Springtime Desert Wildflower Super Bloom

by Julie Cohn
Springtime in Bloom Out West 1

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Who says the desert is boring?  It’s springtime and the desert is experiencing a spectacular kaleidoscope of color!  California, Arizona, and other western states received more rain this past winter than most years, feeding sleepy wildflower seeds that usually lie dormant on the desert floor, undisturbed for years. Those seeds, fueled even further by late season rain, then the warm sun, are now awake, creating a rare springtime desert wildflower super bloom.

Anza Borrego State Park, in Southern California, is experiencing a stunning super bloom of wildflowers, but several other desert areas, including the Bartlett Lake/Bartlett Reservoir area of central Arizona, are enjoying a brilliant bloom of their own.  Spring is the perfect time to visit these desert because the weather is still fairly cool and the desert is vibrant and alive.  Come take a peek at my visits to Anza-Borrego and Bartlett Lake and see the super bloom for yourself!

Springtime Desert Wildflower Super Bloom

Anza-Borrego State Park, California

Anza-Borrego State Park, located in the Colorado desert area of Southern California, is the second largest state park in contiguous United States. Known as one of the darkest parks in the United States, it draws visitors for its barren red-hued mountains, desert foliage, and sweeping valleys. Summertime temperatures average 107 degrees in August, but in winter months the park enjoys temperatures in the 60’s.  This winter, the park received just over seven inches of rain, almost twice as much as it normally receives in a year, and that wonderful rain awakened the desert.


Springtime Desert Super Bloom 1

Photo by Nick Cohn

Bartlett Lake/Reservoir, Arizona

Bartlett Lake and reservoir is located 48 miles northeast of Phoenix, in the middle of Tonto National Forest.  Formed by the damming of the Verde River, Bartlett Lake is a popular place for boating, fishing, and camping in central Arizona.  The drive to Bartlett Lake from Carefree winds around craggy mountains and fields of saguaro.  The main road into the lake is paved, but there are many off-road trials in this area, so be aware of posted signs.  Coyote, rattlesnake, javalina, bald eagles, bobcats, and other animals make the Bartlett Lake area their home as well, so be careful when hiking through the desert.

Tips for Visiting the Springtime Desert Wildflower Super Bloom

  • These are native desert areas, with many indigenous animals and reptiles.  Be aware of your surrounding.
  • Rattlesnakes and other animals awake from hibernation in the spring and can be anywhere in the desert.  Watch where you walk.
  • Wear closed toes shoes.  Gravel, sand, and dust are plentiful in desert areas.
  • Bring extra water.  The humidity is low and the temperatures can get high, even in the spring.
  • Many of the roads in Anza-Borrego are unpaved dirt roads with soil that was disturbed by flooding.  Stay in the center of the road when possible as the road shoulders are unstable.
  • The super blooms are bringing more visitors than ever, so expect more traffic than usual.
  • Both Anza-Borrego and Bartlett Lake require visitor passes.  Anza-Borrego is $5 for a day pass; Bartlett Lake is $10 for a one-day pass.
  • For more information about Anza-Borrego Park, visit their website.
  • For more information about Bartlett Lake and Reservoir, please visit the US Forest Service website.

For more places to see the spring wildflowers, check out these articles from a few of my fellow writers:

Tee from That’s It LA:  Wildflower Superbloom Walker Canyon

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Tami 03/29/2017 at 1:30 am

Loved your photos! I just went to Anza, too, and wrote about it on my blog. So amazing to see the desert come alive with color! But now the caterpillars are eating all the flowers! Guess we’ll have lots of butterflies this year!

Julie Cohn 03/29/2017 at 2:22 am

Thanks Tami, I love your post too!

sherianne 04/01/2017 at 5:30 pm

We were so blessed with the super bloom this year and your photos are AMAZING! I need to get off this computer and drive up to Lake Elsinore to see the poppies before they are gone

Julie Cohn 04/01/2017 at 10:51 pm

Thank you Sherianne, I wish had a chance to get to Lake Elsadore!


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