desert love + how to see the super bloom

Wildflower Super Bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Stephanie Arsenault - Global Dish

Wildflower Super Bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Stephanie Arsenault - Global Dish

When one thinks of the desert, certain images are conjured up: a barren landscape dotted with prickly cacti; smooth, sloping sand dunes divided by dramatic canyons and crevices; searing hot days followed by numbingly cold nights. The desert is harsh, but it’s also undeniably soft. It’s a place of contrast, of silence, of stillness.

Every now and then, however, something magical happens and completely transforms those images by adding colour. Okay, it’s not magic, it’s science. But let’s just go with magic for the purpose of the super bloom, ‘kay? After all, something that beautiful deserves a little extra credit.

Wildflower Super Bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Stephanie Arsenault - Global Dish

Wildflower Super Bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Stephanie Arsenault - Global Dish

Not familiar with the super bloom? Here’s the low-down: every now and then, when the conditions are just right, and there’s more rain than usual during the fall and winter, the water washes a protective coating off of the dormant flower seeds in the desert. Then, with some more water, the seeds germinate, sprout, and turn into glorious, vibrant flowers. This can happen every year, every other year, every decade, or there may even be longer stretches between blooms; again, it’s magic {again, it’s science}. There can’t be too much {or too little} water. There can’t be too much wind. There has to be enough heat.

This has been one of those years where everything is just right, and the super bloom is in full force. In Southern California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, there has been an explosion of blooms. There is a temporary quilt of wildflowers draping across the desert, and if you can, make the trip to see the magic.

Wildflower Super Bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Stephanie Arsenault - Global Dish

Wildflower Super Bloom in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - Stephanie Arsenault - Global Dish

Want to check out the flowers at Anza-Borrego? Keep the following tips in mind before going:

  • Go during the week, if possible. On weekends, the entire area gets bombarded with tourists to the point where those wildflowers lose a wee bit of their magic. Also, traffic.

  • If you can, spend a night or two so you can experience the desert sunrise and sunset, and stargaze your little heart out {it’s a designated Dark Sky Park}.

  • Check the flowers out in the morning when there are less crowds and the blooms are on full display; many of them close up in the afternoon heat.

  • Explore in a 4WD; if you want to venture off the main roads, the trek can be inaccessible without the proper vehicle.

  • Make a game plan. Check out the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association’s site for updated wildflower reports, and then when you arrive, make your first stop the Visitor Centre {there are some beautiful blooms right there, to boot}. They’ll let you know where to go, and how to get there.

  • Don’t depend on your GPS or Google Maps; many of the routes to see the flowers are incorrect online, and will go through private property, or leave you at a dead end.

  • Be respectful. Don’t pick any flowers {no matter how tempting a wildflower crown is} or intrude on private property. Do support local businesses {there are some lovely restaurants in the area} and chat up the park employees.

  • Have this site on hand to help you identify the blooms; screenshot it beforehand, as there is little to no cell phone coverage throughout the park.