONT: Oh, they're awesome. Totally awesome.
MULLEN: Jerry Brothers from Las Vegas.
Mr. JERRY BROTHERS: It's been an absolutely spectacular symphony of colors.
MULLEN: And try getting a room at this park hotel, which is now sold out.
Ms. TONI JEPSON (Manager, Furnace Creek Inn): This may not happen for another 100 years so they want to get here.
MULLEN: What's the hurry? Most of these flowers are destined to die within two weeks, when the heat and insects return.
Mr. KIRK VON MEETEREN (Tourist): It's one of those things where once in a lifetime, so you got to see it.
MULLEN: People coming to witness a brief but spectacular triumph of nature over the desert. For TODAY, Mark Mullen, NBC News, Death Valley National Park.
BORREGO SPRINGS, Calif. — Rain-fed wildflowers have been sprouting from California's desert sands after lying dormant for years — producing a spectacular display that has drawn record crowds and traffic jams to tiny towns like Borrego Springs.
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