In Bloom: A West Coast Wildflower Guide

Where to find the best super blooms in southern California…

A wet winter in LA can only mean one thing. Whoa, scratch that. Not just one thing, it means a lot of really amazing things for nature, like the incredible effect rain had on the drought. For the past 5+ years, California has endured such a severe dry spell that crops began to wither, produce prices rose, lakes dried up, and local residents traded in their lawns for cacti and rocks. But this year, California has received more precipitation than normal and the results are magnificent. Not only are some drought effects reversing, but wildflowers start to blossom on the hills around southern California during the middle of March and into early April, creating a carpet of color. It’s a quick and finicky window, but it’s a beautiful one.

There has been a lot of talk (some people are saying this is the best super bloom in a decade) about the wildflower crop, so I packed up my film camera and hit the road this week to find out for myself. For the last few years, our dry winters only yielded patches of sporadic color. This year had to be different. Check out what I found below. 

Poppy Reserve at Antelope Valley — The window for the poppy bloom is happening right now! If you’re currently in southern California, get there as soon as you can before it starts to get too hot and the poppies are gone until — fingers crossed — next year. If you don’t want to go into the Reserve itself, there are many hills surrounding the park that are littered in orange. Explore the dirt roads to find the gold.

Lake Elsinore — Lake Elsinore is en route to Anza-Borrego (if you are coming from LA), and the hillside is covered in orange poppies. Just punch Lake Elsinore into your geo tags on Instagram and you will soon be flooded with little orange beauties.

Anza-Borrego National Park –– When I traveled to Anza-Borrego six days ago, the bloom was just beginning. Small buds carpeted the desert floor — speckles of purple, yellow, and white were only starting their bloom, but the gorgeous mountainous background and blue sky backdrop made the trip worth it. The scent of flowers here is incredible, as if you entered an orb of subtle perfume. Hot tip: I just heard that the bloom is in full swing now — flowers are taller, brighter and larger.

Death Valley National Park — Tall yellow flowers with long green stems sway back and forth in the warm desert air in Death Valley, creating a sea of yellow.  Get there soon, as temps are increasing and the wildflowers are going quick.

+ Where do you like to travel to celebrate the coming of spring?

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Comments

  1. I’m from Temecula, and the traffic in LakeElsinore is hilarious right now-usually no one goes there. but the poppies are so lovely, its worth braving the swarm of cars.

  2. That’s one of the things I love about living in a desert- the wildflowers and the plants. They’re so interesting and breathtakingly beautiful that it makes me think how amazing it is that the earth can produce such amazing things. I’ve been to Death Valley a couple of times and the wildflowers make it worth it.

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