Part 1 of 5
Hearing there was a grand display of flowers around Nelson, just south of Las Vegas and Boulder City, caused me to take a half day off work to take these photos. (Thanks for the intelligence, Susan!)
Why the precipitate action? Because a week earlier I had found a magnificent hillside near Laughlin, even further south. I took some pictures (see Part 3 of this flowery series of pages), and a short week later when I had visitors and ran back down there to see, there was only a brown hillside. Some flowers do their job in a hurry in the desert, it seems.
The plan for these pages is this:
1. Near Nelson, Nevada.
2. South of Hoover Dam (Boulder Dam) in Arizona.
3. Near Laughlin, Nevada.
4. Between Searchlight, Nevada and Nipton, California.
5. In Death Valley, California.
NELSON and the ELDORADO MINE are located in a valley, a canyon actually, that feeds into Lake Mojave (the Colorado River below Lake Mead. It has a few residences and a few inhabitants, and the now abandoned mine works are a tourist attraction, with guided tours of the works and explanations of the technology available.
The road to Nelson takes off from US Highway 95 to Laughlin about 5 or so miles south of that highway's split from US 93 which crosses the dam and enters Arizona.
The first three pictures were taken near the crest of the rise, looking past some Yucca flowers back towards Las Vegas,
and then seeing some other flowers looking in roughly the same direction. The yellow flowers I believe to be either 'slender bladderpod' or 'suncup,' and the white flowers looked like 'desert pincushion' to me. But I am trying to judge using a guide with pictures that are not very definitive. Also in the photo below, the white structures in the right background are businesses on US 95 between Boulder City (to the right) and just before that highway takes its right turn, northward into the Las Vegas valley (to the left),
But that is enough looking back. Let's get back to the crest and its load of flowers, more Yuccas with some 'yellow saucers' (a desert dandelion) hiding in their shadow:
With the Yuccas there were also some smaller blooms, yellow, white and an orangy shade. We will take a closer look at these now, very near the crest, and the flowers are the same ones seen before except with the addition of the orangy 'apricot mallow,' a plant I used to misname regularly until I saw its picture quite unmistakably displayed in my flower guide:
But it is time now to get a move on and go down the canyon: the town of Nelson is visible in the next photo:
Entering the town, some 'showy penstemon,' a Sonoran desert plant, were standing beside the road as if in greeting:
In the same location there were quite a few little white flowers, probably the same 'desert pincushions' seen on the previous pictures.
But passing through the town farther down the canyon brought us to two places where flowers were running riot: the basin where the Eldorado mine was located, and the small side canyons on the way to the Colorado River.
First some views from right around the old mine works and buildings (but focusing on the flowers of course, and noting that the purplish cactus flowers in these pages are all 'beavertail cacti').
What immediately grabs attention, once you have seen the dramatic rock setting of this little basin, is the ubiquitous 'teddy bear cholla' and beavertail' cacti:
An occasional 'staghorn cholla' also shows up,
but the teddy bear chollas dominate:
Now, at first glance it would seem logical that the yellow flowers here are the same as those seen before, but in fact they are a mixture of flowers, as will be seen in the next two pictures:
In the mix here are dense stands of 'desert sunflowers:'
And the fact that these yellow flowers are not standing on leafless stalks leads me again to suspect a 'bladderpod' variety for the yellow flowers below.
And look at this pretty thing with the round leaves, it is a 'suncup,' a member of the 'evening primrose' family.
In the next photo there is also some blue, obviously from a 'lupine' type of plant, perhaps the 'Mojave' lupine:
And to add to the delightful confusion of color, a white 'desert dandelion.' A beautiful flower:
But, it is time to get a move on, out of this flower bowl and down a bit closer to the Colorado River:
We drove down until we saw this sight, through a flowering 'creosote' bush. The blue of the Colorado River is visible in the creosote branches on the left. This far down the hill, the flowers in the side canyons were thinning considerably,
So we turned around, back up the hill,
and visited one of those bright yellow side canyons. We are looking through some purplish-blue flowers for which I could not find any match in my guidebook, but a kind friend suggested it was a 'notch-leaved phaecelias' (thanks, Alice and Steve). Through it we are looking at a hillside covered with 'teddy bear cholla' and the bright yellow of flowering 'brittlebush:'
And after all that colorfulness was absorbed and recorded, we went home!
A day well spent.
But of course there were other days, other locations, and other flowers, as you can see by visiting the other pages in this series.
GO to second Flower page
GO to third Flower page
GO to fourth Flower page
GO to fifth Flower page