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A Guide for California Wildflower Lovers

Apr 04, 2011 by Lisa Newton

Every year, many of California’s State Parks become a land of beauty and wonder.

With over 6,000 native plants and wildflower species, Springtime is the time they bloom in full blown color.

Not sure where to find these beauties?

No worries!

The California State Parks (PDF) have helped you find the place that’s right for you:

  • Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Located East of San Diego–via Highways 78 and 79, in Imperial, San Diego, and Riverside Counties–the Anza Borrego Foundation, will be having upcoming wildflower events.  Wildflowers are currently being reported in many areas of the park, which can be seen on a map (PDF).
  • Andrew Molera State Park: Located 21 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, in Monterey County, features a variety of springtime flowers. The park’s phone number is (831) 667-2315.
  • Antelope Valley is California’s Poppy ReserveLocated 15 miles west of Lancaster, in Los Angeles County, it’s a reserve which features its best blooming period in April–depending on the weather and rain.

    For more information, call the poppy reserve’s hotline at (661) 724-1180 or the Theodore Payne Foundation Wildflower Hotline.

  • Azalea State ReserveLocated five miles north of Arcata in Humboldt County, preserves outstanding examples of azaleas, which generally bloom annually during April and May. This reserve has both a parking lot and trails. 
  • Big Basin Redwoods State ParkLocated in Santa Cruz and San Mateo Counties also features Wildflowers. For more information, call (831) 338-8860 or (831) 427-2288.
  • Garrapata State ParkLocated 6.7 miles south of Rio Road, in Carmel, Monterey County, features the Soberanes canyon/ridge trail that winds through meadows, a riparian zone, a lovely redwood grove and an exposed coastal ridge.

    On certain sections of this trail, visitors can feel that they’re swimming through flowers, which ncludes Shooting Stars, Johnny Jump Ups, Blue Dicks, Golden Buttercup, Elegant Clarkia, Goldfields, Douglas Iris, Checkerbloom, Star Zygadine, Fushia-flowered Gooseberry, Trillium, Tidy Tips, Footsteps of Spring and a fantastic variety of Bush Lupine.

    Visitors can also encounter the more common Monkey Flower, Seaside Painted Cups, Coyote Brush, Lizard Tail Yarrow, Mock Heather and regular Poppies.

  • Humboldt Redwoods State ParkLocated 20 miles north of Garberville in Humboldt Redwoods State Park, provides excellent displays of wallflowers along the Avenue of the Giants.

    Visitors will find Humboldt Lilies and orchids from late March to April, and Dogwood into April to early May, depending on the spring weather. For more information call the park’s visitor center at (707) 946-2263.

  • Calaveras Big Trees State ParkLocated four miles north east of Arnold, on Highway 4, in Calaveras and Tuolomne Counties, this big Tree State Park is known for its wildflowers during June–especially along the Lava Bluffs Trail. Their park phone number is (209) 795-2334.
  • Carmel River State BeachThis park can be reached from Highway 1 in Carmel. Wildflowers abound along the bluff’s trail. The park’s phone number is (831) 624-4909.
  • Castle Crags State ParkCastle Crags State Park has a variety of wildflowers in the spring. Their park phone number is (530) 235-2684.
  • Del Norte Coast Redwoods State ParkDel Norte Coast Redwoods State Park has magnificent displays of rhododendrons, that can be seen from the highway as well as the numerous roadside turnouts throughout April and May; depending on the spring weather. For more information call the Redwood National and State Park information center at (707) 464-6101, extension 5064.
  • The Henry W. Coe State ParkLocated in the mountains–south and east of San Jose in Santa Clara and Stanislaus Counties–is a wonderful place to see spring wildflowers.

    Early in the year, visitors will be able to see white milkmaids, blue hounds tongue, or yellow buttercups. As spring progresses, the flowers become more numerous with goldfields, owls clover, butter and eggs, columbine, delphinium, and many other species.

    Visitors might even get lucky and see the charming tiny purple mouse ears. The park’s phone number is (408) 779-2728.

  • McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State ParkLocated 11 miles northeast off Burney, on Highway 89 in Shasta County, features a variety of wildflowers in the Spring. Their park phone number is (530) 335-2777.
  • Millerton Lake State Recreation AreaLocated 20 miles northeast of Fresno and Madera Counties, features spring flowers on its Blue Oak Trails.

    Visitors who enjoy a strenuous hike on the Buzzards Roost Trail, can also find spring flowers here as well. The park’s phone number is (559) 822-2332.

  • Montaña de Oro State ParkLocated seven miles south of Los Osos on Pecho Valley Road, in San Luis Obispo County, features hills covered with poppies, lupines, sticky monkey flowers, wild radishes and mustard.The best time to visit is during April and May. For more information call (805) 528-0513.
  • Mount Tamalpais State Parklocated North of San Francisco’s Golden Gate in Marin County, features spectacular and easily-accessed wildflowers every spring.

    Visitors can get to the park from Highway 101, and then take Highway 1 to the Stinson Beach exit, and then follow the signs to the mountain. The park’s phone number is (415) 388-2070.

  • Olompali State Historic ParkLocated three miles north of Novato,is located on U.S. 101 in Marin County, features spectacular and easily-accessed wildflowers each spring. Its entrance is accessible only to southbound traffic from Highway 101. The park’s phone number is (415) 892-3383.

Now all you have to do is plan the time and visit the parks and go. And, don’t forget your camera!

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Parks, Recreation, SoCal

One Response to “A Guide for California Wildflower Lovers”

  1. O. Bisogno Scotti says:

    I can’t wait to get started!


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