Wildflowers Springtime brings carpets of colorful spring blooms to large areas of California. Many of these areas are relatively unknown, visited by only a select few during the peak of color.
The wildflower season generally starts with an early spring in the desert regions of southern California and works its way northward. When the wildflower seasons occur, and how lush they are, depends on the weather and can vary widely from year to year.
You can view or print this PDF file (65 kilobytes) listing the "usual" peak blooming periods for California desert wildflowers - but:
To avoid disappointment, obtain the latest information from the BLM California Field Office that manages the area you want to visit and/or check the wildflower links on the right side of this page.
These are some prime wildflower-viewing areas on public lands managed by BLM California, arranged from south to north:
Desert in bloom - spring wildflowers bloom in the Eastern Mojave Desert. Blooms on a beavertail cactus, lupine blooming along a roadway, brittlebrush against a mountain backdrop -- these are some of the sights a visitor can expect, depending on how wet or dry the winter season has been. Plants in this area that may produce blooms include desert marigold, sand verbena, desert primrose, globemallow, desert sunflower and milvetch. For more information, contact the Needles Field Office.
March is a wonderful time to see the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument in bloom. Join us for guided tours through the Monument and other events. For more information, contact the Palm Springs- South Coast Field Office at (760) 833- 7100 or the Visitor Center in Palm Desert at (760) 862-9984.
Western Mojave Desert includes wildflower-rich areas managed by the Ridgecrest and Barstow Field Offices - "To the casual observer, the Western Mojave Desert may appear to be a barren and lifeless wasteland. However, below the surface, a vast seedbank of annual wildflower seeds lay dormant waiting for just the right weather conditions to germinate and paint the desert in a riot of color." Best viewing is usually mid-March to mid-April, but it all depends on weather. For more information, contact the Ridgecrest Field Office or the Barstow Field Office.
Springtime wildflower viewing in the Eastern Sierra is as varied as the topography of the "eastside." Plants begin blooming around the beginning of April with the first pink flowers of the desert peach gracing the hillside. The Volcanic tablelands can radiate swathes of yellow and fuschia from the venus blazing star and purple mat, while the Alabama Hills host fragrant field of evening snow interspersed by scarlet locoweed and yellow pillows of a belly flower named Easter bonnets. For more information, contact the Bishop Field Office.
San Joaquin River Gorge, Madera County - "The northern portion of the trail makes a six-mile loop which takes one into the chaparral clothed uplands where they will encounter mountain lilac (ceanothus), manzanita, mountain mahogany, and many other shrubs and annual wildflowers." Also see wildflowers of the San Joaquin River Gorge for photos and descriptions. For more information, contact the Bakersfield Field Office.
Carrizo Plain - "...can be one of the most beautiful wildflower viewing areas in California. The arrival of spring generally occurs from February through May, and many times the Carrizo Plain comes alive with wildflowers. Many factors, including temperature and rainfall, determine which species bloom and their distribution in any given season." For more information, contact the Bakersfield Field Office for more information.
Lands managed by the Hollister Field Office - "The wildflower season is short but spectacular, particularly ... along the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The BLM manages several large blocks of public land in the Valley, including the Panoche, Tumey, and Ciervo Hills. If you are fortunate, you might see the federally listed California jewelflower, San Joaquin wooly-star and San Joaquin wooly-threads, all found in the San Joaquin Valley. More common are the mariposa lily, purple owl's clover, indian paintbrush and the yucca. For more information, contact the Hollister Field Office for more information.
The Merced River "is a very special place for viewing wildflowers. A most spectacular display can be seen during the spring and summer months. For those less inclined to hike, the river can be accessed by car along a six-mile BLM road ... beyond the campgrounds, only pedestrians, equestrians, and bicycles can continue along the ungroomed 18-mile river trail." Red Hills Area of Critical Environmental Concern - "The Vegetation of the Red Hillls is unique. The assemblage of plant species found there, including 7 rare plants, occurs nowhere else in the world. In the early spring the seemingly barren hills turn yellow, white, lavender and pink, with a spectacular wildflower display..." Rare plants of Pine Hill Preserve - Loss of habitat is the most significant factor that puts that the Pine Hill Rare Plants at risk. Concern about these plants became so extreme that in 1996, five of the eight rare plant species of the Pine Hill region were listed as either threatened or endangered by extinction under the Federal Endangered Species Act. For more information, contact the Mother Lode Field Office for more information.
Cache Creek is a Watchable Wildlife area, and also boasts spring wildflowers. Contact the Ukiah Field Office for more information.
The Sacramento River Bend Area, just north of Red Bluff, offers spectacular wildflower displays throughout the spring. Vast vistas of yellow and purple fields are common during a springtime hike along many of the trails in the area. Contact the Redding Field Office for more information.
Blue Door Flat - northeast California, south of Alturas. The Blue Door Flat area provides an interesting area to watch waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds, as well as colorful wildflowers...in spring the meadow provides a fantastic array of color. Contact the Alturas Field Office at for more information.
Wildflower enthusiasts planning trips to the deserts, forests and foothills to find annual splashes of color across the landscape may be surprised that the coastal sand dunes have a spring show to offer. Contact the Arcata Field Office for more information.
Just for fun
Try your skill at finding wildflowers in this Word Search.