A painted lady butterfly sits atop a desert sunflower

A painted lady butterfly (Vanessa cardui) sits atop a sweet-scented desert sunflower (Geraea canescens), with its orange interior, near Coyote Canyon, at Anza-Borrego State Park.

Over the past few months, Southern California has received record rainfall in the local valleys and deserts and record snowfall in the mountains.

All this precipitation, almost 9 inches in some areas, should translate into another “super bloom” of wildflowers in the desert, particularly at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

This inordinate amount of water will awaken dormant seeds, as it did in the “super bloom” of 2017.

“We’ve had above-average rainfall this winter,” said Anza-Borrego Park Ranger Sally Theriault. “It makes it possible for us to have an above-average bloom. Right now, we’re seeing early flowers because lots of areas have had heavy rains in the fall.

“The big wildflower field that people come to see in Anza-Borrego has not really started blooming yet.”

The enormous field is on Henderson Canyon Road.

Go to the visitor’s center for a map that shows the locations of where the wildflowers can be found.

“We expect the field to be blooming some-time in March.”

The sustained colder weather has impeded the super bloom thus far.

According to Theriault, a period of continued warmer weather will determine when the flowers will bloom en masse over the parched landscape.

 “People from all over the world come to see the different types of vegetation that we have at the park,” said park volunteer Pauline Longmire. “They love seeing the wildflowers.

“When the flowers all bloom, there are many colors for them to enjoy.”

“This is a wonderful park to see the beautiful flowers,” said visiting artisan Gerardo Chavez. “There are different types of cactus all around the area. “We saw many colorful flowers when we came to set up for the event here this weekend. It was really something to see.”

Where to find the wildflowers

  • Coyote Canyon (entrance): The canyon was recently closed due to flooding. However, you can park at the end of DiGiorgio Road and walk east on a private road.
  • There you will see a field filled with a blanket of lavender sand verbena, golden gray and desert sunflowers, brown-eyed evening primrose, purple lupine, desert lilies, spectacle pods and purple mat.
  • Arroyo Salado Primitive Camp: Drive 1/8 mile in, toward the restroom, and you will see some, if not all, of the blooms that are in Coyote Canyon.
  • S-22: Wildflowers abound on both sides of the road. Check out the washes, on either side of the road to view a variety of wildflowers.

What to bring

  • Plenty of water, food, closed-toed shoes, a hat, sunscreen, a camera and layered clothing. The weather can change at a moment’s notice.

Rules of the path

  • Take photos, not flowers
  • Drones are not allowed.
  • Take out what you bring in.
  • Dogs are only allowed on park roads with a 6-foot leash. Pick up after your pet.

For flower updates

  • Go to Anza-Borrego Foundation at TheABF.org or call (760) 767-0446, or Anza-Borrego State Desert Park visitor center at parks.ca.gov/anzaborrego or call (760) 767-4205 for more information.

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(1) comment


Super Bloom video from Canyon Country hill sides https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYSHb5ioV14 California Poppies and Wild Flowers filmed 03-18-19 with a DJI Mavic 2 Drone.

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