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Spring is right around the corner, and you know what that means—the hills come alive with California wildflowers.
6 min read
February 11, 2021
Spring is right around the corner, and you know what that means—the hills are alive with California wildflowers. Vivid yellows, intense oranges, and fiery reds brighten the expansive fields of the Golden State, transforming the landscape into a paradisiacal oasis. The diversity of the climate helps in creating a breathtaking bouquet of vehemently concentrated super blooms in California. The results? Remarkable.
Whether you’re going on a Bay Area hike or exploring the top San Diego trails, these colorful California native wildflowers make every trip worthwhile. Some are even so magnificent that people hike for hours just to get a glimpse of their beauty. Feast your eyes on these beautiful displays of kaleidoscopic wildflowers that’ll illuminate your day.
Does the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve even need an introduction? The stunning state-protected reserve is home to the most consistent blooms of eye-popping California poppies, the Golden State’s official flower. The best time to visit is during the intense blooming season, which falls between late winter and spring—mid-February through mid-May.
While this naturally occurring California poppy reserve is the most persistent poppy-bearing land in the state, it doesn’t necessarily mean that other wildflowers don’t grow here. Owl’s clover, lupine, cream cups, coreopsis, and goldfield can also be spotted here. The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is certainly a one-of-a-kind state park that satisfies every interest, so you won’t want to miss it.
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The most impressive Southern California wildflowers are located in Chino Hills State Park. Like Antelope Valley, this state park is also recognized for its striking poppy fields that are best viewed in March—even though the poppy flowering season is from February to September. The orange and golden poppies are accompanied by purple California wildflowers that create a harmony of colors in the lush fields.
Whenever you spot other California wildflowers, they’re most likely to be violet owl clovers, silver lupines, or bush sunflowers. Not every state park can stir up emotions with its sheer beauty, but Chino Hills is one of the rare ones that’ll elevate your spirit and bring tranquility to your mind.
The most sensational displays of wildflowers in San Diego County are found in a desert. While Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is regarded as one of the best places to go stargazing and is known for its weird desert art attractions, the state park is just as impressive when it comes to California wildflowers. Anza-Borrego transforms into a colorful desert state park in spring and early summer—when wildflowers, cacti, and bushes come into bloom.
Hike the Cactus Loop, Hellhole Canyon, and Borrego Palm Canyon Trails to feast your eyes on floral displays of desert marigolds, Biglow’s monkeyflowers, lupines, desert dandelions, and phacelias. You may even catch a glimpse of desert apricots and sand verbena. No matter which California wildflowers you encounter, one thing’s for sure—this state park will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on you.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is home to the most remarkable concentrations of California coastal wildflowers. The reserve is decorated with wild heliotropes, popcorn flowers, yellow sea dahlias, and the San Diego jewelflower. Here, you’ll come across the coastal version of the famous California poppy, too. Torrey Pines is also abundant with the rarest pine in North America—the Torrey pine—which is where it gets its name.
So, there’s always something catching your attention with every step you take at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. You’ll find yourself stopping often to examine and appreciate the beauty of California coastal wildflowers. Whenever you have the chance, don’t think twice—head over to the coastal state park and soak in the natural wonders of Torrey Pines.
If you’re still wondering where to see wildflowers in California, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve is the answer. The “crown jewel” of California’s 280 state parks is not only home to the best scuba diving destinations in the Golden State, but it’s also where you’ll find the most breathtaking displays of brilliant wildflowers.
Towering redwoods, old-growth oaks, and carpets of vibrant Northern California wildflowers blanket one of the most underrated state parks: Mount Tamalpais. Offering some of the best mountain hikes in the Bay Area, this state park has plenty of trails that take you to the most beautiful concentrations of wildflowers.
Blue-eyed grasses, fairy bells, warrior’s plumes, and checkerblooms are only a few of the many Bay Area wildflowers you’ll come across at Mount Tamalpais. And of course, the iconic California poppy appears every now and then, standing out from every other floret. The best time to visit is in May—you get a full view of all the colors in bloom.
Over 400 species of California wildflowers start blooming at Mount Diablo State Park in February, resulting in the best photo ops in the Bay Area. It doesn’t matter which trail you’re hiking—Mitchell Canyon Trail, Waterfalls of Mount Diablo Loop, or Mary Bowerman Interpretive Trail—because each provides a fantastic way to view Bay Area wildflowers.
You’ll come across Bermuda buttercups, California barberries, checker lilies, and yellow oxalis (some of the most beautiful yellow California wildflowers). Bush anemones, butterfly tulips, chaparral peas, crimson clovers, and arroyo lupine are also found here. Luckily, you don’t need to download a California wildflower identification app for this state park—the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association has a comprehensive guide to help you identify which flower is which.
The 6,580-acre Sunol Regional Wilderness has no shortage of California wildflowers—you can hike for hours in multiple spots and end up seeing several different varieties. The park has more than 30 trails that lead you to countless wildflower-carpeted spots. Native perennials in the regional park include seaside heliotrope, California buckeye, Western Virgin’s bower, and cow parsnip. For yellow and red varieties, keep an eye out for native annuals like Lindley’s blazing star, common fiddleneck, rattlesnake weed, California lotus, and mountain garland.
The blue and purple California wildflowers at Sunol Regional Wilderness are the most impressive. Concentrations of royal larkspurs, dove lupines, Persian speedwells, and blue fiesta flowers take your breath away. Head over to the park in springtime to soak in the magnificent hues of the multicolored wildflowers.
Each spring, stunning displays of Northern California wildflowers—over 500 distinct species—are created at Edgewood County Park and Natural Preserve. Rare and endangered species like the San Mateo thornmint and white-rayed pentachaeta have been identified in the county park. Wildflower enthusiasts come here to enjoy free nature walks with the Friends of Edgewood and learn about the varieties that grow here.
Blow wives, California cudweeds, and soap plants are the common white wildflowers found in the county park. When you spot purple California wildflowers, they’re most likely warrior’s plumes, giant trilliums, coyote mints, or purple sanicles. You may not see the California poppy super bloom, but the iconic flowers come into view every few steps to make sure they’re still the center of attention.
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