Watch CBS News

Wildflower super bloom returns to California after rainy winter

A super bloom of flowers has returned to California after a wet winter

Nature and photography lovers shouldn't rush to visit without checking the rules; officials have put new ones into place after droves of tourists came out in 2019 to view the poppy super blooms, in some areas trampling the flowers. Many towns have cautioned visitors this year in the name of both safety and conservation. Lake Elsinore Mayor Natasha Johnson warned visitors they could face arrest this year if they come to see the flowers in nearby Walker Canyon in Riverside County.

The canyon and parking areas are now completely off-limits. California Highway Patrol Lt. Craig Palmer said the agency is doing saturation patrols.

"Back in 2019, numerous safety incidents occurred on the trail and on our roadways," Johnson said during a February press conference. "Tens of thousands of people, as many as 100,000 in a weekend - Disneyland-sized crowds - seeking to experience nature trampled the very habitat that they placed so high in regard and sought to enjoy."

People visit the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, California, to view the flowers blooming on April 6, 2023.  FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

California State Parks Director Armando Quintero asked visitors not to "doom the bloom" in an advisory on how to safely and responsibly see the flowers. People visiting parks should stay on trails. They also shouldn't pick any of the flowers. 

Super blooms happen in wet years that occur after several years of drought.  In many parts of the state, more rain fell in the first few months of 2023 than in the entirety of 2022, KFMB reported. Super blooms are highly likely in many areas of California this year, UC Davis Plant Sciences Professor Daniel Potter said. The rain triggers the germination of wildflower seeds, leading to super bloom. 

Areas with blooms see large, dense quantities of wildflowers blanketing the landscape. Some of the most beautiful blooms grow in desert areas. Depending on the area, visitors might see California poppies, sand verbena, desert sunflowers, evening primrose, popcorn flowers or desert lilies. 

"California's desert state parks are cautiously optimistic in expecting a 'good' to 'better than average' wildflower bloom this late winter and spring seasons depending on the continued weather conditions," the state Department of Parks and Recreation said on their website.

Visitors can head to a number of parks this year to snap photos of the wildflower blooms. The Parks Department lists updated blooms at a variety of locations. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.