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Where to see Poppies in California

and other wildflowers too

Posted on July 27, 2023

Every spring, the Golden State bursts into bloom. From poppies to lupines, the state's diverse flora produces a kaleidoscope of colors on roadways, hillsides, and meadows. Hiking through wildflower-dotted fields or driving past hillsides painted in a sea of orange, purple, and yellow can be unforgettable experiences. But with such an incredible array of wildflower spectacles across the state, it's hard to know where to go. But don't worry, here's a list (with pictures) of some of Southern California's best wildflower locations.

Colorful fields of California golden poppies surround the visitor center and hiking paths at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Located in Lancaster, California, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is a 1,780-acre park known for its breathtaking display of California's state flower, the Golden Poppy. Every spring, the park is transformed with acres upon acres of rolling hills, each one blanketed with the warm, golden hue of California poppies. The reserve offers multiple hiking trails of different lengths through a sea of vibrant orange poppies, lupines, owl's clover, and more. While a massive wild California poppies bloom isn't always guaranteed, a visit to these nearby Los Angeles County poppy fields during peak blooming season (March through April) is sure to astound.

A stunning display of wildflowers blankets the rolling hills of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, a result of the rare "super bloom" phenomenon caused by perfect weather conditions and well-timed rains.

Carrizo Plain National Monument

The Carrizo Plain National Monument is located in San Luis Obispo County, and is one of California's largest remaining native grasslands. This remote natural preserve's open grasslands turn into a wild amphitheater of springtime wildflowers after a rainy season. You can experience grassy meadows blooming with purple owl's clover, golden poppies, yellow hillside daisies, blue lupines, and more. Carrizo Valley may not have the name recognition of Joshua Tree or Yosemite, but it has its own charm that makes it one of California's hidden gems.

Aerial photograph of wildflower-covered mountains near the City of Lake Elsinore, California during the 2019 super bloom. From above, the blooming golden California poppies stretch out as far as the eye can see.

Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve

Nestled just outside the City of Lake Elsinore, the Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve offers visitors a chance to experience the largest native grassland in Southern California. This protected area covers over 9,000 acres and boasts breathtaking views, sprawling meadows, and an array of wildlife. Once home to a thriving cattle ranch, the reserve now operates as a place of conservation and education, with visitors invited to explore the various trails and learn about the diverse flora and fauna that call this region home.

Aerial view of wildflower fields near Walker Canyon trailhead in Lake Elsinore, with two jeeps driving through California poppy fields during a super bloom.

Walker Canyon Trail

Located in Lake Elsinore, California, the Walker Canyon Trail offers a unique Southern California outdoor experience, especially for wildflower enthusiasts. Known for its spectacular wildflower bloom, particularly the orange California poppies, this trail is a must-visit spot in the spring, typically from mid-March to mid-May, when the hillsides are adorned with a vibrant tapestry of golden poppies, yellow yarrow, and blue lupines.

A solitary hiker on a trail in Chino Hills State Park, dwarfed by the sheer expanse of a hillside bursting with yellow wildflowers in full bloom.

Chino Hills State Park

Located in the rolling hills of Santa Ana Canyon in Southern California, Chino Hills State Park boasts 14,000 acres of abundant natural beauty. Renowned for its wildflower bloom, the park transforms into a vibrant spectacle of color from late winter to early spring. You'll find a wide variety of wildflowers, including the iconic California Poppy, Arroyo Lupine and Wild Canterbury Bells, visible from the park's 60 miles of trails and fire roads.

The Gorman Hills Flower Fields present a picturesque view of vibrant yellow, purple, and pink wildflowers, which create a color-splashed carpet across the terrain.

Gorman Hills Flower Fields

Located just north of Los Angeles, the Gorman Hills Flower Fields offers a spectacular display of vibrant wildflowers. From March to May each year, following a particularly wet winter season, the hillsides light up with thousands of wildflowers in luscious hues of orange, yellow, and purple. The hillsides are blanketed with a variety of wildflowers, including California poppies, lacy phacelias, bentham lupines, and California tickseeds. These flower fields offer a unique opportunity for wildflower admirers to immerse themselves in a less-crowded, explosion of natural color.

California is home to some of the most beautiful wildflowers in the world. From desert blooms to seaside flowers, there's no shortage of breathtaking locations and jaw-dropping displays. Be sure to plan your trip during the peak-flowering season, which is usually between March and May, to experience nature at its most stunning peak. From the iconic California poppy to vibrant patches of bluebells, lupines, and hillside daisies, the Golden State certainly lives up to its name.