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2024 California Super Bloom Wildflowers Guide

The 2024 California Super Bloom wildflower season is fast approaching, and if there is anything I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that there is no better time than the present to stop and smell the flowers. The extremely rainy California winter may mean that we will finally be treated to another rare super bloom somewhere in the state this year.

This guide will help you find the best super bloom spots and wildflower locations around California. While you are out searching for wildflowers, be sure to take in the natural beauty that already exists by taking a closer look at trees, shrubs, wildlife, and the geology of the land.

Read on to discover what kind of wildflower season we are in for this year!

California super bloom

2024 Wildflower Outlook

Note: As of March 2024, The superbloom outlook will be spectacular all over California. For areas not quite in Super Bloom status, the wildflowers will be vast and abundant.

In previous years that have received sufficient rainfall, one could stumble upon vast California landscapes painted with giant swaths of orange, purple, and yellow wildflowers. Due to the dry winter last year, super blooms did not occur throughout the state. With a significant amount of rain and snow already accumulated this winter, this year is currently looking more promising for wildflower displays.

Super blooms are rare, and only occur when all the right conditions coincide. For example, the last spectacular spring wildflower displays have only been recorded in Death Valley in 2016, 2005, and 1998. With climate change significantly affecting our earth, these rare displays are likely to become even more scarce.

According to the National Park Service, a good wildflower year depends largely on these three things:

  • Well-spaced rainfall throughout the winter and spring
  • Sufficient warmth from the sun
  • Lack of drying winds (Especially true in desert environments)

Know Before You Go

One of the biggest threats to wildflowers during significant blooms is humans. In our excitement and carelessness, tourists disturb delicate terrain and flowers by venturing off of paths, trampling native plants, laying out blankets, and leaving behind trash. If you decide to visit a wildflower hotspot, please be extra mindful of protecting and preserving the landscapes.

Consider not traveling to bloom regions where you are seeing lots of coverage on social media, which may include some of the regions listed below. Many Instagram photos in the same location probably mean the local town and environment are already being overrun by people. I’ve tried to include some lesser-known wildflower hotspots below, but in the internet age, there are few kept secrets. If we are to continue enjoying super blooms in the future, we must do all we can to protect our fragile native flowers when they are in bloom.

Wildflower Blooms by Month

Depending on which part of the state you’re in, wildflowers will come and go at different parts of the year. Wildflowers will bloom and die much sooner in the desert than in the mountain landscapes, so be sure to plan accordingly. No matter when or how you do it, the most important thing is to simply get out and (responsibly) enjoy nature!

Mid February to Mid April

Where: Lower elevations, deserts and foothills.

Wildflowers: Desert Gold (Geraea canescens), Notch-leaved phacelia (Phacelia crenulata), Caltha-leaved Phacelia (Phacelia calthifolia), Golden Evening Primrose (Camissonia brevipes), Gravel Ghost (Atrichoseris platyphylla), Bigelow Monkeyflower (Mimulus bigelovii), Desert Five-spot (Eremalche rotundifolia)

Early April to Early May

Where: 3000 to 5000 feet elevations, upper desert slopes, canyons, higher valleys

Wildflowers: Desert Dandelion (Malacothrix glabrata), Brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), Desert Princes’ Plume (Stanleya pinnata), Desert Paintbrush (Castilleja chromosa), Fremont Phacelia (Phacelia fremontii), Mojave Aster (Xyloriza tortifolia), Bigelow’s Coreopsis (Coreopsis bigelovii), Indigo Bush (Psorothamnus arborescens), Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Early May to Mid July

Where: 5000 to 11,000 feet elevation on mountain slopes, pinyon pine/juniper woodlands

Wildflowers: Desert Mariposa (Calochortus kennedyi), Purple Sage (Salvia dorrii), Rose Sage (Salvia pachyphylla), Panamint Beardtongue (Penstemon floridus), Magnificent Lupine (Lupinus magnificus), Inyo Lupine (Lupinus excubitus)

Wildflower Hunting Tips

  • Bring a California Wildflower Field Guide. There are many different versions that can be found online or at a local bookstore. Taking the time to identify and study the natural flora in detail will make your experience that much more memorable.
  • Snap pics. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, but getting that perfect Instagram pic is crucial.
  • Get the timing right. Wildflowers are likely to bloom earlier in years when there is little rainfall. Check in with the agencies managing the natural areas you are hoping to visit before you head out!
  • Look, but don’t touch. You may be tempted to bring back a couple of flowers as souvenirs, but if everyone did that, there would be nothing left to see! Leave the flowers undisturbed for the bumblebees, butterflies, and future sight-seers.
  • Stay on the paths, and as with any nature outing, be sure to leave no trace!

Northern California Super Blooms

Eastern Sierras

In most of these areas, blooming occurs from late May to July. Among many others, you may see orange tiger lilies, yellow mule ears, scarlet gilia, blue lupine, purple wild iris, and rosy desert peach.

McGee Creek by Crowley Lake

Take the McGee Creek exit off of Highway 395, approximately six miles north of Tom’s Place or eight miles south of the Highway 203 exit. This road is narrow and winding and will lead you to a parking lot at the end of the road. To catch more beautiful blooms, follow the McGee Creek Trail, with mountainous views and many native flowers.

Little Antelope Valley Pack Station

Take Golden Gate Road to the station. You can find fields blooming with wild mustard, mule ears, lupines, and wild iris.

Bridgeport Valley/Bodie Hills

From Highway 395, 7 miles south of Bridgeport, take the Bodie Road (Highway 270) east for 13 miles toward Bodie State Historic Park. There is a multitude of beautiful flora that can be found here, including Townsend daisy and limestone aster. Blooms of white and blue lupine, Anderson’s larkspur, yellow hawksbeard, and Coville’s phlox come later in Bodie Hills.

For more flower hotspots in Bodie Hills, try meandering down Geiger Grade Road, heading north out of Bodie State Historic Park. In Bridgeport Valley, you can discover fields of wild iris and lupine in mid-to-late June.

Tioga Pass Road

Just before the entrance to Yosemite National Park, the short Nunatak Nature Trail and Bennettville Trail offers displays of subalpine flowers that have adapted to survive in somewhat harsh conditions. Some of these plants include rock cress, whitlow grass, and shield leaf rodgersia. Other wildflower species you may see are red and white heather, penstemon, crowded lupine, ground-level carpets of dwarf bilberry, and Labrador tea shrub.

For more wildflower hotspots in this region, check out this free PDF: Wildflower Hot Spots of the Eastern Sierra.

Folsom Lake – Beeks Bight

Folsom Lake is home to huge swaths of blue lupines. From mid-April to early May, you can find fields upon fields of these gorgeous flowers. Get there by going to the Beeks Bight parking lot and taking a stroll. You can’t miss them!

Directions

Lake Tahoe

Blooming in the higher altitudes occurs from late April to July, but in years with little rain, flowers may bloom earlier in the season. In Lake Tahoe, you may find white phlox, Mariposa lily, yellow plantain buttercup, blue lupine, bright-red snow plant, Indian paintbrush, and lacy pussypaws.

Big Meadow Trailhead

About 1.5 miles into the Big Meadow trail, you will find a large meadow that is usually abundant with alpine wildflowers. For a full-day hike, continue on the trail to Dardanelles Lake (an 8-mile journey).

Galena Falls

As you start your hike to the falls, you should begin to see wildflowers within the first mile. For a longer hike, loop back on the maintenance road (5 miles) or make your way up to the summit of Mount Rose (10 miles).

Winnemucca Lake + Meiss Lake

Winnemucca Lake, near Kirkwood, is a well-known spot for wildflower sightseeing because of the rich volcanic soil that supports spectacular alpine blooms. It is a moderate 5-mile hike to reach the lake, and you will pass by Frog Lake in the first mile.

Make your way along the Meiss Lake trailhead, located close to the summit of Highway 88 at Carson Pass, and walk about 2 miles to the Meiss family cabin, where you will find a colorful wildflower display.

Lake Forest Beach

Lake Forest Beach on the north shore is one of the best places to snap a photo of Lake Tahoe, with fields of buttercups and lupines covering the ground. The shore of this public beach will become blanketed in brilliant purple wildflowers, attracting photographers and wildflower seekers alike.

In years with little rain, the flowers may start blooming earlier in the season (late May or June). To get there, follow N. Lake Boulevard north towards Lake Forest, and turn right on Lake Forest Road. Turn right again onto Bristlecone Street, and parking along the road is free.

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Depending on snow-melt and rain levels, wildflowers will tend to bloom from late May through August throughout Lassen. Early in the blooming season, look for mountain mule’s ear, pussypaws, snow plant, and western wallflower, followed by corn lily and lupine. California corn lily and silverleaf lupine tend to bloom later. The National Park Service has put together a general schedule of when wildflowers bloom in various areas within Lassen.

Mount Diablo State Park

Blooming occurs from early March to May. Throughout the park, you may see blue skullcap, Fendler’s meadow-rue, Johnny jump up’s, bush lupine, monkey flowers, globe lilies, California poppies, bird’s eyes, and wallflowers. Check out this wildflower identification guide from the Mount Diablo Interpretive Association and this awesome What’s Blooming Now on Mount Diablo spreadsheet, which is updated regularly.

Donner Creek Loop Trail

This beautiful 5-mile loop is the number one pick for viewing wildflowers on AllTrails, and features mountain views and waterfalls galore, especially after a rain. Parking at the trailhead is for residents only, but paid parking is available at the nearby Mitchell Canyon Visitor Center for $6.

Mount Diablo Grand Loop Trail

Mount Diablo Grand Loop Trail is a difficult 6.8-mile loop trail that features beautiful wildflowers and sweeping views of the Bay Area (and beyond on clear days).

Secret Valley Loop

Secret Valley Loop trail is a moderate 6-mile loop near Walnut Creek that features beautiful wildflowers and views of Mt. Diablo, the East Bay, and Napa Valley.

For more trails in Mount Diablo State Park that feature wildflower hotspots, check out this list of trails on AllTrails.com.

Napa County

California super bloom napa county mustard

The rolling hills throughout Napa county offer ample opportunity to view wildflowers. Renowned for endless fields of yellow mustard, you can drive for miles and miles to view wildflowers among vineyards. This is a must-do and easy to find for anyone living near San Francisco.

More Creek Trail

This 7.1-mile hike in More Park, St. Helena takes you through a loop into a canyon absolutely rife with wildflowers. You’ll make about five creek crossings to find some unmatched beauty of Napa’s wine region beyond the grape.

Per the Napa Regional Park Page: The Moore Creek Fire Road is temporarily closed for user safety during trail construction. Redwood Trails Alliance is working on new trails in the area and there is high risk of falling rock on the fire road. The trail is only closed between the parking lot and the caretaker’s residence. Please use Valentine Vista Trail from the parking lot to access Dryfoot Trail and the trails beyond the ranch house.

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve

This expansive mesa formed by ancient lava flow located near Oroville attracts wildflower enthusiasts during the blooming season, from early March to mid-May. Among many others, you may see lupine, Foothill triteleia, Sierra primroses, blue dicks, and poppies. By early April, bright yellow Douglas’ violets will start to pop up in the grasslands, along with pale yellow daisies, white meadowfoam, and magenta shooting stars and buttercups. Other flower species present in the area include blue dicks, blue-and-white bird’s eye gilia, magenta Kellog’s monkeyflower, and purple owl’s clover.

The showy wildflowers are likely to come and go fast this year, so plan a trip soon! You will need to purchase a land pass for the day online before visiting. Official access is through a small parking lot on the west side of Cherokee Road. North Table Mountain is also renowned for its Phantom Falls hike, which is well worth trekking to view as well.

2024 Update: All the majestic waterfalls in North Table Mountain are currently in full flow, but the trails are somewhat muddy and slippery. As with most of the state, expect a great wildflower season beginning in early March. On the Phantom Falls Loop, you will likely find (soon) birds-eye gilia, frying pans, poppies, sky lupine, goldfields, white nemophila, yellow monkeyflowers, blue dicks, and redmaids. There are groups of California poppies on the northwest side of the loop by the ravine. Flowers should bloom through April.

For more information on the native wildflowers you can find on North Table Mountain Reserve, check out this great resource.

Pinnacles National Park

About 80 miles south of San Jose, this small but incredibly unique national park features geological wonders and an amazing display of wildflowers.

Depending on rainfall, blooming occurs from March to mid-May. Early bloomers include milkmaids, shooting stars, and Indian warriors. These are followed by California poppies, bush poppies, fiesta flowers, monkey flowers, baby blue eyes, bush lupine, clarkias, orchids, penstemon, and roses. In April, species such as Johnny jump up’s, virgin’s bower, gilia, suncups, chia, black sage, pitcher sage, larkspur, and bush lupine join the spectacular display of flowers that bloomed in March.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Point reyes beach from the lighthouse visitor's center.
Photo taken by Poppy in May 2004. Point Reyes Beach from the Lighthouse Visitor’s Center.

Just north of San Francisco, Point Reyes National Seashore is an ideal spot to take in both expansive ocean vistas and close-up wildflower displays. There are plenty of hikes that will take you through fields dotted with native flowers and along colorful ocean cliffsides. Because of the climate, you may be able to catch flowers in bloom from as early as February to as late as August. A few great locations to visit early in Spring include Abbotts Lagoon, Chimney Rock, and Tomales Point.

For more information on the wildflower species in Point Reyes, visit the Point Reyes National Seashore Wildflower Species List

Central California Super Blooms

Edison Point Wildlife Area / Pine Flat Lake

California super bloom edison point wildlife area pine flat lake 2024 04
Photo: Tina Miller, 2024

Edison Point Wildlife Area is about a 45 minute drive East of Fresno, where you will find blossoming orange poppies amongst the oak covered foothills of the Sierra Nevadas. Part of Pine Flat Lake, you can also camp or get a day use pass.

Google Maps | Camping

Southern California Super Blooms

Check out the latest report on the Theodore Payne Foundation Wildflower Hotline, which provides an in-depth look at which wildflowers are in bloom in Southern California as of 2024.

Antelope Valley State Park

Located 75 miles north of Los Angeles, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve has become famous for its rolling hills of poppies, painting the landscape with orange and yellow. One of my favorite things about visiting this park, is for miles in either direction you travel to get here, you can spot countless poppies along the drive.

The park itself has several loops you can walk along that span up to around 7 miles if you do them all. I like to do the side right of the visitor’s center, starting at the North trail which climbs up, then take the South trail back which is decent and fairly flat. This path takes you onwards to the left side of the visitor’s center, where you can cross a wooden bridge with some picturesque scenery and continue onto the remaining smaller loop.

Blooming starts around the middle to end of February and can last through May, with the peak bloom occurring from mid-March to mid-April. Poppies are the most predominant flower here, but they are accompanied by desert pincushion, blue dicks, California aster, blue lupin, yellow fiddlenecks, and pink filaree. There are currently sparsely populated blooms, with the potential for more with a significant amount of late-season rain.

For an up-to-date flower watch, this Live Poppy Feed shows you what’s currently in bloom.

2024 Update: There are no poppies currently in bloom. Look for updates as we get closer to spring!

Montaña de Oro State Park

Montaña de oro, spooner's cove
Photo by: Tangy-Finance12, Northward view of Spooner’s Cove via Bluff Trail, with Morro Bay in the distance.

Located just west of San Luis Obispo along the coast, Montaña de Oro State Park offers pristine beaches, rugged cliffs, coastal plains, and hillsides covered in poppies. Montaña de oro translates to mountain of gold, named after the California poppies that emerge in spring. Other wildflowers that bloom in the area include lupines, sticky monkey flowers, wild radish, and mustard. There are plenty of scenic trails to explore in the park, many of which feature wildflowers.

The Montaña de Oro Bluff trail is a 4-mile loop that meanders along ocean bluffs and is known for gorgeous displays of California poppies in the spring. This trail will also bring you to one of the most popular beaches, Spooner’s Cove. You will also catch some wildflowers blooming along the 4.4-mile out-and-back Valencia Peak trail, which brings you to the top of the 1,347-foot coastal mountain. According to hikers, wildflowers have begun to bloom in the park (as of February 21), and will likely continue blooming through May.

Anza-Borrego State Park / Anza Borrego Super Bloom

Located in the Colorado Desert, this large state park comes alive with an amazing display of wildflowers from mid-February to mid-May. The wildflowers you may see include desert marigold, desert lily, sand verbena, desert sunflower, apricot mallow, desert five-spot, Orcutt’s woody aster, and blooming cacti. While you will not see an abundant bloom this year, the park’s canyon trails feature a variety of natural blooms.

As of February 2024, patches of wildflowers have begun to bloom within the park, including the stunning desert lily! Learn more about potential wildflower hotspots in this overview of Anza-Borrego State Park.

For more current updates on wildflowers in the park, visit DesertUSA and the Anza-Borrego State Park Facebook Page.

Channel Islands National Park

Over 800 plant species begin to bloom on the five Channel Islands from mid-February to mid-May. Due to microclimates and the distance each island is from the shore, each island supports a unique array of flora. The vibrant yellow coreopsis begins blooming on Anacapa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel Islands in January and usually lasts through March. San Miguel is also home to lupine and poppies, while Anacapa features red Indian paintbrush and island morning glory. Santa Barbara Island blossoms with lavender chicory and pale-yellow cream cups, and the elusive is only found on Santa Rosa Island.

For current wildflower updates and information, visit the Theodore Payne Wildflower Hotline. Reports for the 2024 wildflower season will resume in March.

Mojave National Preserve

For a full list of flora that you may be able to witness in the Mojave desert, visit DesertUSA’s desert plant page.

Cima Cinder Cones (Mid to late March) – Purple mat, woolly daisy, Bigelow mimulus, brown-eyed primrose, desert dandelion, fiddleneck, lilac sunbonnet, little gold poppy, desert sunflower, Anderson lycium, ratany, bladderpod, desert mallow, desert trumpet, Mojave aster.

From the NPS: “If rain has fallen on the cinder cones and lava beds, hundreds of tiny Biglow monkeyflowers lend a purple cast to the dark volcanic soil. Locals call these “belly flowers,” as they are best photographed lying down! With a high-clearance vehicle, you can also visit a lava tube cave. Bring a flashlight for this activity.”

Cima Dome and Mid Hills Campground (Mid to late April) – Desert marigold, yellow throats, white tidy tips, groundsel, chia, locoweed, rattlesnake weed, turpentine broom, palmer penstemon, goldenbush, Indian paintbrush, and Mojave sage

High Peaks (Early May) – Hoary aster, groundsel, California chicory, Pringle eriophyllum, golden gilia, Apache plume, serviceberry, heliotrope, long-leaf phlox, piñon aster, yellow cut-leaf, banana yucca, and giant four-o’clock

Hole-in-the-Wall (Late March to early April) – desert tobacco, forget-me-not, Fremont pincushion, white-stemmed stick-leaf, Mojave horsebrush, desert alyssum, windmills, and prince’s plume.

From the NPS: “If you are looking for flowers in late April and May, visit Hole-in-the-Wall. A profusion of desert globemallow and verbena often covers an area that burned in a massive wildfire in 2005. This is the best area for hikers, with trails leading past petroglyphs, through cactus and yucca gardens, and into Banshee Canyon, where you’ll discover the holes of Hole-in-the Wall.”

Kelso Dunes (Late March to early April) – Borrego locoweed, dune primrose, sand verbena, wooly marigold, silk dalea, spectacle pod, dune lily

Von Trigger Hills and Piute Range (Late March to early April) – Canterbury bells, notch-leaved phacelia, stellate gilia, sand blazing star, Mariposa lily, and desert senna

Wildflowers have also been spotted emerging around the Amboy Crater along Route 66. Check here for further information as spring draws near.

Joshua Tree

Although Joshua Tree is a desert, there are plenty of opportunities to witness gorgeous desert flowers bloom in a year with good rainfall. The National Park Service says this about catching wildflowers in bloom: “Wildflowers may begin blooming in the lower elevations of the Pinto Basin and along the park’s south boundary in February, and at higher elevations in March and April. Desert regions above 5,000 feet may have plants blooming as late as June.”

If we continue to receive good rainfall, you may be able to see desert flowers such as brittlebush, dandelions, monkey flowers, and desert Lupine. Visitors have also reported seeing wildflowers growing near Hidden valley, Belle and Ryan campgrounds.

As we get closer to spring, stay up to date on the wildflower status on Joshua Tree’s Wildflower Watch site.

Death Valley National Park

A super bloom in the desert can be a sight to behold, but this year we are most likely in for a sparse wildflower display. Because of the dry conditions this year, your safest bet when searching for wildflowers will be in the higher elevations. Blooming occurs between mid-February to mid-July throughout Death Valley, with lower elevations blooming first (if at all), followed by higher elevation flora later.

Mid-Feb to Mid-April: In the foothills and at lower elevations you may see desert Gold, Phacelia species, Golden Evening Primrose, Gravel Ghost, Bigelow Monkeyflower, and Desert Five-spot. 

Early April to Early May: At mid-level elevations (3000 to 5000 ft.) and in canyons, you may find Desert Dandelion, Brittlebush, Desert Paintbrush, Fremont Phacelia, Mojave Aster, Bigelow’s Coreopsis, Indigo Bush, and Desert Globemallow.  

Early May to Mid-July: At high elevations (5000 to 11,000 ft.) and on mountain slopes, you may find Desert Mariposa, Purple Sage, Rose Sage, Panamint, Magnificent Lupine, and Inyo Lupine.

You might also want to read: Visiting Lake Manly in Badwater Basin, Death Valley National Park

Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area

California super bloom, figueroa mountain 2005
Photo by: Doc Searls from Santa Barbara, USA

Located in the Los Padres National Forest, and 30 minutes north of Los Olivos, the Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area often puts on a fantastic display of wildflowers. In addition to being able to see the colorful array of flowers, you will be able to see panoramic views of the San Rafael Wilderness and the Santa Ynez Valley.

Blooming occurs on the mountain between mid-February and mid-May. In March, you may see purple shooting stars, followed by chocolate lilies, and scarlet Indian paintbrush. In the grassland areas, you can find goldfields, sky lupine, and California poppy. Other wildflowers present include pitcher sage, blue dicks, wild hyacinth, shooting stars, buttercups, milkmaids, Johnny-jump-ups, purple fiesta flowers, and popcorn flowers.

Shell Creek Road Meadows