Great Places to See Southern California in Bloom this Spring

Photo courtesy: Anza-Borrego State Park

Photo courtesy:
Anza-Borrego State Park

Courtesy of the State of California


This spring bloom promises to be one of the best in years. After weeks of drinking in fresh rainwater, California’s sunny landscapes are beginning to burst with colorful wildflowers.

Here are just six of the many places in California that will inspire you to get outdoors and smell the roses – not to mention the poppies, daffodils, tulips and more.

  1. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

The Antelope Valley is the ultimate place to spot the state flower, the California Poppy, in the wild. Located just 75 miles north of Los Angeles, this state-protected reserve boasts a carpet of bright orange blooms each spring, as well as owl’s clover, lupine, goldfields, cream cups and coreopsis. Visitors can typically enjoy the visual bounty from mid- February through late May along eight miles of trails overlooking rolling hills. Trail benches make great vantage points to spot other wildlife, such as singing meadowlarks, lizards zipping across the trail, gophers and maybe even a coyote.

  1. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Some of Mother Nature’s most spectacular floral shows in the West take place each spring at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park – California’s largest state park, encompassing over 600,000 acres in San Diego’s East County. Following winter rains, the dry and rugged landscape is magically transformed into a kaleidoscope of wildflowers, from tiny bursts of color no larger than the head of a pin to towering ocotillos with fiery spines of scarlet blossoms. The displays promise to be especially vibrant sometime during March and April after Southern California’s recent winter rains. Visitors will also enjoy seeing the multitude of butterflies that are drawn to this spectacular floral pageant. Guests can call the Park’s 24-hour “Wildflower Hotline” for updates.

  1. Channel Islands National Park

This isolated national park off the coast of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties is known as the “Galapagos Islands of North America,” featuring unique animals, plants and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth. The islands are home to an astonishing 775 species of plants, many of which blanket the fields with colors each spring. To help visitors make sense of the abundant blooms, the park publishes flower guide each year. One of the most popular, the brilliant yellow coreopsis flowers, usually peak between late January through March and are best seen on Santa Barbara, Anacapa and San Miguel Islands. Sometimes the colors are so vivid they can be seen from the shore! San Miguel also boasts lupine and poppies, while Anacapa features vibrant red paintbrush and island morning glory. Santa Barbara Island, home to a colony of elephant seals, also blossoms with lavender chicory and pale yellow cream cups. While taking in Mother Nature’s rainbow of flowers in the spring, park visitors can also enjoy spotting western gulls and other seabirds begin nesting on the islands, as well as newborn California sea lions and northern fur seals.

  1. Death Valley National Park

If you’re visiting Southern California soon, don’t miss a rare and epic “super bloom” of abundant wildflowers at Death Valley National Park. Only under perfect conditions do wildflowers paint the desert with hues of gold, purple, pink and white. Thanks to heavy rains this fall and early winter, the park’s stark and arid landscapes are giving birth to Desert Gold, Golden Evening Primrose, Gravel Ghost, Bigelow Monkeyflower and Desert Five-Spot along the lower elevations and foothills, and are likely to hang around until late March or early April.

  1. Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area

Nothing says “spring” like a field of wild sunflowers, and one of the best places to enjoy them and other fantastic flower displays is Figueroa Mountain in Santa Barbara County. Late March brings forth early blooming specimens such as purple shooting stars. Later arrivals on the mountain include chocolate lilies and the scarlet Indian paintbrush. The open grassland areas support a profusion of species, including goldfields, sky lupine, California poppies and more.

  1. Laguna Coast Wilderness Park

After the winter rains, flowers spring up in this beautiful coastal park in Orange County. The park features 40 miles of trails that wind through oak and sycamore woodlands and lead hikers up and down hills and canyons – some of which offer great views of the Pacific Ocean. At each elevation, visitors have the opportunity to view different varieties of native plants and flowers such as wild hyacinth, morning glories, popcorn flowers and southern sun cups. Coastal sage scrub provides a year-round home for the endangered California gnatcatcher.