Post has been updated to include reports from Anza-Borrego Wildflowers
Updates from Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association and Anza-Borrego State Park for 3/17/17. Much is repeated from previous reports but included so you can see what is current as of today.
The bloom is excellent right now in numerous locations around the Borrego Valley and adjoining washes, having expanded over the last few days, and is now more extensive than last weekend. The end of DiGiorgio Road and Coyote Canyon are now in full bloom, dune evening primrose, verbena, Arizona lupine, and bright yellow desert dandelions. There are plenty of flowers right around the end of the asphalt in that location, and there is good parking there too, but flowers are at their best a couple of miles in. This is an area that will be congested, particularly on weekends, as lots of people head to Anza-Borrego to see the flowers, so try to get here early. Further to the east, the area north and south of Henderson Canyon Road is in full bloom as well, dominated by a large field of desert sunflowers, with sand verbena and dune evening primrose along the edges. That area offers lots of roadside parking and the fields of desert sunflower are going strong.
Most of the washes and side canyons that border the Borrego Valley are now in bloom. The mouth of Henderson Canyon, at the northern end of Borrego Valley Road, is a good spot to park and walk through the fields of scattered white, purple, yellow, and blue flowers. Fred Melgert reports that Hawk Canyon, off of Highway 78 on the way to Ocotillo Wells, is in bloom, with Arizona Lupine, Desert Sand Verbena, and Bigelow’s monkey flower.
Ocotillo Wells SVRA says “If you are looking for a drive-by flower gazing opportunity, look no further than Pole Line Road. Sheltered draws on the west side of the road between Wide Open Spaces and Gas Domes Trail still support crowds of desert lily, some nearly two feet tall.”
This will be a “rolling bloom”; different areas, different species, different elevations, as things come into bloom; cacti, shrubs, ocotillo are not in bloom yet. The “Ocotillo forest” area along Borrego Springs road, south of Tilting T, will be spectacular when it comes into bloom, easily viewed from the roadside and that will likely happen in the next week. The entire area is very green with the nearby dune covered in yellow desert dandelions. It’s also important to know that the best flower viewing is in the morning. Many flowers close up during the heat of the day.
There was very heavy traffic coming into Borrego Springs over last weekend, particularly on S22 coming through Ranchita and down Montezuma Grade. We expect the coming weekend to be similar. Visiting on weekdays is a good idea if possible.
Anza-Borrego State Park reports on 3/17/17
A heat wave through the weekend means visitors should wear sun protection and drink lots of water!
As expected, plentiful rains in December, January AND February have encouraged the development of a spectacular showing of annual plants in the flower fields north of town, along trails in western canyons, and even in the badlands. Roadsides in town are a great place to see fields of Desert Dandelions. A good route to follow is:
- East on Palm Canyon Drive, continue north on highway S-22.
- Turn left onto Henderson Canyon Road to visit the sunflower fields.
- Travel the length of the road west to Borrego Springs Road.
- Turn left on Borrego Springs Road, which will bring you back into town
Desert Lily plants are continuing to bloom in many locations, including the badlands. The dirt road to Arroyo Salado Primitive Camp is a good place to look for Lilies (beyond the camp area, 4WD is recommended). Notch-leaved Phacelia is another treasure to be found in the badlands this year, but only if you are driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Every day, we are seeing more and more Desert Sunflowers start blooming in the “Flower Fields” along Henderson Canyon Road. Look for Sand Verbena, Lupine and Dune Evening Primrose here, also. A variety of flowers can also be found at the western end of the road, near the collection of large metal statues.
The Coyote Canyon Road has been graded again, making it passable to two-wheel-drive vehicles as far as Desert Gardens (caution: shoulders are sandy, leaving just a few areas safe for passing and turning around). Bright yellow Parish’s poppies covering the hillsides are delightful! Drivers who don’t want to drive the dirt road should park at the end of the pavement and venture out onto the flats, for Desert Lilies in bloom, Dune Evening Primrose, Lupine, Desert Chicory, and patches of Sand Verbena.
Poppies, Phacelia, Cryptantha, Chuparosa and Brittlebush have been blooming at the Visitor Center, where Desert Dandelions and other annuals make an impressive showing. $5 parking.
Borrego Palm Canyon is beautiful right now, with Canterbury Bells, Poppies, Monkeyflower, and Phacelia blooming against lots of bright green foliage! Brittlebushes are loaded with buds, and should be bursting with bright yellow flowers any day. Look closely for delicate Whispering Bells and diminutive Little Gold Poppy. Arrive early (before 8:00 a.m.)
Hellhole Canyon should have similar flowers, and while it is a longer hike, could be an option when the parking lot for Borrego Palm Canyon is full.
Flower-seekers wanting to get away from crowds would do well to explore the southern end of the park. Highway S-2 from Sweeney Pass to the Carrizo Badlands Overlook is beautiful, and primitive camping areas (try Blair Valley or Mountain Palm Springs) and trails will be much less crowded.
Anza-Borego Wildflowers has four new reports
3/17 We hiked the loop counter clockwise as we’ve done for some time.
WOW what a bloom, flower fields upon fields of:
Desert dandelion, Malacothrix glabrata
Parish’s poppy, Eschscholzia parishii
Purplemat, Nama demissa demissa
While the first isn’t unusual, the others are very unusual.
When we visited Rockhouse one month ago, at that time we had the impressing: This may be the best canyon in the park and it surely is right now, the bloom count is truly impressive.
Very surprised to see our bloom count missed one plant, Fountain grass, Pennisetum setaceum, they were recently removed from “Hidden Spring”, YES.
Species in bloom below 3000 feet: 106+4
Pictures: Butler Canyon – Hidden Spring – Rockhouse Canyon
3/17 Pena spring is a good place away from the heat and the crowd.
This is bush walk up the canyon next to Pena Spring up to the California Riding and Hiking.
The incredibly high number of Wild cucumber, Marah macrocarpa in bloom and Few flowered clematis, Clematis pauciflora surprised us.
Flower fields of California goldfields, Lasthenia gracilis where absent this time.
One of our goals was to find baby Short flowered Long flowered Threadplant, Nemacladus longiflorus var. breviflorus and we did.
Another goal was to find Splendid mariposa lily, Calochortus splendens and we might have, but still to early to tell.
The third goal was to check on a large population what seems to be Borrego bedstraw, Galium angustifolium borregoense, but no flowers yet for the ultimate proof.
Species in bloom above 3000 feet: 69
Pictures: Pena Spring – California Loop
3/16 Our day off, so we did two car surveys.
First to blowsand canyon, with a surprising number of plants in bloom, in this otherwise barren area.
Next stop Hawk canyon, wow this is the fist time, we found a good flower show in this canyon.
The caterpillar are present in ever higher numbers.
While walking we have the strong impression that bloom peaked a couple of days ago in the low desert, plants are looking less fresh or are close to end of bloom.
Species in bloom below 3000 feet: 67
Pictures: Blow Sand Canyon Loop
Pictures: Hawk Canyon Loop
3/15 It’s still hot, but the badlands are a must go destination right now.
Entering an area that was long on our to visit list, in the hope to find something new.
It took us a while to figure out an access point and how to make a good loop.
Close to the start an unusual find an albino: Notch leaf phacelia, Phacelia crenulata ambigua.
One of the best finds of the season Alkali Phacelia, Phacelia neglecta in high numbers, we don’t like the common name because the rocky mesa seems to be nothing alkali.
The display of flowers on our trip was unbelievably, we where in flower overflow, so many and so green.
Species in bloom below 3000 feet: 67
Pictures: Grave wash – North Palm wash loop