10 Essential California Wildflower Locations

10 Essential California Wildflower Locations

1. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Named after the town's most famous residents, Borrego means 'bighorn sheep' in Spanish. The town is an International Dark Sky Community, one of only a few in the country, making it the perfect place to watch the stars and a meteor shower. If winter rains allow, springtime brings the most stunning desert bloom on the continent with miles of explosive bloom.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Wildflowers

2. Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve is a park in Riverside County on the edge of the Santa Ana Mountains. The plateau preserves native plants, vernal pools, Engelmann oaks and the historic Moreno and Machado Adobes built in 1846. In the springtime, wildflowers surround the winding trails whose hills turn brilliant shades of green. The geology of the plateau contains rich volcanic history which created a landscape that has looked the same for millions of years.

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve Wildflowers

3. Diamond Valley Lake

Diamond Valley Lake is a manmade reservoir completed in 1999 after 4 years of construction and is one of the largest and newest in the state. The lake also serves as a recreational hub for boating, fishing and hiking along its surrounding hills. If the perfect amount of winter rain falls, the hills turn into a wildflower wonderland in time for Spring.

Diamond Valley Lake Wildflowers

4. Chino Hills State Park

Chino Hills State Park is a 14,000 acre park located in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Tongva-Gabrieliño Native Americans used the chaparral and woodland-covered hills to gather acorns and berries. If winter rains cooperate, the hills turn brilliant shades of green and are covered in wildflowers in Spring.

Chino Hills State Park Wildflowers

5. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is a Spring wildflower showstopper. Located in the Mojave Desert outside of Los Angeles, poppies carpet rolling hills to create a stunning mirage of orange. Bloom is generally February through May though can vary each season depending on winter rains.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve Wildflowers

6. Red Rock Canyon State Park

Red Rock Canyon State Park features a series of dramatic cliffs and rock formations in the Mojave Desert. The park preserves 27,000 acres and has been featured in many Hollywood Films. Kawaiisu Native Americans have lived here for thousands of years and used the colorful canyons as a meeting place for their trade route.

Red Rock Canyon State Park Wildflowers

7. Wind Wolves Preserve

Wind Wolves Preserve is the largest non-profit preserve on the west coast at 93,000 acres. The Transverse & Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley all meet to create one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the country. Visit in the Spring when the golden hills turn a brilliant green and burst with wildflowers.

Wind Wolves Preserve Wildflowers

8. Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area

Figueroa Mountain is a Recreation Area north of Santa Barbara in Los Padres National Forest. Spring is the best time to visit when the hills and mountains put on the most stunning wildflower displays in California. Grass Mountain can become completely covered in poppies it looks orange from miles away and views from the top stretch across the Santa Ynez Valley all the way to the ocean. Whether hiking the many trails or enjoying a scenic drive, Figueroa Mountain will be an unforgettable experience.

Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area Wildflowers

9. Carrizo Plain National Monument 

Carrizo Plain National Monument is a true wilderness experience in California's Great Central Valley. More than 200,000 acres of untouched beauty reveal what the entire valley looked like long before development. Beautiful grassland plains hug rolling hills blanketed by a rainbow of wildflowers in the Spring. 

Carrizo Plain National Monument Wildflowers

10. Montaña de Oro State Park

Montaña de Oro State Park is the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Southern California. Stunning sea stacks with crashing waves will leave you breathless while the surrounding mountains turn golden with poppies in the Spring giving it the iconic name 'Mountain of Gold'. 

Montaña de Oro State Park Wildflowers