California is gearing up for another big year for wildflowers, and the wildflower bloom has officially begun.
An unusually wet winter in the state’s desert regions usually predicts a big bloom in the later part of the winter through the spring and already, the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Death Valley and Joshua Tree National Park have begun seeing flowers spring up and hillsides near Riverside, California, are already carpeted with yellow poppies.
The parks are gearing up to welcome the thousands of visitors that are likely to pour in over the next several weeks to see the flowers paint the desert with vivid colors from sand verbena, desert sunflower, evening primrose, popcorn flowers or desert lilies.
The key to a “super bloom” is steady yet not-too-heavy rainfall in desert regions not accustomed to wet weather, according to Mark Mendelsohn, a biologist with the National Park Service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
“Many deserts are soaked and there is now a much greater chance for a ‘super bloom,’ especially those areas that received high rainfall totals,” Mendelsohn told Newsweek.
The last time California experienced a super bloom was in 2017. In fact, both 2016 and 2017 were record years for wildflowers.
Anza-Borrego State Park is one of the best places to view the bloom, and park rangers have provided tips for those heading out to see the flowers:
—Cell coverage can be spotty or nonexistent in some parks – be prepared.
—Read about your state park destination online and download a map prior to your visit, especially if you are visiting a desert. Many GPS and map apps will take you to dirt roads requiring 4-wheel drive vehicles.
—Check weather conditions. Be prepared and plan for all types of weather.
Bring plenty of food and water. There are often no restaurants, gasoline stations or stores near the bloom areas.
—Visit the parks during the week and arrive early to beat the crowds.
—Outdoor conditions can change quickly, especially in the desert. Bring sunscreen, a hat, layers of clothing and closed-toed shoes to avoid injury.
—When viewing the blooms, take only pictures. Flower picking is prohibited.
—Leave an itinerary of your trip with a family member or friend with information such as time of departure and expected return, site visit location, and names of everyone in your group. This will ensure law enforcement personnel have a better understanding of your location in the event of a rescue.