Wildflower Season May Bring Beautiful Blooms––and Crowds––to State Parks

Imagine seeing fields of white, purple, red, orange and yellow bright colors in landscapes that are normally brown. Because California received significant amounts of rain this past fall and winter seasons, public lands might experience a spectacular floral display this spring. This unpredictable, rare occurrence may attract thousands of people to the outdoors. To ensure safety and conservation, the department asks visitors to please respect the iconic landscapes and be knowledgeable of the area, weather and their body limitations.

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © 2019, California State Parks

Although wildflower blooms will adorn many areas in California, some of the most striking blooms take place in desert landscapes. The desert becomes a sea of wildflowers. Often short-lived, these rare blooms occur when precipitation levels in the desert areas are high, combined with years-long drought, which eliminates grasses and weeds that take up nutrients. These conditions cause wildflowers to thrive.

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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park © 2019, California State Parks

In 2017, colorful arrays of super blooms carpeted Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area. It is impossible to predict exactly where, when and if wildflowers will bloom this year. Should the state experience significant blooms, California State Parks wants its visitors to be prepared. A list of state parks with wildflower bloom information and updates, park rules and tips is available online at www.parks.ca.gov/WildflowerBloom.

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Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area © 2019, California State Parks

Below are just a handful of tips and park rules to make viewing the wildflower blooms more enjoyable:

  • Cell coverage can be spotty or nonexistent in some parks – be prepared.
  • Read about your state park destination online and download a map prior to your visit, especially if you are visiting a desert. Many GPS and map apps will take you to dirt roads requiring 4-wheel drive vehicles.
  • Check weather conditions. Be prepared and plan for all types of weather.
  • Bring plenty of food and water. There are often no restaurants, gasoline stations or stores near the bloom areas.
  • Visit the parks during the week and arrive early to beat the crowds.
  • Outdoor conditions can change quickly, especially in the desert. Bring sunscreen, a hat, layers of clothing and closed-toed shoes to avoid injury.
  • When viewing the blooms, take only pictures. Flower picking is prohibited.
  • Leave an itinerary of your trip with a family member or friend with information such as time of departure and expected return, site visit location, and names of everyone in your group. This will ensure law enforcement personnel have a better understanding of your location in the event of a rescue.


California State Parks encourages the public to explore all of the recreational activities available at the parks, such as wildlife viewing, hiking, camping, biking and interpretive programs for adults and children. For specific park information on these activities, wildflower blooms, maps and road conditions, please visit www.parks.ca.gov/WildflowerBloom.

NIKON CORPORATION NIKON D810 Camera1/15 @ f16  ISO 64   Manual  -0.3 32mm lens
Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area © 2019, California State Parks

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