Anza-Borrego DSP Area Wildflowers
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Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Introduction Package
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Note: Spring is one of the most beautiful times of the year in the desert, but it can also be a time for caution. Rattlesnakes lie dormant during the cold fall and winter months and awaken from hibernation in the warm months of March and April. Another reason to stay on the trails. More...
How to get to the park - Map - You can also tour the 133 full-sized metal sculptures here that are inspired by creatures that roamed this same desert millions of years ago.
Need a place to stay? Get rates - More on the park: Park Information.
2017 Anza Borrego Desert - Wildflower Reports
April 22, 2017 DUSA reports: It will be hot this weekend, some cactus in bloom at the higher elevations.
April 18, 2017 Dearlie reports: Flowering Hedgehog taken in Plum Canyon at the Anza Borrego Desert plus a wild flower.
April 15, 2017 ABDSP reports: Fields of annual wildflowers are no longer to be found at lower elevations, but blooming shrubs and cacti can still be found in Anza-Borrego.
The Visitor Center remains one of the best places to see many varieties of cacti in bloom, as well as shrubs (indigo bush!) and ocotillo, along with a few persisting annuals.
Good places to look for ocotillos in bloom are: Highway S-22 toward the Salton Sea, Borrego Springs Road south of Tilting T, the junction of Borrego Springs Road and Highway 78, Yaqui Pass Road, and Ocotillo Flats, near Desert Gardens in Coyote Canyon.
The Bill Kenyon Overlook Trail (at the top of Yaqui Pass) has brittlebush and other perennials in bloom, and a lovely overlook, which can be reached by hiking one mile from the Yaqui Pass Primitive Camp (a shorter trail leaves from pullout on Hwy S-3).
The road to the Mine Wash Village site has plenty of shrubs in bloom, as well as cacti and a few annuals. 4WD vehicles can continue up the road for more flowers.
Hikers should be able to find shrubs in bloom, along with cacti and perhaps some annuals, in canyons such as Palm Canyon, Hellhole Canyon, and especially Plum Canyon (off Highway 78; 2WD vehicles should stay right at the fork).
Hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail between Ranchita and Warner Springs will find poppies, lupine, and other annuals in bloom.
Culp Valley is a good place to look for mallow, yucca, and scarlet bugler (penstemon).
A few patches of sand verbena may still linger among the desert dandelions and pincushion blooming around the collection of metal sculptures near the junctions of Borrego Springs Road (north) and DiGiorgio Road with Henderson Canyon Road.
Primitive camps available to two-wheel-drive vehicles are Culp Valley (west of town) and Arroyo Salado (east of town), both on Highway S-22, and Blair Valley and Mountain Palm Springs on S-2. 4WD vehicles can access Yaqui Well camp, Fish Creek, and Bow Willow ($15 fee). No ground fires permitted.
Visitors who have a day or more would do well to explore the southern half of the park, also. Flowers should be coming into bloom at higher elevations, and the primitive camps at Blair Valley and Mountain Palm Springs should be less crowded. Fill your gas tank before heading south, take plenty of water, and be prepared to pack out your trash. No ground fires. Be sure to drink plenty of water while you are here!
Dogs must remain leashed while in the park, and are not allowed on hiking trails.
April 14, 2017 Jim reports: Lots of color in Mine Wash.
April 14, 2017 Dearlie reports: Yaqui Pass still good place to see the flowers. Right at intersection of S3 and 78.
April 10, 2017 Cynthia and Rich report: We went to Mountain Palm Springs, driving from Ocotillo up to Scissors Crossing, on April 4, 2017. We would like to report lots of blooming ocotillo and even still some brittle bush from Agua Caliente up to the Crossing, although of course when you get to the pastoral areas they are brushy. However, to the west the alluvial fans there are covered in smears of yellow annuals. No trails to there, but very pretty when driving through the area.
The bloom at Mountain Palm Springs looks as though it was great a couple of weeks ago, even a week, but now is faded. However, as on the Alternate Trail at Borrego Palm Canyon, the poppies succeeded the other flowers and make the hiking very pleasing. Just a few barrel cacti are still sporting blooms. The reddish bush that looks like indigo at first glance, whose name we do not recollect, is in bloom along with the indigo bush all up the S-2. Creosote is half flowers and half white seed heads, so it still looks very pretty. There are some nice butter-and-eggs on the fields around Agua Caliente.
Tomorrow we are trying Meyer Valley as our last hike of the season but as that is out of the Anza Borrego State Park we will not report on it.
April 7, 2017 DesertUSA reports: The flower field on Henderson road is in its final stage. There are still wildflower in the canyons and higher elevations. The ocotillos are blooming in many areas and the brittlebush is blooming on the hillsides.
March 31, 2017 DesertUSA reports: Best wildflowers in the canyons and on hill sides, lots of color everwhere. Below are pictures from Plum Canyon, Mine Wash and Grapevine Canyon Road. It will be getting hot soon now the time to go.
March 30, 2017 Tomoe reports: My husband and I went to ABDSP on 3/23-25. Even though the flower field is already past the peak, there are still many wildflowers in many places. Hellhole Canyon: Desert floor is covered by pincushion, desert dandelion, monkey flower, chia, etc, and Indio bush is so intense! Mountain is over by Brittlebush. Cactus flower is also blooming. Cactus Loop and Yaqui Well/Pass Area: Brittllbush and Cactus flowers are full bloom!
March 29, 2017 Doug reports: Beavertail Cactus
March 29, 2017 Mike reports: My wife and I hiked into Plum Canyon on Sunday the 26th. We drove all the way back on the dirt road, forked to the left and parked at the base of the canyon - clearance/AWD recommended.
March 29, 2017 Margie reports: Anza-Borrego Super Bloom is becoming less of a 10 on the flats with many plants going to seed, but there are still great places to go: Palm Canyon, Hellhole Canyon, the Cactus Loop Trail, the Yaqui Pass Drive and Kenyon Overlook Trail, Plum Canyon, and the Montezuma Grade. The hillsides on these drives are full of yellow Brittlebush. The Anza-Borrego Visitor Center has amazing blooms still going on: Indigo, Palo Verde, Ocotillo, Lavender, Chollas, Desert Dandelion, Fremont Pincushion, and more.
Plum Canyon Hike has Desert Hibiscus, Monkey Flowers, Brittlebush, Phacelia, and many more.
Desert 5-Spots can be found in several places, but the easiest places are:
The Elephant Tree Nature Trail at Split Rock area
Hawk Canyon off of Buttes Pass Road off 78
The Discovery Center at Ocotillo Wells SVA
March 29, 2017 Ocotillo Wells SVRA reports: Welcome to our last Wildflower Wednesday report of the season. Despite a few holdouts, our astounding annual bloom is on its way out. More dune primrose (Oenothera deltoides) and bladder pod (Isomeris arborea) were spotted in a caterpillar-free zone off Poleline Road this week. Bladder pod is related to the caper family and is a magnet for hummingbirds. We saw varied mini-gardens while hunting for bugs along the Road Runner Trail.
Ocotillos (Fouquieria splendens) have finally flamed on this week in the western end of the park, in stark contrast to the stubble of annuals. Nevertheless, you’ll enjoy the primary colors of perennial shrubs as you drive to and from the coast in the coming weeks.
March 27, 2017 Ross reports: I was in Anzo-Borrego 3/25/17 and saw many different blooming plants and trees. Many photos were taken along the 79 from Anzo-Borrego to Temecula. Of course many of the usual faces were seen blooming out of the sand and rock, so I tried to focus on the ones that I do not usually see.
March 27, 2017 Vicky reports: Took these photos on or around the visitors center in Anza_borrego Desesrt state Park.
March 25, 2017 ABDSP reports: Abundant winter rains have given us this lovely phenomenon of annual plants, shrubs, and cacti bursting into bloom this month, and we’re happy you’re here to see it, too.
Follow this route to see a variety of different wildflowers:
• Head east on Palm Canyon Drive (the “main drag” through our little town)
• Go past the traffic circle/roundabout that we call Christmas Circle
• Follow the highway as it continues east, then follow the road as it heads north (if you have time, check out the flowers—Dune Primrose and Sand Verbena, with a few Dune Sunflowers and Desert Lilies—blooming in the dunes along Old Springs Road, a paved road to the right at this corner)
• You should see white Dune Evening Primrose and pink Sand Verbena along the sides of the highway.
• Where the highway bends right to continue east, make a left turn onto Henderson Canyon Road (an alternative is to follow the highway to a great display near mile marker 31, then come back).
• You’ll see more pink and white, along with purple lupine, near the east end of Henderson Canyon Road, before arriving at the fields of yellow-orange Desert Sunflower. There should be lots of parking along this road. The freshest-looking sunflowers are in the eastern half of this field.
• Continue west on Henderson Canyon Road; you’ll see a field of flowers at the intersection with DiGiorgio Road; a left turn on either DiGiorgio or Borrego Springs Road will show you more flowers and bring you back to the center of town. A collection of large metal sculptures near the intersection of Henderson Canyon Road and Borrego Springs Road is worth checking out, too.
Desert lilies have mostly finished blooming, but a few can still be found at Arroyo Salado primitive camp.
Ocotillos are starting to bloom; look for them along Highway 78, on Yaqui Pass Road (Highway S-3), and in the Desert Gardens area in Coyote Canyon (the dirt road beyond Desert Gardens requires a 4WD vehicle).
The bright yellow flowers of Brittlebush are stunning, on the hillsides of Highways S-22 and S-3.
The Visitor Center is one of the best places to see a variety of cacti in bloom, as well as desert dandelions, pincushionjoining other shrubs such as brittlebush, indigo bush, and chuparosa.
Primitive camps available to two-wheel-drive vehicles are Culp Valley (west of town) and Arroyo Salado (east of town), both on Highway S-22. 4WD vehicles can access Yaqui Well camp. No ground fires permitted.
Visitors who have a day or more would do well to explore the southern half of the park, also.
Flowers will be coming into bloom at higher elevations, and are already blooming at the Carrizo Badlands Overlook.
Blair Valley and Mountain Palm Springs are large primitive camps along S-2 in the southern half of the park, with plenty of room, vault toilets, and short hikes nearby. Both are accessible to 2WD vehicles. Fill your gas tank before heading south, take plenty of water, and be prepared to pack out your trash. No ground fires.
Please drink plenty of water while you are here, obey all traffic laws, and be considerate of the flowers (all vegetation is protected!) and of the visitors who are here with you and those who will come
March 24, 2017 John reports: We visited Anza Borrego (3-23-17) and the places the Visitor Center suggested (Coyote Canyon and Henderson Valley). We found the bloom nice but definitely over the peak. But then we drove South on S-3 and then turned right onto Hiway 78 towards Julian. After a few miles we found Plum Canyon and drove 1.8 miles on the dirt road. Walking up the canyon was fantastic. Wild flowers just really starting to bloom. Nice variety and much less crowded!
March 24, 2017 DesertUSA reports: Coyote Canyon and the sunflower fields along Henderson Canyon Road are past their prime. They still have many photo opportunities. The field on the west side of DiGiorgio Road south of Henderson Canyon Road has a good mix of wildflowers, and still may not be at its peak.
West side of DiGiorgio Road photo 3/22/17
Henderson Canyon Road photo 3/22/17
We spent a lot of time on the south end of the park on S2 here is what we found.
March 23, 2017 Ocotillo Wells SVRA reports: The color of the week around the OW Discovery Center is yellow! A not-so-mellow-yellow collage includes well-irrigated brittlebush (Encelia farinosa), creosote bush (Larrea tridentata), burro bush (Ambrosia dumosa), and blue palo verde trees (Parkinsonia florida). Burro bush, a member of the bursage family, dukes it out for real estate, trying to avoid underground secretions from creosote roots. Bursage plants also seem to have a way to prevent growing too close to one another. On the sand surface, palest-yellow sand blazing star (Mentzelia involucrata) has been seen around the headquarters complex.
Rayless encelia (Encelia frutescens) is blooming behind the complex in a small wash; its bud-like blooms are extremely fragrant.
Not to be outdone, blue blooms are on the rise. Indigo bushes (Psorothamnus schottii) began displaying their aptly-named blossoms this week. You can find cushions of bristly gilia (Langloisia setosissima) on the hillside to the west of the Amphitheater.
Although many early bloomers are starting to crisp up, there are still pockets of mixed color in local washes. Some Sphinx moth caterpillars have hit their limit and are heading underground to pupate Before the season draws to a close, many thanks to Ron Shugan for his exquisite and well-catalogued collection of wildflower photos.
March 22, 2017 Frank reports: I managed to sneak into ABDSP Monday, returning home today. Very crowded - had to overnight in Salton City. The flowers are still at "peak". I give it another week, given that it's now very hot and Sphinx Moth caterpillars have begun to appear.
March 21, 2017 Arielle reports: My husband and I drove down to Anza Borrego through 86 South and cut across 78 West through the park. We stopped along the way between Yaqui Pass and Sentenac Canyon. The canyon was beautiful to drive through - so green! We usually camp in November, when everything is dusty and brown.
Taking S2 south, we attempted to get to Vallecito Wash, but the road was too difficult for a 2WD. We turned around. We turned left back onto S2, and kept heading southeast. We came across some great barrel cactus blooms close to the Carrizo Cayon area along Sweeny Pass, esp on the switchbacks. We were able to enjoy the blooms without the crowds, and spent over an hour at this amazing location. Every color in the rainbow was present! We were careful not to step on blooms, but it was tough. They were everywhere! We drove out through Ocotillo and up through Westmorland (great date shakes)!
March 21, 2017 Mary reports: I would rate the bloom I saw at Anza-Borrego on March 17 and 18 in the top six of blooms that I have seen there over the past 25 years. Part of the wonder of desert wildflowers is how very different the good bloom years are. While I have seen more masses of Dune Primrose or Lupines in other good years, this year is over the top for three flower species:
· Masses of Bigelow Monkey flowers - The Monkey Flowers are having a good year turning hillsides and the desert floor magenta in places. The first display I saw was on the south side of S22 just past the Hell Hole Canyon parking lot, heading towards town.
· Most Desert Lilies – These are still fresh and plentiful in places. Two favorite spots were along the road to the Arroyo Salado campsite and on the north side of S 22 about 5 miles west of that road.
· Thick flowers on the Fishhook Cactus on the Cactus Loop Trail – Some of the cactuses had double rows of blooms and even tiny one had blooms.
If you are looking for the Desert Five Spot that is allusive in this park, I found them starting to bloom in two places. One was on the west side of the cut off road between S 3 and 78 at a spot I stopped to look at the flowering Ocotillo. The other was at the Carrizo Badlands overlook.
March 20, 2017 Andreas reports: Visited Anza-Borrego on Sat. March 18 and had a great day. I'd say the bloom now rivals the epic 2005 bloom. I drove north all the way up S2 from the southern entrance, then up S3 to Henderson Canyon. I arrived early and stayed though mid afternoon. There were crowds in Henderson Canyon, but nothing too bad. I packed a lunch and beverages to avoid hassles in Borrego Springs.
I have to say, though, that there are lots of beautiful spots with a diverse range of plants and scenery the whole length of the park. I pretty much stuck to driving along the paved road and found so many great spots with all kinds of colors. The flowers in Henderson Canyon were huge - some were waist high. My clothes were full of color from the flower pollen - plus the inevitable choya needles.
Do yourself a big favor and explore the whole length of the park. The areas on the flower map are the densest concentrations, but they're just the start of it, and other areas are much less crowded. BUT GO NOW!!!
March 20, 2017 Currtis reports: Drove down from San Jose for a day to catch the bloom last week. Wish I could have stayed longer than 12 hours
Wildflower field guide ebook
find the wildflowers by color - Kindle, iPads and Smart phones. $4.99
Photos tips: Most digital point-and-shoot cameras have a macro function - usually symbolized by the icon of a little flower. When you turn on that function, you allow your camera to get closer to the subject, looking into a flower for example. Or getting up close and personal with a bug. More on desert photography and wildflowers photos.
When will the desert wildflowers bloom? We start our report in January, plan your visit to coincide with the peak of the bloom - keep up to date with DesertUSA's Wildflower Reports. Be sure to bookmark this page for weekly updates.
We'd like to see your pictures too. E-mail your digital photos and reports to Jim@desertusa.com. Use Wildflower Report as the subject of your e-mail. Let us know where you took the photo and the date. We will post them on our wildflower reports. Thanks for your support and photos.
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