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The Best Places To See Wildflowers in Southern California 

March 12, 2019
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve  | Where to find wildflowers in Southern California

When we moved back to California in 2017, we were introduced to what spring could be in Southern California. Although we previously lived in Los Angeles for five years, I don’t think I ever saw more than a few wild golden poppies during our time there. That was probably due to the fact that both of our work schedules were always a little bit crazy during the first few months of the year, so we didn’t get out as much as we’d like. Plus, California was going through one of the worst droughts in its recorded history. Not a lot of rain means not a lot of wildflowers in Southern California, so the thing we saw that was golden most often were people’s lawn (aka dead grass). 

The rain gods finally smiled down on Southern California, and in late 2016/early 2017 we received so much rain that not only did much of the region finally emerge from the five-year drought but experienced the phenomenon called super bloom. Hills that were usually dead and brown sprung to life, carpeted in verdant green before they burst into intense shades of orange, yellow and purple. The wildflowers took a bit of a hiatus in 2018, but they’re back in full force in 2019 with another super bloom.  

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Where to find the best wildflowers in Southern California | Caught the super bloom bug? Use this guide to find beautiful fields of flowers in Southern California this spring. | #california #wildflowers #superbloom #southerncalifornia

 

During super bloom, there are so many places to see wildflowers in Southern California. Wildflowers typically start blooming in late February and early March, and some last until the start of summer in June. There are a few popular spots that thousands of people flock to for the wildflowers, but also some lesser-known places that still have a lot of blooms. We’ve included a few places to see wildflowers that are closer to us in Orange County since we don’t always have time to drive a few hours each way, but still want to enjoy the flowers. Check out this list of the best places to see wildflowers in Southern California in the spring. 

A quick note: We know that loving nature means respecting it. During our visits to these wildflowers, we stayed on existing paths and did not step on, sit on, or pick the flowers. We want others to be able to enjoy them too! 

Bush Sunflowers in Crystal Cove State Park | Where to Find the Best Wildflowers in Southern California

Wildflowers near San Diego  

1 Anza-Borrego Desert State Park 

We first learned about Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in 2017 when it experienced massive super bloom, and the usually dry desert floors were blanketed in bright purple flowers. Anza-Borrego is California’s largest state park and has so much to do in every season.  

For an up-to-date status of wildflowers in Anza-Borrego and the best places to see them, check out this website or call the park’s wildflower hotline at (760) 767-4684. You can also stop at the visitor’s center to pick up a map and talk to a ranger about the best spots. 

Flowers you’ll see: Parish’s Poppy, Sand Verbena, Brown-eyed Evening Primrose, Desert Sunflowers, Desert Lilies, Lupine, Dune Primrose and many more native California desert wildflowers 

Blooming season: February through April 

Location: Call (760) 767-4684 for updates on best spots within Anza Borrego or check out this map here

➳ Read more: A Complete Guide to Anza Borrego State Park 

Wildflowers during super bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park | Where to find the best wildflowers in Southern California

2 Julian 

Julian may be famous for apple-picking (and apple pies!), but it’s worth a trip in the spring to see the daffodils bloom. Daffodils aren’t native to Julian; they were first planted by a resident in the 1990s. Since then, the whole community has joined in on the effort to plant the daffodil bulbs each November. There are now over three million daffodils in the area. 

Blooming season: the daffodils usually start blooming in early March 

Location: Roadsides of Julian, California 

3 Carlsbad Flower Fields 

These rainbow fields of giant ranunculus in Carlsbad, California aren’t wild, but they’re too beautiful to miss. In 2019, ticket prices are $18 per adult and $9 per child to visit the over 50 acres of flowers. Check the Carlsbad Flower Fields website for events and up-to-date information. 

Flowers you’ll see: Giant Ranunculus 

Blooming season: March 1 through mid-May 

Location: 5704 Paseo Del Norte Carlsbad, CA 92008 

Hours: 9 am to 6 pm daily 

Carlsbad Flower Fields | Best Places to See Flowers in Southern California

Wildflowers in Orange County 

4 Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore 

When these hills were set ablaze with bright orange California poppies in 2017, the color was so mesmerizing it literally stopped traffic on the 15 freeway. This has become one of the most popular spots during California’s super bloom in recent years, so try to head out early or on a weekday to enjoy these flowers without so many crowds. We hiked about a mile in where we found more flowers and less people.

Peak bloom is hitting in mid-March in 2019, which also means peak crowds. This city of Lake Elsinore is working to help with the parking situation by adding a shuttle. If you park in the nearby outlet mall parking lot at 17600 Collier Ave., there is a shuttle running to Walker Canyon on the weekends from 8 am to 7 pm. The shuttle costs $5 per person. No pets are allowed on the shuttles.

Flowers you’ll see: Golden poppies, plus purple, yellow and white wildflowers 

Blooming season: February through April 

Location: Walker Canyon Trail near Lake Elsinore 

Golden Poppies during super bloom in Walker Canyon near Lake Elsinore | Where to find the best wildflowers in Southern California

5 Chino Hills State Park 

We could see poppies flowering in Chino Hills State Park from the freeway. Check out the Upper Aliso Canyon Trail or the Bane Canyon Loop Trail to see wildflowers. 

Flowers you’ll see: Golden poppies, violet owl clovers, lupines, and many more 

Blooming season: February through April 

Location: 4721 Sapphire Rd, Chino Hills, CA 91709

Golden Poppies in Chino Hills State Park | Super bloom in Southern California

Santiago Oaks Regional Park 

This regional Orange County park is tucked behind a neighborhood. We went very early on in the season and found a few small patches of poppies along the Weir Canyon Loop, plus lots of other colorful wildflowers.  

Flowers you’ll see: Golden poppies, arroyo lupine, fiddleneck, Indian paintbrush, blue-eyed grass, California wishbone, and bush sunflowers 

Blooming season: February through April 

Location: North of 2145 N. Windes Drive, off Santiago Canyon Road, in Orange, CA

Golden Poppies in Santiago Oaks Regional Park in Orange County, California

7 Crystal Cove State Park 

The coastal paths in Crystal Cove are lined with bright yellow bush sunflowers after a winter of good rain. The flowers are all throughout the park, but our favorite spot is the wooden boardwalk leading from Pelican Point Parking lot 2 down to the beach. 

Flowers you’ll see: Bush sunflowers, plus more along the coastal paths and in Moro Canyon across the PCH 

Blooming season: Peak bloom is usually mid-March 

Location: Pelican Point parking lot #2, Crystal Cove State Park 

8 Laguna Coast Wilderness Park 

There are over 40 miles of hiking trails throughout the 7,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness Park. Each year the Nix Nature Center holds a first-day-of-spring wildflower hunt. 

Flowers you’ll see: morning glories, hyacinthpopcorn flowers, southern suncups, and many more 

Location: 18751 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach, on both sides of Highway 73

Wildflowers near Los Angeles

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve 

The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is one of the most stunning displays of wildflowers in the state when these rolling hills burst into vivid oranges and yellows. Parking is $10 per car and no dogs are allowed in the park. Check out current photos of the blooms here. 

Blooming season: February through April. Peak viewing is typically late March or early April. 

Flowers you’ll see: Golden poppies, forget-me-nots, slender keeled fruit, and filaree flowers 

Location: 15101 Lancaster Rd, Lancaster, CA 93536 

Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve | Best Places to See Wildflowers in Southern California

10 Carrizo Plain National Monument 

The open grasslands of Carrizo Plain National Monument burst into waves of purple and gold flowers. You can find updates on the spring flowers on the BLM California Facebook page here. 

Blooming season: mid-March to mid-April 

Location: 17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, CA 93453 

Flower-covered hills in Carrizo Plain National Monument | Best Places to See Wildflowers in Southern California

Have you found any great places to see wildflowers in Southern California this spring? Let us know in the comments!

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8 Comments

  • Reply A Complete Guide to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park March 15, 2019 at 6:17 pm

    […] ➳ Read more: The Best Places to See Wildflowers in Southern California […]

  • Reply upasana March 15, 2019 at 11:50 pm

    Such dreamy and beautiful post. Especially the pictures from Orange Country are way too gorgeous.

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 20, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Thanks so much!

  • Reply Kay March 15, 2019 at 11:52 pm

    It’s always a joy to see these babies blooming! Great spots!

  • Reply Grace Silla March 16, 2019 at 7:39 am

    I love all of these but wow, the Carrizo Plain National Monument photo is incredible!

  • Reply Vicki March 16, 2019 at 9:55 am

    This looks so incredible. I’ve been dreaming of going to see the wildflowers in bloom. Maybe next year!!

  • Reply Allyson March 19, 2019 at 11:05 pm

    Thank you for this! This is our first year in SoCal and as a military family, we like to experience everything that is unique about an area! And this is no exception. I was a little bummed to see that Lake Elsinore got so out of hand last weekend and I’m hoping people can calm down and get out of the flowers. 🙂 I am completely drawn to Antelope Valley, but, like you, I don’t want to necessarily drive 3 hours from where we are in San Pedro. So it’s nice to have some other options! Thanks for the post!

    • Reply Kelly Barcus March 20, 2019 at 11:34 am

      Thanks Allyson, so glad you found this helpful! Hope you enjoy SoCal!

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