With a healthy dose of rain over the past few months (and a little bit more expected soon), the 2010 wildflower season is expected to be a great one – and it’s never too early to start planning those flower-peeping treks.
In Southern California, the desert wildflower blooms start in the southern end of the state and move north as the year progresses. Since so many of the displays require a bit of driving from the L.A. area, it’s in your best interest to make sure there are actually blooms worth seeing before you spend a few hours in your car.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is usually the first to bloom. This year, a recent cold snap has jeopardized some of the early flowers, but if the weather stays warm, they should recover soon. Their current wildflower report (PDF) shows a few areas of bloom, but the park expects peak bloom to occur sometime between now and the first few weeks of March. Check their wildflower web site for current updates, or visit the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association for more in-depth detail on the plants in bloom (thanks to 100 Peaks for the link).
Joshua Tree National Park usually has two blooming seasons – a March-April season for the southern, low-desert portion and another for the high-desert in the park’s northern half, which may not bloom until June! Right now, some plants are starting to bud, but blooms aren’t expected for a few more weeks. Check their Wildflower Report page for the most up to date information.
Death Valley National Park may look like a barren wasteland, but that arid valley can be home to some of the most spectacular wildflower shows on the planet. While this season won’t be as big as the 2005 bloom, Death Valley rangers are predicting a moderate bloom in late March / early April. (PDF)
Of course, wildflowers also bloom in our local mountains. Both DesertUSA and the Theodore Payne Foundation offer comprehensive predictions and weekly updates on wildflower prospects through the entire state of California, and are invaluable resources if you’re trying to time a trip for peak bloom.