Death Valley Pupfish: Spring Superstar

Venture to Salt Creek to spy these fin-rocking wonders.

IF YOU WERE TO SAY... to someone who wasn't fully up on desert-based critter knowledge that you were going to take a trip to spy some fish in Death Valley National Park, well, they just might tell you to "pull the other leg." After all, "hottest" and "driest" and "lowest" are oft-used terms when it comes to the magnificently arid expanse, and notions of water and water-based life don't spring to the forefront of the mind. But, of course, there is water in the desert, and it appears in all sorts of spectacular and even surreal ways. Death Valley is home to several such aqua-related spots and events, from the here-today-gone-tomorrow lakes that can form on the flats to the pupfish of Salt Creek. Ah yes, we're returning to the fish topic, because, well, the fact that fin-laden creatures call the famously dry destination home is about as cool as cool California things come. And springtime for the cute fishies? That's primo mating time, which means you might just spy some interesting activity. They're as...

"PLAYFUL AS PUPPIES..." reveals the official Facebook page for Death Valley National Park, which means that while they're quite wee, and you'll need to keep your peepers peeled, you might see some memorable darting and dashing about in the creek. It's a "shallow creek," so you won't have to gaze too deeply, and the pupfish? Look for some pretty hues, which makes the small creek dweller somewhat simple to find. Of course, while observing this desert denizen will fill a person with the correct sensation that nature is flush with amazing wonders, do keep a respectful distance: The pupfish is endangered, and we landlubbers want these creek-based beasties to go about their springtime mating dance unhindered. Peeking in to admire the splendor of this finful phenom, though, is a fun spring to-do in the park, in addition to looking for those famous wildflowers.

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