Posted by: Sandy Steinman | February 24, 2019

Anza- Borrego Wildflowers 2/24/19

Anza- Borrego State Park reports  February 24, 2019

Recent heavy rains have damaged roads and trails in the park, but may serve to extend the blooming season by a few weeks, by allowing plants to grow larger.

Heading east on S-22, look for early blooms along the roadside and in the washes & canyons between mile 33 and 36. There is a large pullout between miles 30 and 31 with room for parking near fields of purple sand verbena.

Just west of mile marker 35, park and walk into Arroyo Salado, Coachwhip Canyon, or Ella Wash. You’ll find a wide variety of flowers, including sand verbena, desert sunflower, brown-eyed evening primrose, and lupine. These flowers are blooming in response to fall storms in this area, and may be nearing their peak. Desert lilies are blooming in Arroyo Salado primitive camp, with more in bud.

CAUTION: Dirt roads into the Borrego Badlands require four-wheel-drive!

The mouth of Coyote Canyon, at the north end of paved DiGiorgio Road, has fields of flowers in bloom. The dirt road into Lower Coyote Canyon has been opened (4WD vehicles only) as far as Desert Gardens, but remains CLOSED to ALL traffic (including foot traffic) beyond. There is room for parking at the end of the pavement. Flower seekers may walk EAST a short distance up a private dirt road to a field of desert sunflowers and sand verbena. You might also find lupine, brown-eyed evening primrose, and dune primrose, as well as a few desert lilies.

In the southern part of Anza-Borrego, June Wash is reported to have nice flowers. Park near mile marker 42 on highway S-2 and walk up the wash.

For maps and directions, call the Visitor Center at 760-767-4205.

For guided flower walks on Fridays, reserve your spot with the Anza-Borrego Foundation at 760-767-0446.

Ocotillo Wells SVRA is also experiencing an outstanding bloom due to heavy rainin the fall. Visitors with 4WD can check out The Cove, Devil’s Slide, Palm Wash,and Tarantula Wash, as well as the Buttes Pass area, or join staff for a 4WD flower tour at 3 pm on Feb. 24th. Those without 4WD vehicles should visit the OWSVRA Discovery Center (near mile marker 91 on Highway 78), and walk the accessible trail to see a variety of things in bloom. Their staff will be offering free wildflower tours at the Discovery Center from 10-4 on February 24th. 760-767-5393.


Borrego Wildflowers also has an update for 2/24/19

Bloom prediction for the Anza-Borrego Desert:

Will we get a Super Bloom this season? We think MAYBE, all indications point to a better than normal bloom.
The amount of relevant rain is now a least equal to the good spring of 2017, what some called a Super Bloom.

The great winter bloom (first bloom cycle) from the October 2018 rain, sometimes surpassing the 2017 Super bloom is beginning to wind down, as most annuals have a finite lifetime, no matter how much water, sun and nutrients you give them.

The second bloom cycle from the December 2018 rain is growing and there will be new germination from the February 2019 rain.
March and April bloom will be more wide spread and probably cover most of the park.
The word Super Bloom is widely used for anything more than a couple of flowers, but this is going to be a good to a maybe very good flower season.

Very warm weather might spoil things.
Don’t forget the caterpillars, when they show up in force, whole areas may be DOOMED.

When will the bloom peak? Most likely middle of March – beginning of April, depending on temperature and rain.

Easy access flower sites:
Drive from Borrego Spring -> Salton sea on the S22. Start looking past the marked Palo Verde Wash but stay on the S22. The center is around Ella Wash, Arroyo Salado (camp) exit.
Drive into Arroyo Salado (camp), here the flower fields are great or drive into Coachwhip canyon on the north side of the S22.
Just beyond the end of Di Giorgio Rd asphalt (0.5 mile further) is turning into a nice flower spot. The Coyote Canyon is now open for 4×4 up to desert garden.

The best flower fields, 4×4 high clearance only:
San Felipe wash ‘road’ along East Butte, is still one of the best spots right now, with hundreds of huge Oenothera deltoides deltoides | Dune evening primrose in bloom.
From Butte Pass Rd drive south into San Felipe Wash for about 0.5 mile and park.
You might not see much from the ‘road’, but hike east and things change rapidly.

A place that might even be better is in the Ocotillo Wells SVRA, called Devil’s slide.
Here you find thousands of Oenothera deltoides deltoides | Dune evening primrose in bloom, mixed with huge field of Geraea canescens | Desert sunflower.
Best check at the Ocotillo Wells SVRA Discovery Center, get a map and head out.

Along the Henderson Canyon Road hundreds of large Geraea canescens, Desert sunflower, some already in bloom. The band of flowers is narrow, but better hiking farther North.
Warning Coyote Canyon from DiGiorgio asphalt is now open up to desert garden (4×4 only).
Coyote Canyon: Fouquieria splendens | splendens Ocotillo in good bloom along the road.
Zero crossing, just beyond the end of Di Giorgio Rd asphalt is turning into a nice flower spot.
The area between Henderson Canyon road and Zero crossing looks promising as there is a lot of germination.
The Canebrake area (Ironwood canyon, June Wash, Vallecito wash) a lot of plants don’t look that happy. The frost and lack of rain are probably the cause, but with the recent rain.
Most visible bloom: Chylismia claviformis peirsonii | Brown eyed primrose, Abronia villosa villosa, Desert sand verbena.
Torote canyon is one of the other better flower spots.
From and including Rattlesnake canyon along the S22.
One of the highlights along the S22 close to Arroyo Salado (camp), Ella Wash.

Confirmed germination and flowering plants:
Ocotillo Wells, Blow Sand Canyon, Cut Across Road, Military wash, 17 palms, Arroyo Salado (camp), east of Ella Wash, Palm Wash, Big Wash, Travertine Wash.
Palo Verde Wash, Smoketree Canyon (very good), Rattlesnake canyon.

Palo Verde Wash is very good about 2 miles south of the S22 close to were it meets the Ella Wash, 4×4 only or a nice hike.
San Felipe wash ‘road’ along East Butte, is still one of the best spots right now, with hundreds of Oenothera deltoides deltoides | Dune evening primrose in bloom.
Most visible bloom: Geraea canescens | Desert sunflower, Oenothera deltoides deltoides | Dune evening primrose (hundreds early in the day), Abronia villosa villosa| Desert sand verbena.
A good number of Hesperocallis undulata, Desert lily are in bloom.
Another great spot, one of the best, is the south end of Fault Wash, on the East and West side. !!This is the off-road area!!!
Rain effects (the best flowers) are visible east of the line Thimble trail (S22) up to Ironwood resort (78).

Check out Tom Chester bloom report

Additional info:
Anza-Borrego Desert SP Bloom page
ABDNHA Bloom page

Feb/23/2019 Torote Canyon – Indian Gorge loop

This is on the edge of the flower rich area around Canebrake.
The hike is supposed to be well under 4 hours, it took us about 1 1/2 hour longer.
We didn’t even enter the canyon proper after an hour of hiking, there was that much to see and explore.
Ferocactus cylindraceus | California barrel cactus are getting close to prime bloom.

We were surprised by the very high number of Caulanthus lasiophyllus | California mustard in the wash.
Hundreds upon hundreds of Eremothera refracta | Narrowleaf suncup along the wash. We were early enough to still catch some in bloom.
Nice to see Mentzelia hirsutissima | Hairy blazingstar that are now big blooming plants.

This whole are seems to be a hot spot for Antirrhinum filipes , Twining snapdragon.
There are many Mirabilis tenuiloba | Slender lobed four o’clock blooming in the canyon.
Finally a Lupinus concinnus | Bajada lupine in bloom, that we’ve not seen this season.
Several of the tiny Astragalus nuttallianus cedrosensis | Cedros milk vetch in bloom.

Our seasons first Nama demissa demissa | Purplemat and finally flower fields of Diplacus bigelovii bigelovii | Bigelow’s monkey flowers.
In more and more places Gilia stellata | Star gilia are starting to bloom.
Mohavea confertiflora | Ghost flower are certainly not rare this season.

Species in bloom below 3000 feet: 79.


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