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Death Valley National Park
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Where to see Southern California wildflowers

Every spring, a fresh bloom of Southern California wildflowers appears. Here are the best places to see the blossoms.

Michael Juliano
Edited by
Michael Juliano
Stephanie Morino

As we move through the spring, you can still some worthwhile displays of Southern California wildflowers, but it seems like a full-blown super bloom—at least as far as poppies are concerned—might have passed us by this year.

If you embark on one of the best hikes in L.A. right now, you’ll likely find lots of green grasses but only a few colorful flowers. Instead, you’ll need to embark on a day trip into the desert to see some standout flora—but even then, some of the most dazzling displays are already passing their peak. Since we were lucky enough to actually have a winter with some rain in Los Angeles, we do still have some standout Southern California wildflowers—but maybe not quite a super bloom.

What’s the latest bloom status?

As of mid-April, Death Valley and Carrizo Plain are just about the only places with remarkable blooms. Closer to home, Malibu’s Point Dume has been blanketed in yellow flowers. But otherwise, areas normally filled with poppies have so far been a bust, and there’s nothing we’d really label a “super bloom.” 

Aside from those, there’s not much we’d say is worth the trek. And given the increasingly warm-bordering-on-hot weather—surely you’ve already noticed that L.A.’s hillsides are a little less green than they were just a few weeks ago—this year’s opportunity for more truly dazzling displays may have already come and gone.

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 new bloom activity. It’s still always a good idea, though, to check with each individual park for the most up-to-the-minute info on any road closures or weather updates. California State Parks, which manages many of the most notable potential sites for wildflowers, maintains its own bloom status tracker on this page). 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.

The best places to see Southern California wildflowers right now (and the latest bloom status)

1. Carrizo Plain

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 mid-April, the landscape here is blooming with hillside daisies and goldfields—but the beautiful patches of purple and blue that you see in the old photo above haven’t quite taken hold. According to the Carrizo Plain Conservancy, recent grass growth may outcompete those colorful patches, leading to what might be a good but not great year for wildflowers. Just a heads up if you take the trek that some roads are wet and muddy, and no towing services are readily available in the relatively remote area.

2. Death Valley National Park

After a wet winter, you may find this iconic desert environment spotted with globemallow, desert sunflower, desert sand-verbena, brown-eyed primrose and more. In early April, the notoriously hot and dry park sprang to life with wildflowers—though now that temperatures are climbing into the triple digits, we’re not quite sure how much longer they’ll hang on. 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.

Though crowds flocked here after the February rainfall for the temporary lake that took over Badwater Basin, that has since mostly evaporated. As of mid-April, there are a few spots with large patches of yellow flowers, notably near the east entrance (Dantes View Rd) and Panamint Valley (west side of the park), as well as east of the park along Stateline Road between Death Valley Junction and Pahrump.


3. Point Dume

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 mid-April, the flowers are still in bloom, and the parks department expects it to last into May. You’ll find a very limited number of parking spots on Cliffside Drive, between Birdview Avenue and Dume Drive, and zero parking in the surrounding neighborhoods. But thankfully you can reach the flowery bluff via a lovely (and uphill but not punishingly so) hike from the sandy beach below.

4. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Located west of the Salton Sea, and about a three-hour drive from L.A., this sprawling state park mostly known for its rough terrain and dry lakes has become an oddly reliable wildflower destination over these past few wet winters. As of mid-April, though, most wildflowers have withered, save for some pockets in higher elevations.

It’s also roughly in the same direction as South Lake Park in San Marcos, a small hillside trail on the northern edge of San Diego County that was blanketed with lilacs. But we don’t think either are really worth the multi-hour trek at this point—especially as it gets considerably hotter in the area.

In a typical year, you can expect to see desert gold poppies, phacelia and a variety of tiny “belly flowers.” Of all the locations, Henderson Canyon tends to be the easiest to reach, though right now you’ll need to be willing to venture onto other, higher-up trails to see the displays that still remain. Check the park’s Instagram for the most up-to-date bloom news and trail information as the season progresses, as well as this remarkably helpful interactive map.


5. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

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 potentially see some other wildflowers).

So far, 2024 has been a pretty peculiar season, in which lots of rain and cool temperatures caused brome grasses and fiddlenecks to outcompete poppies at much of the reserve. As of mid-April, the hillsides there are still mostly green and there are some yellow flowers to see, but only tiny patches of poppies—certainly not enough to make the drive if your only goal is to see the iconic orange flowers. You can find out more in our full guide to the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

In a typical year, 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.

6. Chino Hills State Park

Chino Hills may not achieve full-blown super bloom status, but the state park pretty much looks like the Shire after a wet winter (it was so wet this year that the trails were even closed temporarily). As of mid-April, the hills are still green, but outside of some small patches of wild radish and black mustard, no significant bloom ever arrived—with barely any poppies visible.

Regardless of whether or not there’s a bloom, it’s still a beautiful hike. 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—in those years when they actually bloom—you’ll likely 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.


7. Diamond Valley Lake

When Walker Canyon closed last year, Diamond Valley Lake’s 1.3-mile seasonal wildflower trail emerged as a fair substitute. The typically dry terrain was turned a lush green and covered with patches of orange poppies, purple lupines and goldfields.

Though the trail is now open for the season (Wed–Sun), you won’t really see many flowers at all. In those years when there is a brilliant bloom, expect thick crowds and no shade. You’ll want to arrive early with cash for the entrance fee ($4 per person) and prepare to wait in a line of cars. Parking ($11) is available at the marina (2615 Angler Ave); from there follow the Lakeview Trail for about a half mile and you—and the crowd in front of you—will reach the wildflower loop.

8. Palos Verdes Peninsula

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.


9. Point Mugu State Park

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 once the weather starts to warm. You likely won’t find a spectacular sight, but once the flowers do start to bloom, consider heading 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.

10. Malibu Creek State Park

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. While winter rains carpet the park in green, we’ve yet to see those storms bring a miracle super bloom 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.


11. Idyllwild Nature Center

Located in the San Jacintos Mountains, wildflowers are such a big deal here they have an entire festival around them. The wildflower show typically arrives just in time for the region’s peak bloom (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.

12. Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore (CLOSED)

Marked by traffic nightmares, brief closures and the crush of thousands of visitors, Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore was a super bloom 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.

It caused such a nightmare for locals that the City of Lake Elsinore flat-out closed the area by the canyon to both cars and pedestrians in 2023 in anticipation of the bloom’s return. That’s the case again this year. The City of Lake Elsinore really doesn’t want you to come visit: Walker Canyon Road and Lake Street are closed to car traffic, there’s no parking allowed nearby either and the city’s mayor is saying that the canyon is closed. Though the city first said it went ahead and procured shuttle service for the area, if needed, it’s become clear that there won’t be any public shuttles to the area.

So far these steps are entirely preventative: The hills are green with no signs of poppies yet, and 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.) Otherwise, 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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