These Stunning 'Super Bloom' Photos Will Inspire You to Book a Last-minute Trip to California
Three hours south of Los Angeles, nestled inside 600,000 acres of protected land, sits the tiny community of Borrego Springs.
With a population of just over 3,000 people, the town has no need for stoplights. Its downtown consists of just a few shops, one pizza parlor, a Mexican restaurant, and a small convenience store. The community prides itself on its protection of the surrounding natural environment, which includes Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the second-largest contiguous state park in the United States.
In fact, the people of Borrego Springs hold the environment in such high regard that the use of lights after dark is restricted, including a rule stating no outdoor light can point upward, to keep the dazzling view of the night sky intact. This rule helped the town become only the second community in the world to be awarded the prestigious Dark Sky Community designation by the International Dark Sky Association.
While the community may be a small, dusty desert blip on the map, travelers from all over are making the journey to visit for one spectacular and wildly rare show put on by Mother Nature.
“They are blooming everywhere right now. There are some great displays already,” Kathy Dice, Superintendent of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park said of the once-in-a-decade Borrego Springs desert flower super bloom. “Anybody who parks their cars and walks around is going to see all kinds of interesting flowers.”
Thanks to an unusually rainy year in California, the park and town is experiencing its first super bloom since 2008.
“I think the morning is prime time,” Dice, who has lived and worked in Borrego Springs for 30 years, advises visitors.
We arrived just as the sun was rising over the hills of the state park, and just as the flowers opened their petals to soak up the 90-degree sun. If you don’t see the flowers at first you’ll certainly be able to smell them out. By dawn the entire community is glazed over with the sweet scent of wildflowers.
Flower hunters should beware that the field outside the state park’s visitor center isn’t the only place where the magic happens. Get adventurous and drive a few miles away to Coyote Canyon and be rewarded with a less crowded space and more diverse blooms including Desert Lilies, Brown-Eyed Primrose, Little Gold Poppies, and fields packed with Desert Sunflowers.
“What we’re known for really, we have a large variety, 100 different types of flowers. It’s very colorful,” Dice said.
If you want to see the desert in full bloom you’d better act fast. “The length of bloom depends on weather, and of course the hungry caterpillars that are now hatching,” Dice explained, adding that these little creatures “can change a field in a day.”
But if you can’t make it for the bloom, which will likely only last another week or two, it’s still worth the drive as the next phase is the cacti bloom. Bright fuchsia-pink flowers are preparing to dot the tops of the Beavertail Cactus, while yellow and red flowers will soon sit like eggs in a nest atop the Barrel Cactus.
“The color continues, it just continues in different forms,” Dice said. “Every year, for me, it’s a discovery. This year, you’re going to trip over flowers.”
Arizona Lupine can grow up to 30 inches tall, stacked to the top with bright purple flowers.
The Barrel Cactus can grow up to 10 feet tall and is topped with vibrant yellow flowers tucked together like eggs in a nest.
A ladybug enjoys some mid-morning sun atop a Beavertail Cactus bloom.
Brown-eyed Primrose blankets much of the area around Anza-Borrego.
A tuft of Brown-eyed Primrose greets sightseers outside the visitor’s center.
Take a closer look to see the stunning maroon-brown color of the Brown-eyed Primrose.
A hungry bee finds his way into a Chuparosa shrub.
A Desert Lily shoots out from the arid desert ground.
A Desert Sunflower prepares itself to bloom.
Desert and Dune Sunflowers
The Desert and Dune Sunflowers dance together in a valley next to Anza-Borrego State Park.
A Sunflower's Solitude
A lone Desert Sunflower pokes out near the road.
Dune Evening Primrose
The Dune Evening Primrose shows off its large and eye-catching petals.
One of the park’s youthful explorers checks in on which flowers he’s already spotted.
A field of wildflowers greets the morning sun.
A dense growth of Fremont’s Pincushion coat the desert floor.
Wildflowers, including Fremont’s Pincushions, intermingle in the field.
Poppy on the Rocks
Little Golden Poppy breaks up the otherwise rocky terrain.
Little Golden Poppy
Up close the Little Golden Poppy’s bright yellow petals pop even more off their leafless stems.
A Rock Daisy gets its name from where it loves to grow: in rocky places.
Sand Verbenas grow in clusters, letting off a highly fragrant, sweet flower smell.
Stretching for Sun
Sand Verbenas stretch as high as they can toward the scorching sun.
A group of Spectacle Pod shoots out from the desert floor.
Wild Heliotrope grows freely along the road leading to Anza-Borrego.
The Popcorn Flower grows low to the ground with coils of small white flowers.
A Borrego Springs Regular
The Wild Heliotrope is a common annual that grows in Borrego Springs.