Last month, I pondered whether we’d have a full-blown super bloom this spring. While that’s yet to fully be determined, there are plenty of nearby places where people can see beautiful wildflowers right now.
We are starting to see blooms around Joshua Tree National Park, mainly around the Pinto Basin and Cottonwood Springs area, near the south entrance—and the Joshua trees are flowering throughout the park and beyond. It’s definitely a great time to drive through the park, with frequent stops to stretch your legs and take some beautiful pictures.
We know that Walker Canyon will be closed to visitors this year, but another great place to see a colorful display of desert wildflowers is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. I’m hearing that a 2023 super bloom is unlikely, but there are still many beautiful blooms to enjoy throughout the park and the entire Anza-Borrego area. While I haven’t made it to Anza-Borrego yet this wildflower season, I hear there is quite a spectacular viewing of colors.
Another top spot for a spectacular wildflowers, if you don’t mind a five-hour drive, is Death Valley. Located near the Nevada border, Death Valley is known for its rich terrain and impeccable hiking trails. According to the latest wildflower update from the National Park Service in Death Valley, a good wildflower year depends on at least three things: well-spaced rainfall throughout the fall, winter and spring; sufficient warmth from the sun; and a lack of drying winds. The report then addresses the question of whether there will be a super bloom this year. “The short answer—nope! Generally, super blooms are preceded by fall/winter rains, which we did not receive. Sprouts of many wildflower species have been seen popping up on alluvial fans, in washes and around Furnace Creek Visitor Center, but we have not seen widespread germination that would indicate a super bloom.”
I’ll mention two more great places to see amazing desert wildflowers—both of which offer fields of orange poppies mixed with colorful yellow and purple wildflowers. One is the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Located near Lancaster, it’s about a 2 1/2-hour drive from the Coachella Valley. The other is Chino Hills State Park, about a 90-minute drive from the Coachella Valley.
In many areas, the blooms seem to be somewhat sporadic, nothing like carpets of wildflowers that we had during the 2019 super bloom. I have taken some drives recently toward Los Angeles and San Diego, and I’ve noticed a lot of color, but in spotty patches along the hillsides. Some places I’ve seen flowers include the San Dimas area; south along Interstate 15; and around Highway 76 from the Fallbrook area to the coast.
Closer to home: As of this writing, if you drive up Indian Canyon north of Interstate 10, it looks like a yellow carpet of desert dandelion wildflowers. It’s beautiful, and this area is far from unique: Most trails in and around the Coachella Valley are popping with wildflowers right now. Get out there and see for yourself.
It’s not just beautiful wildflowers that are emerging with the arrival of springtime; wildlife including tarantulas, the horned toad and many types of lizards and snakes have emerged from hibernation and brumation. Keep your eyes open while out on the desert trails, especially for rattlesnakes. They are out and moving about!
You may even see a desert tortoise out for a stroll this time of year. Whether you’re taking a drive through Joshua Tree National Park or out on a trail, keep your eyes open for them. If you’re fortunate enough to see one, remember to keep your distance—and never pick up a desert tortoise. Also, it’s lambing season, so you might see some of the endangered peninsular bighorn sheep with their young. Again, no matter what wild creature you see, be respectful by keeping adequate space: Admire them from a distance so you don’t disturb them or harm them in any way.
Spring also brings some special events—including, this year, the return of Desert X! It’s a free event and is certainly a must-see, must-experience adventure, featuring socially and environmentally themed art installations scattered throughout the Coachella Valley through May 7. You can literally spend the entire day driving around the desert viewing the different art exhibits created by artists all over the world. Find a map at desertx.org/visit/map.
Finally, every April 22 is Earth Day, which is also the first day of National Park Week (April 22 to April 30), and a free entrance day at participating national parks, including Joshua Tree National Park.
What will you do to show your appreciation for our beautiful planet? Step outside, and put your feet in the rich soil? Go for a hike or a bike ride? Go birding; plant a tree; or help clean up waste? Options are endless to show our support for our planet and help to protect it. Let’s bring awareness on Earth Day to environmental issues that our planet faces—and help to promote solutions for a sustainable future.
Thank you Theresa for a very informative article. It brought up several areas and options for enjoying the wildflowers. I’ve always loved going to the Anza Borrego desert as a favorite.
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