California Bloom of the Decade

For dozens of years, the thirsty deserts lay waiting for rain. As drought set in, fires ravaged the parched forests but the desert just waited for the pernicious El Nino weather patterns to shift back. Only through recent climatology study, have we seen the profound effect of El Nino droughts from sparking the French Revolution to spawning the dust bowls of America’s Great Depression. In California, it was visible in dry, parched earth. In 2017, the rains finally came and with it, the bloom of the decade.

As the blooms erupted, amateur and professional photographers took to the hills to capture the cavalcade of color. We did our part too, but the more pictures we took, the more we realized the extent of what we were witnessing. The bloom of the decade couldn’t be captured by a single lens. Instead, we are providing our pictures from California’s epic wildflower season along with highlights from some of our favorites artists. Without further ado, here are the pictures sorted by location.

La Jolla Gliderport

Long considered a photographic hotspot, this year the flowers add something extra to the sweeping panoramic shots of hang gliders with the backdrop of La Jolla behind them.

La Jolla Coast Walk

The Coast Walk connects La Jolla Shores with La Jolla Cove but best of all, it’s all oceanfront hiking. The epic bloom adds that extra je nes se qua to the blue backdrop of La Jolla Shores

La Jolla Cove / Scripps Park

Most people think of La Jolla Cove in the spring as a breading ground for baby seals and sea lions. It is and they are darn cute. It’s also home to baby kormoran and presumably brown pelicans as well. This spring, there were wildflowers to boot.

San Diego River Valley

We selected two spots along the San Diego River to shoot. The first was at the mouth of the river as it emptied into the ocean. The second was along Via Las Cumbres as it climbed out of the valley. I am sure there are plenty of beautiful scenes like this in every side canyon and field along the river this year.

The Slot, Borrego Springs

For some reason this came up as the best wildflower hike in Borrego. It was a cool, two mile loop through a slot canyon but the wildflowers, even in an epic year, were simply icing on the slot canyon cake.

Palm Canyon, Borrego Springs

Borrego State Park had a feeling that bloomagedon was coming and boy did it come. Photographers descended on the park in mass to capture the mass of blooms. Borrego Springs is the largest state park in the contiguous US but the flowers tend to mass at the base of the mountains along side streams. Borrego Springs began in the 30’s to protect this desert oasis and it’s still the crown jewel of the park. Water and wildflowers amped this up 10 fold. The 2.8 mile loop hike was filled to capacity when we went.

Palm Oasis, Borrego Springs

At the end of Palm Canyon is the oasis itself. The wildflowers add that extra little punch to the water filled wonderland. Too bad we missed out on the bighorn sheep coming down for a drink.

Chino Hills State Park

“This year has been such a great year for rain that the waterfalls were flowing and now the wildflowers are blooming. I had heard on the SoCal Hikers Forum that they were pretty impressive in Chino Hills State Park, so I set out to check it out for myself. It was even better than I anticipated, only a short quarter mile from the start of the Bane Ridge Trail.” – Josh from California Through My Lens

Walker Canyon, Lake Elsinore

Tee from thatsitla.com opens with “Every year I wish for a “superbloom”! But with the ongoing draught it seemed my dream went from bloom to gloom.” She got her wish this year. Since she is in LA, she had an alternative suggestion from Borrego for wildflower watching – “If you can’t decide where to go, I would suggest a drive to Lake Elsinore and soon. The flowers are easy to locate and it’s a reasonable drive versus Anza Borrego which is 3+ hours from Los Angeles.”

Torrey Pines State Park

“There’s another bloom in town… it may not be as spectacular as the Anza Borrego wildflower “superbloom” this year, but it’s quite a treat for the eyes nevertheless: plenty of wildflowers are in bloom right now at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – more than I have ever seen there!

The ocean-facing side of the Guy Fleming Trail is particularly nice, where plenty of California Poppies and Common Phacelia create this striking color combination of orange and purple” – Alexander Kunz.

Stray Shots and Passing Thoughts

We wanted to include a few more pictures before we left of an unique view of wildflowers from Mt Soledad with the marine layer at sunset (thank you Evgeny Yorobe) and one more Borrego Springs shot by Tami of Postcards and Passports and our shot from Torrey Pines. Also, a shout out to Cat from For Two Please who included our whale watching in the Baja experience in her article – Greatest Adventures Around the World for Adrenaline Junkies.

We are reaching the bitter end of the wildflower season in So-cal so call before you head out. There is still epic snow pack in the Sierras so the summer wildflower season could be just as spectacular. I am sure this is an incomplete list so if you think I have left something out, hit me up in the comments and we’ll get it included.

 

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