Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Wildflowers: All Bloomed Out


Last updated 4/11/2024 at 12:52pm

The anticipated wildflower bloom of 2024 was wonderful while it lasted, and the sound you hear now is the community sigh of relief as things return to a more normal pace.

The wildflowers are partially gone. Or are they?

Yes, the traffic jams from windshield wildflower watchers, the WWW’s, are gone, you can actually get a seat at a local restaurant, and still there are plenty of wildflowers to enjoy.

Let’s call this the season of the Secret Garden. Gone are the vast fields of desert sunflowers, sand verbena and dune primrose that could easily be enjoyed from the car window as you explored Borrego’s backroads.

Those attracted the crowds and brought good business to Borrego Springs. The community was prepared this year and visitors left happy, hopefully to return again.

In 2017, the Super Bloom was confined to Borrego Springs locales, and it drew an overwhelming crush of visitors over two weekends. In 2019, a huge bloom, not really considered a Super Bloom, also attracted many to the glorious wonders of flowers.

This year, the blooms began at Henderson Canyon in Borrego and were spread out in both time and geography from Ocotillo Wells to near Truckhaven Trail, along the traditional DiGiorgio Road locales, so visitors had many choices.

Now, hikers who enjoy solitude and covering a few miles of desert can discover some of the late bloomers. Generally, these will not be clusters of flowers, but rather small, secret gardens discovered while wandering around.

As temperatures grow, the smart late spring flower hunter will be out early, have a good hat, sturdy boots and plenty of water.

The nice thing about the desert is you don’t have to be confined to a trail. You can wander a wash and let gravity pull you along. You can head out across open country and let terrain and curiosity be your magnetic compass.

And what are you likely to find?

Cacti are traditionally late bloomers, and April is a good time to see them in the Anza-Borrego Desert. The almost neon magenta of the beavertail cactus, the yellow-green blossoms of cholla, or the yellowish crown of flowers on barrel cactus are just starting to emerge.

With a keen eye, look for the delicate white flowers of the tiny fishhook cactus tucked into rocky hillsides along the edge of desert washes.

You might smell the fragrant perfume of the indigo bush long before you see the deep purple flowers that resemble small sweetpeas.

The tall stocks of agave are now showing beautiful clusters of yellow blossoms and in many areas the bright red, waxy flowers of the Ocotillo are emerging.

At press time, there were still good displays of purple phacelia coloring the shoulder of the road along S-2 in the southern part of the park.

Heading up Montezuma Grade, the happy brittlebush continues to grow, and a few Parish’s poppies still dance in the spring breeze.

At upper elevations around Culp Valley there are yellow fiddlenecks blossoms. These are popular with both Lesser and Lawrence’s goldfinch. A subtle purple haze in the green grass are the tiny flowers of filaree.

As days get warmer the palo verde trees will erupt with bright yellow flowers, and the desert willow will sport delicate white to purple blossoms.

This is a special time for desert lovers. Temperatures are still mild, crowds are gone, the brilliance of the night sky is coming alive with the Milky Way and there are secret gardens to be discovered.

Remember these Desert Safety Tips:

Check the Weather: Temperatures can vary drastically during the day. Avoid canyons if there is a chance of rain; flash flooding can happen rapidly.

Stay Hydrated: Carry ample water, especially during warmer weather. Dehydration can occur quickly in the dry desert environment.

Protect Yourself: Wear sunscreen, a hat, and lightweight clothing to shield yourself from the sun’s intense rays.

Watch for Wildlife: Including snakes and insects, while exploring the desert landscape. Give animals plenty of space and avoid disturbing their natural behaviors.

Know Your Vehicle: Most dirt roads in the park require high clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicles. Check road conditions here. We encourage you to travel with a second vehicle when driving on dirt roads.

Safety: Cell phone coverage is spotty or nonexistent. Bring a first aid kit and become familiar with it. Leave an itinerary of your trip with a family member or friend and expected return date.