NOWdestination: super bloom
March 12, 2017
By now you may have heard there is a natural wonder known as a “super bloom” underway in the Anza-Borrego Desert, just about 90 miles east of San Diego, California. As luck would have it, I had a trip booked to San Diego this week—but to be honest, when I set out for SoCal, I had absolutely no intention of driving into the desert. I was working on a photography project, San Diego Beyond the Beach, and just so happened to read about the super bloom the night before I left. So needless to say, my plans—and my project—took on a new form.
A super bloom occurs in the spring after an uncharacteristically heavy amount of rainfall hits the desert during the fall, causing a spectacular display of wildflowers to erupt across the normally barren desert floor. It’s a rare occurrence, so if you have the chance to catch one, you ought not to miss it. Thus, if you’ve ever wanted to head to the (already breathtaking) Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, now is a GREAT time to go.
If you head in from San Diego, I recommend taking CA-67 North to CA-78 East to CA-79 North, avoiding major freeways, passing through cool little towns like Ramona and Santa Ysabel (don’t miss the tiny but sweet roadside Santa Ysabel Mission), and giving you gorgeous views once you hit Montezuma Valley Road, which takes you right into the park.
With 600,000 acres to explore, you could potentially lose yourself in Anza-Borrego for days or much longer, and I highly recommend doing so. Venturing out there on my own was both peaceful and enlightening, especially with a vibrant display of wildflowers greeting me at every turn.
I had never been to the park, so I felt a little overwhelmed and intimidated at its expanse upon arrival, but with a little guidance from some of the other flower peepers at the visitor’s center, I found the most beautiful array of color along Henderson Canyon Road—but don’t take my word on where to head, because it’s sure to be ever-changing and evolving as the bloom continues. In fact, by the time of this post just a couple of days later, I’m sure there are other, even more stunning spots to head out to. But not to worry—keep up to date on the latest great spots to check out here or here.
Aside from the brilliant wildflowers on view, the park itself is quite beautiful, and has some exceptionally cool little spots like the Galleta Meadows, full of huge metal sculptures by artist Ricardo Breceda, 500 miles of dirt roads, and enough hikes to satisfy you for a lifetime.
Wherever you go in the park, be absolutely sure to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and whatever other provisions you may need—temperatures are already up in the 90s, and like I said—it’s pretty easy to lose yourself out there—even if it’s intentionally. But if there’s one thing you won’t want to head in without, it’s probably a camera…and water…seriously.
Whatever you do, get out there and enjoy it before it’s gone—right now it’s only getting better, but before you know it we’ll all blink and it’ll be over. Oftentimes we get to visit a place, but it’s rare we get to visit such a fleeting moment in time—find it, embrace it, and take it all in—it’ll never be quite the same again.