Biologists at the University of California-Riverside are anticipating a spring more full of desert blooms than usual in California. This year’s so-called “Super Bloom” is likely to hit due to the recent wet winter following the state’s multi-year drought.
“Seeds stored in the desert sands for 5, 10, or even 30 years have responded to the wetter-than-average conditions creating carpets of yellow, white, and purple flowers,” says Cameron Barrows, an associate research ecologist in the Center for Conservation Biology. “The bloom has begun, but will likely continue for the next weeks with waves of new color as each species takes its turn.”
The best place to see Super Bloom in action is Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs — where Dune Verbena, Desert Lilies, and Desert Sunflowers are already transforming the desert floor into a tapestry of purple petals.
The park is a two-hour drive from San Diego. To avoid afternoon heat that looms in the 80s and tops out in the 90s (this is a desert after all), leave early and catch the Super Bloom in the morning hours before the flowers are caught in direct sunlight.
There are 630,000 acres in the park to explore — with borders stretching from the Riverside County line to the Mexican border in eastern San Diego County — so you don’t have to worry about running out of real estate as the crowds come in. But if you don’t want to tiptoe through the tulips with a bunch of other folks, park officials suggest making your visit mid-week.
And while the blooms are already in (super) full force, don’t fret if you can’t make it out to Anza-Borrego today. The spectacle should last into early April, and if you change elevation, you can extend the season. “The flowers will begin blooming at increasingly higher elevations, ensuring colors across our otherwise brown desert landscape for the next month or more,” Barrows says.