After a year of severe drought, last fall California experienced a much-needed soaking which brings with it the opportunity to witness one of nature’s most spectacular displays of color and life: a superbloom. While experts weren’t expecting it to match the incredible 2019 superbloom, millions of wildflowers are covering the West Coast from Death Valley to Big Sur and beyond—and they’re officially visible from space.
These beautiful swathes of orange, yellow and purple have been captured by Maxar Technologies over Palmdale and Carrizo Plain National Monument in San Luis Obispo. Read on to find out the best places to see the superbloom near Los Angeles.
NOTE: A few key wildflower zones have been closed in anticipation of superbloom crowds. Find out more here.
What is a superbloom?
A super bloom or “superbloom” is a rare botanical occurrence where an unusually high proportion of flowers sprout all at once from dormant seeds within the earth. It only happens when the conditions are just right. In other words, it requires a high seed bank, just the perfect amount of rain, a dry stretch after that to warm the soil just enough, cloud coverage at night for insulation and no damaging winds or other harsh encounters with the elements.
When can you see these superblooms?
Predicting a superbloom is nearly impossible and knowing the exact dates is really just thumb-sucking. Peak season usually occurs around the beginning of spring, but buds may start to pop up around mid-February and last through June. In some cases, blooms can begin prematurely as we’ve already seen with the winter blooms spotted at Anza Borrego desert.
The reason this doesn’t happen every year is that it takes around a decade for all the right factors to line up. Sadly, climate change has also impacted the frequency of superblooms, bringing about extreme weather. Long-lasting droughts are followed by a year’s worth of rainfall that pours down in the space of a week, destroying the growing blooms-to-be or washing the seeds away completely. Flower tourism has also diminished the chances of wildflower blooms as it plays a role in erosion and the delicate flowers are often trampled.
Where are the best places to see the superbloom in 2023?
The best places to see a superbloom are more often than not, in state parks. Joshua Tree, Death Valley, Mojave, Lake Elsinore, Anza Borrego and Antelope Valley are amongst the top places to see this stunning floral blanketing, but here’s a more specific list of the top bloom spots across the state:
Best places to see wildflowers bloom in the Bay Area
🌼 Mount Tamalpais State Park
The Coast View Trail (from Pantoll) is a great place to see Pacific hound’s tongue, common star lily, footsteps of spring and dwarf checkermallow in February and March. Throughout April and May, you’ll see narrow-leaf mule’s ear, lupine, Ithuriel’s spear, blue dicks, California poppy, and Western blue-eyed grass. You’ll find the latest bloom and trail updates on their Instagram.
🌼 Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
This is another perfect place for flower spotting, especially along Lower Bald Mountain Trail where you’ll find Pacific hound’s tongue, red maids, baby blue eyes, checker lily and other species in early spring. While April and May bring whispering bells, popcorn flowers, Diogenes’ lanterns, blue dicks, lupine, and California poppy.
Best places to see wildflowers bloom in Southern California
🌼 Chino Hills State Park
This state park is a great place to see arroyo lupine, Canterbury, wild Black mustard flowers and school bells. Just make sure you keep updated with trail closures by checking their Instagram account.
🌼 Diamond Valley Lake
This easy and short 1.3-mile trail will bless you with views of orange poppies, purple lupines and goldfield, but be prepared for a decent crowd. We recommend hitting up this spot early on in the superbloom season, as the colors tend to fade somewhat quickly.
🌼 Antelope Valley
A perfect mix of rain and sunshine is needed to create the *perfect* superbloom, which is why the phenomenon is considered a pretty rare and glorified event. But when it does happen, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve should be on your hit-list. With rolling hills and expansive plains, the dazzling orange poppies and bright yellow fiddlenecks fill the reserve with a breathtaking splash of color.
🌼 Carrizo Plain
Visit Carrizo Plain to feel like you’re starring in The Sound of Music. This beautiful grassland in San Luis Obispo County turns into a mosaic of daisies, goldfields, poppies and vivid purple flowers if the rainy season plays its cards right.
🌼 Point Dume
For Angelenos that don’t want to adventure too far out of the city, Point Dume in Malibu is the ideal spot. This well known cliff becomes home to thousands of coreopses (small, yellow flowers that kind of resemble daisies) that shine even brighter against the backdrop of the brilliant blue ocean. If you’ve been here, you know that parking is limited on Cliffside Drive, so our recommendation is to park at the beach and hike up to the bluff. You won’t regret the views for a second.
🌼 Point Mugu State Park
This lush and verdant state park in the Santa Monica Mountains boasts over 900 native plants — meaning its a safe bet for superbloom scouting. Chances are you’ll stumble upon a surprise bounty of wildflowers along the many trails here, but it’s recommended to take the Chumash Trail where chocolate lilies and globe gilia grow.
🌼 Idyllwild Nature Center
If you’ve been to the Idyllwild Wildflower and Art Show, then you know wildflowers are kind of a big deal here. This abundantly green sanctuary is filled with western azaleas, lupine, penstemon varieties and wonderfully purple Alpine asters. Due to the high altitude, flowers tend to bloom a little later than usual — late May through July — so be sure to visit when the time is right. The Summit Trail that begins at the nature center is the recommended hike to spot some beautiful blooms.
🌼 Death Valley National Park
This usually dry and arid desert transforms into a blanket of desert gold and sand verbena flowers after an unusually rainy winter. Since the drive to Death Valley is about 5 hours from Los Angeles, you’ll likely want to know if you have a sure chance of seeing wildflowers. That’s where this online wildflower report comes in handy. Be sure to check out this resource to see if wildflowers have bloomed and the best places to view them.
How to see a superbloom responsibly
Of course, the splendor of these flower-covered landscapes draws in hordes of self-stick-wielding crowds which means the blossoms are often trampled at the cost of a picture. To avoid another “poppy apocalypse,” it’s always best to check out guidance from state park websites for information on responsible visits. It should go without saying, but avoid stepping on the blooms at all costs (as badly as the urge to freely frolick in the bloom-filled meadows may be). And if you happen to find unprotected pockets of wildflowers, it’s always best to stick to paths along the rolling hills and never, ever pick any of the flowers. Last but not least, the same etiquette as camping and hiking applies: leave no trace!