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3 Days of Chasing Wildflowers in Southern California

When California blooms it is spectacular!

By: Michael Fricke + Save to a List

California has gotten more rain than usual this winter, making for a beautiful spring. The waterfalls are running and the flowers are blooming! I took a trip to see if I could see some of the bloom because flowers can come and go so fast in SoCal. 

Walker Canyon

Walker Canyon has bloomed with orange poppies. The colors are amazing, some of the best I saw on my trip. I do need to stress that if you do decide to come, please be respectful. The city shutdown the canyon the Sunday after I came because of too many disrespectful visitors. It has reopened but I wouldn't go on a weekend. I went on a Thursday and parked about 1/2 mile from the trailhead. It is very crowded. I saw many people walking through the fields trampling flowers and laying on top of flowers for pictures - please don't be those people! I spent a few hours here taking photos but I had plans to camp in Joshua Tree, so I needed to move on.

Joshua Tree

My second stop was Joshua Tree National Park. I came in through the north west entrance of the park on Park Blvd. I ate some food and set out for my campsite. I always backcountry camp in Joshua Tree because I like my peace and quiet and to really get out into nature.

At the time of this trip only the southern part of Joshua Tree was blooming. So for the first part the second day I didn't really see much in terms of wildflowers but it was still fun. I hiked back to my car at sunrise from where I camped then did a quick morning hike up Ryan Mountain which gives great views of the desert below. It was beautiful to see snow on the mountains in the background behind the desert.

The best wildflowers in Joshua Tree were south of the Cottonwood Visitor Center near the Bajada Nature Trail. So I traveled south through the park towards the south entrance. I wasn't disappointed! The Pinto Basin section of Joshua Tree has some amazing wildflowers and combined with the butterfly migration that was going on it was a wonderful sight.

I have been to Joshua Tree many times but have never seen it like this. It was awesome to see a place I've been to so many times look so different. With that, I exited the park through the south entrance.

Anza Borrego

The next day I had plans to check out Anza Borrego with my family. I met up with them and we drove out to Borrego Springs. The visitor center has great information on where flowers are blooming. We decided our plan was to go up to Coyote Canyon then make our way out towards Font's Wash/Borrego Badlands and the Salton Sea. There were many places along the road that were in bloom. We stopped four times to get out and walk around. We stopped at a field on the way up to Coyote Canyon from Borrego Springs and it was a beautiful view with the mountains in the background.

Next we headed up to Coyote Canyon, we stopped at a picnic area called Desert Garden on the way up the dirt road to the canyon. Desert Garden was nice and had some ocotillo and wildflowers blooming. Some of the cactus were also starting to bloom.

Our third stop was along Borrego Salton Seaway(S22) near Font's Wash, which was another stop where the bloom was good.

Our final stop was Arroyo Salado Primitive Campground. This stop had some nice flowers (not as many as the other stops) and great views of the Borrego Badlands. With that we drove out to the Salton Sea and then up to Highway 10 back home.   

I highly encourage people that are respectful of nature to check out the wildflowers in Joshua Tree and Anza Borrego. The desert wildflowers do not last long so enjoy them while they are here. This year is a better year than usual for Southern California wildflowers. If you do decide to go check out the flowers, remember to tread lightly, don't trample the flowers, don't pick the flowers, and be respectful of nature.

If you enjoyed these photos check out my Instagram

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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