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Photograph: Courtesy Unsplash/Bethany BeckPoint Dume

Where to see Southern California wildflowers

Every spring, a fresh bloom of Southern California wildflowers appears (assuming we’ve had some rain). Here are the best places to see the blossoms.

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
Stephanie Morino

Spring is almost here, which means Southern California wildflowers are about to make their appearance—and considering the rainy winter we’ve had so far, we have our fingers crossed for a spectacular display.

Whether you’re looking to go on one of the best hikes in L.A. to catch the colorful blooms or even take a day trip to see the desert flora, there are many options when it comes to trying to see Southern California wildflowers. So when we’ve been lucky enough to actually have a winter with some rain in Los Angeles, take advantage of it and head to one of our favorite spots below. (And if not, at least when have some cherry blossoms to fall back on.) 

After February’s unforgettably wet (and snowy) winter storms, we’re back on superbloom watch this March. Many trails are still pretty soggy or outright closed, so you’ll want to hang tight for now. But all of this recent rain bodes well for now—as long as an early spring heat wave doesn’t douse our superbloom chances.

We’ve checked in on some of our favorite spots to see SoCal wildflowers and their current bloom status. We’ll update each location as soon as there’s some bloom activity. We’ll also shout out the Theodore Payne Foundation’s wildflower hotline (available online, too), which releases weekly status updates.

Please be responsible when visiting the sites below; remain on marked trails and don’t trample the flowers.

Where to see Southern California wildflowers (and the latest bloom status)

A particularly wet winter in 2016–17 brought a superbloom to the Anza-Borrego Desert, but this year we’ve been seeing something even more out-of-the-ordinary: a mid-winter bloom. As of early March, the park says you can find patches of flowers in the northern part of the park at Henderson Canyon Road, the entrance to Coyote Canyon and the Cactus Loop Trail at Mamarisk Grove; and in the southern section at June Wash and Vallecito Wash.

In a typical year, you can expect to see desert gold poppies, phacelia and a variety of tiny “belly flowers.” As for where to see them, Henderson Canyon is the easiest to reach, though each canyon—like Borrego Palm Canyon and Coyote Canyon—offers different varieties (check the website for variety and trail information as the season progresses).

Take a hike along the top of the iconic Malibu cliff and you’ll find bundles of giant coreopsis that turn from dusty green to lively yellow each winter and spring (as of early March, the hilltop is covered in patches of the colorful flowers). You’ll find a very limited number of parking spots on Cliffside Drive, between Birdview Avenue and Dume Drive, but the flowery bluff also makes a lovely hike from the sandy beach below.


On the Palos Verdes Peninsula, wildflowers bloom year-round thanks to its coastal location, but like most Southern California locations, March and April are peak months. In the summer, you’ll see buckwheats with soft white blooms, cactus, native milkweed, cliff aster and California aster. Head to any number of the area’s nature preserves—the Palos Verdes Nature Preserve, Linden H. Chandler Preserve, George F. Canyon and White Point Nature Preserve—in the springtime to try to catch blooms. For those years when wildflowers disappoint, consider the manicured displays at South Coast Botanic Garden as an area alternative.

Poppies are beautiful when they cover the desert hillsides in orange flowers. But poppies are also fickle: If there’s too much rain, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve can only expect a moderate poppy season. Too dry? Not a great bloom either (but you could still see some other wildflowers). Peak poppy season is usually from March to mid-April—a short window if you want to catch the blooms at their height. Check the park’s website for the latest bloom status (or tune in to the livestream, which as of early March looks like a green but not-yet-blooming hillside), as well as our full guide to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.


There are about 900 native plants that grow throughout the Santa Monica Mountains, so you’re bound to find small patches of wildflowers on any trail in the area. However, if you’re looking for the best chance of a spectacular sight (so far you’ll just find little pops of color) head to Point Mugu State Park and Rancho Sierra Vista, both of which flank the western end of the range. Try taking the Chumash Trail; it starts at PCH and is a steep climb, where chocolate lily and globe gilia are known to grow along the ridgeline. Or start on the north side, at Rancho Sierra Vista near Thousand Oaks where you can walk the rolling hills in serch of wildflowers under the shadow of Boney Mountain.

Though the landscape was significantly altered in the wake of the devastating Woolsey Fire, Malibu Creek State Park has shown considerable signs of recovery since 2018. Though winter rains carpet the park in green, the most recent wet winters never quite brought a miracle superbloom to the region—fingers crossed that changes this year. That said, it’s still a remarkable spot that’s worth a visit any time of year.


This sprawling grassland in southeastern San Luis Obispo County may stretch past what we’d typically consider Southern California, but the three-hour trip is often well worth it after a wet winter. Make no mistake: On most days you’ll find an arid, dry lake bed at the center of this national monument. But if the conditions are just right—as they memorably were in 2017—you may spot a couple of weeks where the hillsides turn into rolling carpets of daisies, goldfields and other yellow, orange and purple flora. As of early March, the hills are looking quite green with some pretty patches of color—but nothing quite as dramatic yet as you see in the old photo above.

After a wet winter, you may find this iconic desert environment spotted with globemallow, desert sunflower, desert sand-verbena, brown-eyed primrose and more. If you don’t want to take the five-hour or so trek out there unknowing of what you may see, we suggest checking out the wildflower report online to be sure it’s worth your time, and where to go to find the best flora. (The park doesn’t expect there to be a superbloom in 2023.)


Due to the recent snow, the Idyllwild Nature Center is currently closed to car traffic.

Located in the San Jacintos Mountains, wildflowers are such a big deal here they have an entire festival around them. The Idyllwild Wildflower and Art Show typically arrives just in time for the region’s peak wildflower season (which comes much later in the season due to the area’s elevation around 5,400 feet). So if you head over in late May, you’ll find a variety of species, including western azaleas, a variety of lupine, both leafy and Alpine asters and a variety of penstemon. If you travel above 6,000 feet, you’ll find even more varieties, but those tend to bloom even later in the season (say, June or even July). If you’re looking to take a hike to see the flowers, try the Summit Trail from the nature center down to the meadow in the County Park, then returning via the Perimeter trail.

As of early March, all trails—with the exception of the paved Bane Canyon Road—are temporarily closed due to the recent rain

Chino Hills may not achieve full-blown superbloom status, but the state park pretty much looks like the Shire after a wet winter. A few very small patches of poppies line some of the dirt trails over rolling green hills, with little pops of yellow and purple, plus snow-capped mountains visible in the distance. Follow the lone park road, and just before it turns toward its terminus, you’ll find a dirt parking lot where Bane Canyon Road turns into Telegraph Canyon Road. Follow the signs for the Bane Ridge Trail and you’ll encounter poppies within 10 minutes. You’ll need to pay to park ($10 for the day of $3 per hour), though it’s free in the residential area near the entrance—but you’ll be tacking two to three hilly, shadeless miles onto your trek.


Marked by traffic nightmares, brief closures and the crush of thousands of visitors, Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore was a superbloom sensation in 2019. The hillside trail was covered with eye-poppingly beautiful carpets of poppies and other colorful flowers—with Disneyland-sized lines of people snaking their way through them.

Some of the first poppies started to appear in Walker Canyon in early February, but the City of Lake Elsinore really doesn’t want you to come visit: Both public and private land is closed off to the public for the duration of the bloom, Walker Canyon Road is closed to car traffic and there are “no parking” signs up and down the adjacent Lake Street and Temescal Canyon Road. The city doesn’t expect this year’s bloom to measure up to the 2019 one anyway; you can see for yourself on this stream of the empty trail.

You might find yourself looking at a map and thinking, surely there’s another way in, but be prepared to find yourself stranded on unmaintained backcountry trails if you attempt to do so. If you’re simply looking for a floral backdrop in that general direction, consider a trip to the Flower Fields in Carlsbad.

Don’t feel like leaving the bloom status up to chance?

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