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Wildflower Hunt ~ California Superbloom

Words by Christina Huntington  // Photography by Sarah Prikryl // Contributing Photograph by: Adam Grimes

If you live in California, you have no doubt been inundated all spring with photos of your friends and every Instagram model under the sun frolicking in fields of orange poppies alongside the word “Superbloom!” with varying degrees of exclamation points. (PRO DECODER TIP: three “!!!” generally means a 10/10 experience.) While the neon blooms of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve are certainly reminiscent of Dorothy’s intoxicating fields on her way to the merry old land of Oz, we honestly would not recommend this particular destination if you’re looking to get up close and personal with some California blossoms. Officially overrun with way too many visitors who were clearly never taught to “leave no trace”, you have a pretty fat chance of being able to peacefully commune with the beauty of nature at this ever-more-popular spot. But the good news is that due to our record rainfall this past winter, ALL of California is experiencing a Superbloom right now. Just walk outside your front door and you can witness the evidence all around you. But if you are itching for a little wildflower hunting adventure beyond the immediate homefront, we’ve got you covered. Here are our recommendations for experiencing the California Superbloom in all its magnificent floral glory!

ANZA-BORREGO DESERT STATE PARK

Located deep in the heart of the California desert just west of The Salton Sea, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a goldmine for the discerning bloom seeker. Definitely not your typical landscape (although flower fields do dot sections of the arid mountainous state park), Anza-Borrego is really all about prickly, fuzzy, spindly desert plants abloom. Walking the desert terrain with the giant ocotillos towering overhead, their wiry arms and bright red blossoms shooting out in every direction, you can’t help but feel that you are somehow simultaneously underwater—as if you just went for a deep-sea dive and find yourself now on the bottom of the ocean floor still drenched in desert sunshine. If Dr. Seuss wrote a book about plants, it would take place here in Anza-Borrego. Short and spiky, tall and twisty, furry and bloomy…the cacti and desert plants become characters all their own that you could swear almost speak to you. I may or may not have had an actual out-loud conversation with a chubby stubby cactus who reminded me of R2-D2. We are not able to confirm these events, but it MAY have happened. If you would like to find some floral desert friends of your very own, they are all waiting to be discovered at Anza-Borrego.

JOSHUA TREE

Continuing on the desert wildflower hunt, Joshua Tree National Park is also experiencing the gorgeous side-effects of the superbloom. Although here, the “superness” is far subtler. You have to keep your eyes peeled as you travel through the park since this bloom will not hit you over the head with obvious huge swaths of bushy flowers. But wildflowers are indeed everywhere. Look down at your feet, look closely, and suddenly you realize there are teeny gorgeous wildflowers of every color and variety spread across the desert floor like an old English fairy garden. Alice could have easily wandered through these whimsical tiny beauties during her adventures in Wonderland. Delicate purple, violet, pink, cream and yellow flowers dance and bob about in the wind, forcing you to become super present as you zero in on each new find…a true treasure hunt where every new discovery brings a little more joy and wonder to the desert flower seeker. With the cacti here adorned in bright red and yellow blooms like gorgeous Spanish dancers and the Joshua trees themselves growing in thick forest formations, there is even more beauty to behold here if you are willing to get beyond the obvious and allow each new step to be its own magnificent discovery.

YUCCA & COACHELLA VALLEYS

Both the Yucca and Coachella Valleys are bursting with wildflowers at every turn right now. You don’t even have to travel to an official park to see them. Just hop in the car, start exploring and you are bound to run into countless superbloom explosions of your own discovery. We found tons of beavertail cactus plants busting into bright fuchsia blooms all along 29 Palms Highway in all directions. Just off Highway 62 headed from Palm Springs towards Yucca, the entire landscape is covered in fields of bright yellow flowers, huge bushes creating neon yellow forests. Set against the backdrop of the snow-capped San Jacinto Mountains to the south and Big Bear to the West, you could easily have made a quick daytrip to the Swiss Alps without leaving California. Simply pull over and hop out wherever strikes your fancy…just be mindful of your step and be sure not to trample any flowers as you set about your expeditions.

LAKE ELSINORE & DIAMOND VALLEY LAKE

To the west of the desert superbloom, Lake Elsinore and Diamond Valley Lake are both experiencing wildflower blooms of the more traditional variety. Be aware that these destinations are popular, so you might want to plan for a weekday excursion if you can swing it. The trail that winds around Diamond Valley Lake is covered in sheets of orange poppies interspersed with giant purple bluebonnets—a truly stunning sight to behold against the dark blue waters. It’s also an easy hike for those with older or younger relatives who might want to join in on some wildflower hunting fun. The hills above Lake Elsinore in Walker Canyon are also currently covered in orange poppies and bright yellow bushy flower fields. BONUS: Walker Canyon is dog-friendly, so bring along your pooch and let them stop and smell the superbloom with you!

While you’re out there hunting flowers and enjoying California’s beautiful spring bounty, take a moment to consider:

What do I want to be planting in my life right now? What areas need a little tending to so they can come more fully alive? What are the things that bring me true joy…and how can I experience more of that in my day-to-day life?

Happy Superblooming!!! love, Sirens & Scoundrels xoxo


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