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Climate and Environment

A Super Bloom Isn’t Guaranteed — Even With All That Rain. But Here's What We Do Know

A person has an arm around another person as they walk near a hillside covered in orange wildflowers.
People walk along a designated path to see a super bloom of wild poppies in the hills of Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore in 2019.
(Mario Tama
Getty Images)
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While much of the state has seen an above average amount of rain the past few months, many of Southern California’s desert areas have not. They’ll likely need a bit more, consistent rain for ideal super bloom conditions.

The Next Few Weeks Matter

Wildflowers in our desert areas want consistent rain that can give the soil a deep soak, and keep things from getting too dry up until the start of spring.

And here's the reality: “There hasn’t been enough rain to generate a great bloom,” said Richard Minnich, author of California’s Fading Wildflowers: Lost Legacy and Biological Invasions.

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This year’s super bloom is dependent on what kind of rain we get in the coming weeks.

“It’s going to have to happen between now and March, and if there are no major storms, there won’t be a super bloom,” said Minnich.

Some Flowers Are Better Than None

“Throughout the Southwest, I’m pretty confident that there will be at least some wildflowers this year,” said Daniel Winkler, research ecologist with the U.S Geological Survey.

But he adds that, “nothing’s guaranteed, especially in desert systems.”

In Lake Elsinore, where they do "poppy planting," city officials announced this week they'll be closing Walker Canyon. That's after massive foot traffic in 2019 trampled the flowers and exhausted emergency responders when visitors came unprepared to hike.

Where To Travel To See Flowers

For your best flower-viewing opportunity, think about taking a trip some time in March or April, and sticking to areas located between State Route 14 and the Grapevine, or in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, which saw a bit more rain. A trip up our coast might be worth it as well. Some places to check:

And here are a few spots worth keeping an eye on as we await blooming season courtesy of our archives:

Saddleback Butte State Park

Saddleback Butte State Park is 17 miles east of Lancaster, so it’s a bit of a trek from L.A., but when it's blooming you’ll be rewarded with lush fields of little yellow flowers. The state park surrounds the Saddleback Butte, a granite mountaintop 3,651 feet above sea level, on the western edge of the Mojave Desert.

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The entrance to Saddleback Butte State Park is on 170th Street East, between East Avenue J and East Avenue K.

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, 35 miles west of Saddleback Butte State Park, is a world-renowned place to see poppies. Named one of the country’s top 10 spots to see wildflowers by Fodor’s, the 1,780-acre Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve has eight miles of hiking trails.

While taking the 14 freeway may be the shortest route, going up the 5 freeway to the 138 will yield you the most scenery.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is home to a stunning annual wildflower bloom. The nearly 800,000-acre park has nine campgrounds and is located near the suddenly hip communities of Joshua Tree and Pioneertown, making for a great weekend trip.

Joshua Tree National Park is located off Highway 62 in Twentynine Palms. To get to Covington Flats, take La Contenta south off the highway.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego State Park near San Diego can be a great place to see wildflowers.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is located off Highway 78 in Borrego Springs. It’s about a 2 hour and 40 minute trip from L.A.

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