Posted on 14 Mar
California’s wet winter may have put a damper on our morning commutes for a bit, but the heavy rains made way for some of the most striking wildflower displays in more than a decade, and nature lovers everywhere are flocking to the deserts and coasts of The Golden State to take in the sights. From the mountains and valleys of Joshua Tree to the oceanfront bluffs of Point Reyes, here are four of our favorite places in California to see this year’s super bloom.
There’s a reason the poppy is California’s official state flower. The delicate gold bud rears its head almost anywhere the sun shines, but perhaps nowhere is there a more radiant display than Antelope Valley California Poppy State Reserve. Located just west of Lancaster, the reserve features eight miles of trails and draws thousands of wildflower—and Instagram—enthusiasts each year eager to catch a glimpse of the electric orange canopy. The wildflower viewing season typically lasts from mid-February through May, with a variety of blooms springing throughout the season.
The jagged cliffs and and driftwood-strewn shores of Montaña de Oro State Park are worthy of a visit any time of year, but spring’s wildflowers bring an added draw. In fact, the park gets its name (Mountains of Gold) from the swaths of golden wildflowers—California poppies, wild radish, sticky monkey flowers, and mustard—that blanket its trails each spring. Our tip? Spend the afternoon exploring the trails above the ocean, then head down to Spooner’s Cove for a picnic and seashell hunt before the sun sets.
With its comfortably warm days and mild nights, spring is one of the best times of year to set up camp in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s also prime wildflower viewing season, and the otherwise monochromatic desert landscape really comes to life, with dozens of native plants and cacti booming through May. From the bright magenta blossoms of beavertail cacti to the park’s namesake Joshua trees—which bloom with beautiful white flowers each year—there’s no better time to plan a desert getaway.
Flower lovers from up and down the coast flock to Point Reyes National Seashore each year to see its dazzling display of poppies, tidy tips, owl’s clover, checkerbloom, paintbrush, and footsteps-of-spring. From its coastal bluffs to its pine tree forests, there is plenty of terrain to explore, but the standout viewing spot is the 1.4 mile Chimney Rock Trail, where blankets of wildflowers decorate the bluffs above the Pacific.