It's rare to witness a scene as beautiful as a superbloom. It's such a delight—all those mood-boosting, energy-sparking colors and hues. With memories of 2023's super bloom still fresh, officials from California State Parks suggest we're in for another treat this year. And it may even outshine the previous super bloom.

Super blooms, when flower blossoms burst to life en masse, are a relatively rare floral phenomenon, even in places renowned for vibrant native wildflowers. But after another winter of heavy rain, California’s desert landscapes are again expected to burst into brilliant carpets of color this spring. 

Park officials have said that this season is expected to be "impressive" and could top last year's super bloom, which was the first the state had experienced in four years.

California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) and Chia (Salvia hispanica) blooming on the hills of Walker Canyon during the superbloom
California poppies and chia blooming on the hills of Walker Canyon during a superbloom in Lake Elsinore © Getty Images

Where can I view super blooms this year?

Several parks, including Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego County, are highlighted as prime locations. Individual poppies are already starting to bloom there and should stick around until at least mid-May if the weather doesn't shift to warmer and drier days. The same goes for Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, where early bloomers like primrose, phacelia, and woolly sunflower have already been spotted.

Other parks expected to put on a good show include Red Rock Canyon State Park, Fort Tejon State Historic Park and Chino Hills State Park at the foot of the Santa Ana Mountains. 

Officials say it is impossible to predict precisely where, when, and if wildflowers will bloom elsewhere this year. Cold weather or a hot spell could halt an intense bloom. Some displays might be modest if they do occur, while others could be over as quickly as they began—as in Death Valley National Park, where most wildflowers are referred to as “ephemerals” because they are so short-lived.

A wide-angle macro shot of some fresh morning wildflowers
Wildflowers are extremely fragile © Getty Images

"If the weather remains mild, the bloom is expected to be better this year compared to last year. If the weather turns hot, this could affect the bloom in the next few months," a California State Park representative explained.

Super blooms traditionally occur in desert areas of California, Nevada and Arizona but are not exclusive to these regions. Drought-free winters often lead to wildflowers emerging across the United States, from deserts in February to alpine areas into fall. 

Poppy field in Antelope Valley
A zesty-colored poppy field in Antelope Valley © Getty Images

How to view super blooms responsibly

Viewing superblooms responsibly is crucial. Previous blooms have seen large influxes of visitors, leading to road closures, traffic jams, and habitat damage. In Los Angeles, shuttle busses were deployed in Lake Elsinore during 2019’s super bloom to manage traffic. Some parks reported habitat damage from people going off trail to take photos—trampling on fields and flowers in search of the perfect shot, and pulling up wildflowers to create bouquets and crowns. In 2017, Diamond Valley Lake in Riverside County was forced to close trails temporarily due to wildflower losses.

While many wildflower tourists are well-behaved, California State Parks is again asking for help protecting these unique natural resources, especially when the state sees significant blooming.

Tourists disrespecting signs and posing by a 'Please Stay Off' sign with the poppies at Walker Canyon during the super bloom.
What not to do: tourists disrespecting signs and posing by a “Please Stay Off” sign with the poppies at Walker Canyon during 2019’s super bloom © melissamn / Shutterstock

“In recent years, California has been lucky to see spectacular wildflower blooms in many public lands, including in state parks,” said State Parks Director Armando Quintero. “We welcome all Californians and visitors from around the world to experience this natural phenomenon and ask all to keep the ‘Beauty in the Bloom’ by staying on designated trails and taking only photos, not flowers.”

California State Park's website provides detailed information, safety tips, and predictions on where super blooms will occur this year. You can also see real-time bloom conditions via the PoppyCam live feed.

Ready to plan your trip to California? Here are your next steps:

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Know these 11 things before you go to California

This article was first published February 2019 and updated March 2024

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