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SEARCHING FOR SPRING, PART 4: Carrizo Plain National Monument

CARRIZO PLAIN NATIONAL MONUMENT

“Spring is Nature’s way of saying, ‘Let’s party!'”   Robin Williams

“The day the Lord created Hope was probably the same day he created Spring.”  Bernard Williams

The first time I visited Carrizo Plain National Monument was in April 2016.  At that time, I was impressed by its vastness and stark views, and I enjoyed the occasional blossoms alongside the road.  The history and geology of the area are fascinating as well.  The park ranger advised I come back in March next time if I wanted to see more flowers.

She sure was right.

I visited the Carrizo Plain a couple times in March 2017, once with a friend.  (Our photos are intermixed a bit in this presentation.)  The flowers were absolutely tremendous. I drove in from the north, taking Highway 58 to Highway 33 into McKittrick.  Soda Lake Road runs through the park, eventually connecting to Highway 166 and the drive home.   Near and far, color was everywhere.  This year’s wildflower display is surely a Super Bloom!

The main road through the Carrizo Plain wanders back and forth between paved and unpaved, but—no matter what—flowers are strewn along the way adding color and variety.  Wind was a constant companion as well.  The breezes really kept the flowers and grasses dancing across the hills.

The hills, of course, are alive with color.  I especially like the occasional patches of pink and orange that popped out amidst the more typical yellow, green, and varying shades of blue and purple.

Soda Lake is at the heart of the Carrizo Plain, There is a hill that offers an overlook of the lake as well as a boardwalk that lets visitors stroll lakeside.

 

I have not identified all the flowers in bloom on my visits, but some of the main ones include Brittlebush, Blue Phacelia, Creosote Bush, Fiddleneck, Milk Vetch, Baby Blue Eyes, and then some sort of Daisy, something pink, and perhaps California Bluebell.  Lupine and California Poppies finally started to blossom along Highway 166.

Blue Phacelia

Brittlebrush

Fiddleneck

Baby Blue Eyes

Milk Vetch

Some Sort of Daisy? Maybe a Version of Desert Dandelion?

Juniper Berries

Creosote Bush

California Bluebells?

I Love the Grasses

These Lupine and California Poppies were captured on the steep curves of Highway 166.

If you have not yet visited Carrizo Plain National Monument, get there fast.  You might catch the end of this year’s Super Bloom.  Definitely add visiting here to your plan for next spring.

NOTE:  I am never 100% confident in my flower identifications.  If you can make corrections, please share your expertise in the comments.  Thanks.  Whether I can name them or not, these wildflowers are incredible!

SEARCHING FOR SPRING, PART 3: Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Wildflowers are erupting all over California this year, thanks in great part to the rains that are finally coming and coming—as well as intermittent days of unseasonably warm weather.  Super Blooms are being touted in many places.  One that was praised early in March for its Super Bloom was Anza Borrego Desert State Park, not far from San Diego.  By the time I was able to get down there, I expected the flowers would be starting to wane, but I was hoping there would still be some impressive color.

I was not disappointed.

Anza Borrego Desert State Park is located within the Colorado Desert Region and is comprised of 600,000 acres.  The park stretches across three counties and is the largest in California as well as the second largest in the contiguous United States.  It offers extensive hiking trails as well as some paved and many unpaved roads that help visitors find its hidden treasures.  To see the range of places to visit and potential sights to see explore these websites.

I kept my visit simple, driving in from the south on CA 79-S, eventually traveling on Montezuma Valley Rd. and Palm Canyon Rd.  My path led me up about 2400 feet over a little mountain range and then back down about 2000 feet to the little town of Borrego Springs that sits in the middle of the extensive state park. The vistas, even without flowers, were impressive.

I felt I was on some version of the Yellow Brick Road since the way was lined with yellow for what seemed like miles.

I visited on a Tuesday, and it was busy!  I am thrilled that so many people want to see wildflowers, but I really prefer them not to visit when I do. (Others never cooperate on this point—drats!)   I never made it to the Visitor Center because it looked to be about an hour wait just to be able to look for a parking place.  I don’t do that sort of thing!   I also did not wander onto hiking trails.  But sticking to the scenic driving route helped me find some great blooms—so I was very happy.

The most prevalent flowers were the yellow Brittlebrush as shown above, but others were evident as well.

My favorites are the cactus that were in bloom:  The red bloom of the Beavertail cactus, the green spine and red plume of the Ocotillo, and the burgeoning new spines of the Chollo in preparation for its blossoms.

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