Eric Stoen of Travel Babbo flies to more than 20 countries a year, but rarely ventures more than two hours from his California home to experience what his state has to offer. The wildflower bloom this year was a perfect chance to change that.
The Super Bloom
It only occurs once every 10-20 years, so when it does, you have to go. I’m talking about the super bloom of wildflowers at Anza-Borrego State Park, which is happening right now – millions of seeds erupting in a riot of colors, brought to life by unusually heavy winter rains.
Anza-Borrego is California’s largest state park, roughly two hours east of San Diego and 3-4 hours from Los Angeles and Ventura counties. I drove down last week and met up with friends. Our intent was to stay in a hotel. Unfortunately Borrego Springs has enough hotels for a normal tourist season, which is to say that there are far too few rooms to house the tens of thousands of visitors who are drawn to the park when the flowers bloom. So I camped – for the first time in 15 years. It was easy to go online and rent a space at the Borrego Springs Palm Canyon campground. So easy, in fact, that the kids and I are already planning future camping around California.
Arriving in Anza-Borrego
Driving down from central California, the flowers actually started early into my 4.5 hour journey, dotting the hillsides along the freeways. The golden poppies around Lake Elsinore are particularly stunning. I honestly couldn’t re-create my route if I tried, relying on the Waze App to get me to Anza-Borrego, but eventually I was on the S22, coming over the mountains and into Borrego Valley and Borrego Springs. There are numerous pullouts to allow for photos of the valley. I took advantage.
Then it was through the valley, past the town and into the campground. I had brought camping chairs, but they weren’t necessary. Our group space had several tables, benches, a campfire ring, and a grill. We set up camp and headed to the flowers.
For an entire afternoon, we enjoyed the flowers of Henderson Canyon. We ran. We had a picnic. We put the cameras down (mostly) and enjoyed the sunset. Worth the drive? Absolutely, especially knowing that the valley won’t look like this again for at least a decade.
The camp site worked out well for a night, and sunrise was absolutely stunning. Only about a third of the campers around us seemed to be watching the sunrise. The sleepers missed out!
On the way out of the park you pass by fields of boulders, hinting at the landscape when it’s not as colorful – which is pretty much the rest of the year. There’s a beauty to the desert. As pretty as it is, though, it’s better with flowers.
If you’re in California, head out this month and see the flowers. They’re everywhere, and they won’t last long. And if you miss it this year, look for a bloom next year. It could be in Death Valley. It could be Joshua Tree. But definitely take advantage and go – even if you have to camp. I love the ease of hotels, but I have a newfound respect for roughing it a little – not that camping in California is all that rough!
Where to Stay
If you’re heading to Borrego Springs and you don’t want to camp, book a hotel in advance. La Casa del Zorro, Borrego Springs Resort Golf Club and Spa, the Borrego Valley Inn and Palm Canyon Hotel are located in town.
Eric Stoen is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad. Gnational Gnomads is an exclusive group of high-profile travel and lifestyle experts who offer tips and inspiration on behalf of Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity Gnational Gnomads, visit TravelocityGnomads.com.
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