If you were on any social media platform this spring, you undoubtedly saw breathtaking shots of California’s Super Bloom. For those not familiar with the term, a super bloom is simply an outbreak of flowers that exceeds the norm. They tend to occur about once a decade on average in California, but this is the second in three years.
Super Blooms often draw crowds from far and wide to experience bright green rolling hills painted in the bright colors of wildflowers. For some, however, traveling to a Super Bloom may not be a viable option. Geography, work schedules, or an aversion to crowds can all be barriers to witnessing the Bloom for your self.
This year, traveling to Southern California to see the Super Bloom was not in the cards for us. It was just too far for a Weekend Warrior excursion (our favorite), and we already had several longer road trips planned for the summer. In an effort to make the most of our circumstances, we decided to set out on our own wildflower hunt closer to home. What we found was a beautiful getaway that even allowed us to slip in a few educational experiences for our little ones.
Going on Our Own Wildflower Hunt
About an hour drive from our home in Silicon Valley is Del Valle Regional Park, nestled in the Ohlone Wilderness Area in Livermore, CA. It provided the perfect backdrop for a quick weekend getaway and gave us the opportunity to take in all the beauty that spring in California has to offer.
The road into the park was flanked by hills sprinkled with purple and yellow flowers, which let us know we wouldn’t have to look far to find some wildflowers. We were excited to begin exploring, but we have learned when hiking with our kids that sometimes a bit of creativity can make the magic last a little longer.
Wildflowers, Ohlone Regional Wilderness Area
Tips for a Great Wildflower Hunting Adventure
There’s an App for That
If you own a smartphone, there are a variety of apps that will turn any wildflower adventure into an educational opportunity. We downloaded the ‘Northern California Wildflower’ app, which was helpful in identifying wildflowers we encountered. By entering information such as type of plant (shrub, vine, wildflower, etc.), color, or leaf arrangement, then entering the date and elevation, we were able to learn about the plant life in the area and were better equipped to identify the vast variety of flowers we encountered.
Wildflowers, Ohlone Regional Wilderness Area
Who Doesn’t Love a Scavenger Hunt?
In preparation for our weekend adventure, we did a little research on the regional park’s website and were thrilled to find a helpful guide that detailed the flowers and plant life native to the area.
We were able to print a few of the photos and give them to the kids with the instruction to be on the lookout for these particular blooms. Who would be the first to find a Bush Monkey Flower or an Ookow Flower? This kept them engaged and focused on finding floral treasures, each time earning points that could be redeemed later for a treat at the campground store.
Wildflowers, Big Sur, CA
Other Places to See Wildflowers in the U.S.
For those who have the ability to travel farther out, or want to plan an epic trip around a seasonal bloom, we’ve compiled some other great flower-viewing spots around the country.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
Anza-Borrego Desert attracts thousands of visitors each year. Here you’ll spot purple phacelias, dune primrose and desert lilies. Expect crowds, but also expect to see some beautiful wildflowers.
Crested Butte, Colorado
The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival takes place in July and includes hikes and tours. It also helps raise awareness of environmental issues and the importance of preserving wildflowers.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Here, flower season begins in May and lasts throughout the summer. As with many national parks, you can expect crowds in the summer. However, it will be worth it, not only to enjoy beautiful flowers, but everything else the park has to offer.
Mt Rainier, Washington
Pink calypso orchids, white Indian pipes, and purple gentians all let Mt. Rainier know she’s not the only beauty in town. The peak of blooms will occur in mid-July and by early August you should expect some spectacular views.
White Mountains, New Hampshire
This area boasts the Annual Celebration of Lupines. Visitors love these Instagram-ready blooms, which are also known to attract butterflies that will show they are equally as stunning.
Important Note: It should go without saying, but we’ll say it anyway. Please don’t disrupt wildflowers. With the rise in social media, there has been a lot of coverage about people trampling over flowers to get that perfect picture. Remember everything in nature serves a purpose and it’s our job to protect it.
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Mother Nature loves to show off her beauty in the spring and summer months, and we are here for it. Although we didn’t make it to a proper Super Bloom this year, we did have a great time discovering the beauty right in our own backyard. Whether adventuring to hills or the coast, we didn’t have to travel far to enjoy vibrant colors of the season.