Southern California may be known for its hot and dry landscapes (hello, Death Valley), but the normally arid region is currently awash in bright yellow, pink, and purple blooms, thanks to the state’s unusually plentiful showers this past winter. This is commonly known as a “super bloom”, a rare phenomenon in which an area’s number of wildflowers exceed typical spring blooms—in this case, millions of tiny blooms popping up in typically barren deserts and canyons.
In order for a super bloom to occur, there must be a perfect combination of rain and favorable temperatures (plus an absence of damaging winds), hence the rarity of the phenomenon. We usually only get to see a super bloom in California about once every decade, but this year’s bloom is only a couple years behind the second most recent occurrence in 2017. Two super blooms in two years? We’re here for it.
One of the best places to see poppies this year is Walker Canyon in Lake Elsinore, a lakeside city southeast of L.A. Since the flowers popped up in early March, about 1,000 people have swarmed the area every day, reports the Los Angeles Times, causing traffic to back up nearly 20 miles at times on the interstate. But if you can bear the traffic and crowds, you’ll be rewarded seas of purple, yellow, and orange wildflowers.
To get to the site from Los Angeles, exit Lake Street off Interstate 15 and turn onto Walker Canyon Road. Be sure to obey the parking signs and stay on the trail to avoid trampling the flowers. The Lake Elsinore Chamber of Commerce predicts the bloom will only be around for another week or so, at which point changing weather and hungry insects will strip the colors away.