Posted by: Sandy Steinman | April 24, 2010

Bear Valley

I went to Bear Valley yesterday (4/23/10) with the docents from the Regional Parks Botanic Garden on a trip led by the garden director Steve Edwards.  I would describe this as an average year for Bear Valley.  There were plenty of flowers in bloom, but not a lot of big displays as in a good year.  There was an impressive display of Tidytips when you first get on Bear Valley Road on the right. There was also a very good display of Zigadene at Bear Valley.  Some of the other flowers in bloom were Poppies, Lasthenia glabrata, Owl’s clover, Yellow Lomatium, Popcorn, Gilia bicolor, Lupinus nana, Calochortus uniflora, Royal Delphinium, Cream Cups, Fiddleneck, Red Paintbrush, and Blue-eyed Grass.  Almost all flowers are behind barbed wire (so they can’t escape?).  One of the ranches several miles in had a sign that they were selling the wildflower booklet for this area.

Bear Valley is protected through the efforts of the American Land Conservancy.  Rangeland Trust owns the 12,893-acre ranch.  In 2006 the American Land Conservancy acquired an easement on the nearby Payne Ranch, which expanded the protected areas.  Both areas are still privately owned but are managed to protect natural ecological resources. All fence lines should be respected.  The road is dirt but passable by ordinary cars when dry.  To get to Bear Valley take the Williams exit from I-5 and drive 18 miles west on Highway 20, turn right and go north on Bear Valley Road for 14 miles.  You may want to drive back taking the Walker Ridge Road, which runs parallel and to the west of Bear Valley.

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Related articles about Bear Valley Ranch and Payne Ranch:

Bear Valley Plant list from Sacramento CNPS

Steven Edwards, the Director of the Regional Parks Botanic Garden, wrote an article on Bear Valley that was published in Fremontia Oct. 1994 Vol. 4 No.  Article begins on page 12

How to Photography: the Wildflowers of Bear Valley is an article in California Photo Scout that  gives ideas about how to photograph in an area where much of the land is fenced off:

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  1. […] to Bear Valley/Walker Ridge and a short slide show from the past, go to Natural History Wanderings: also like to approach/return via the more scenic Hwy 16 from I-505 — exit the freeway […]


  2. Wow, you’re really covering some ground, Sandy. Great job. I’ve never been to this area. That shot of the river is gorgeous!


    • Funny, but I clicked on Hell’s Half Acre post to make my comment, but ended up here!


  3. We drove through Bear Valley Wednesday, April 6, 2011. The road was slightly muddy at the southern end and was being graded. We saw large fields of tidy tips and cream cups. We also saw bird’s eye gilia, gold fields, popcorn flowers, purple owl’s clover, royal larkspur, bush lupine, butter lupine, redbud, blue dicks, Ithuriel’s spears, paint brush, and fiddlenecks. Flower books for the area are available at a ranch house.


  4. […] Last year’s Bear Valley report from my visit on April 24,2010 […]


  5. Thanks a lot, Sandy, for the links that provide interesting information.

    I discovered this site (based further south from you) that is said to be under construction, but already contains much to read and look at!


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