I waited nearly a decade to experience Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in full bloom. I missed the superbloom in 2017, and last year when I visited the desert it was an arid landscape except for a few scattered barrel cactus blossoms.
Thanks to an incredibly wet winter in Southern California, Anza-Borrego is going off this year. Located northeast of San Diego in the Colorado Desert, this wild, remote place is truly a sight to behold.
Knowing that thousands of other people had the same idea of flocking to the desert on this particular weekend, we hit the road shortly after 4 a.m. to make sure we got ahead of the massive crowds and selfie-takers. After exiting I-15 south in Temecula, we drove past Palomar Mountain, Lake Henshaw, and green fields and hillsides strewn with horses and cows.
Shortly after turning onto Montezuma Valley Road, we drove down a steep mountain pass, which offered incredible views all the way to the Salton Sea and beyond.
We arrived in town shortly after sunrise and decided to begin exploring northwest of Borrego Springs at the park's visitor center. Our decision to get there early paid off, as we were one of the first cars to arrive in the parking lot. Immediately after paying the $10 day use fee, it was time to check out the wildflowers and explore the beautiful landscape. The weather was a lovely 82 degrees, perfect for a day of adventuring.
The wildflower updates that the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association provided were spot on, as well as the maps they provided online highlighting the best places to experience this year's bloom.
While driving to all the various hot spots, we must have stopped along the road countless times, especially along Henderson Canyon Road, Di Diorgio Road, Borrego Springs Road, and Palm Canyon Drive.
What did we see? Blonde dandelions, purple sand verbenas, golden poppies, bright yellow desert sunflowers, evening dune primrose, pink monkey flower, purple lupine, white desert chicory, and even whispering bells! Many times, we had the entire place to ourselves. It was peaceful. Thousands of butterflies fluttered around us. Birds chirped. The warm morning breeze made the flowers dance and the desert air was filled with their sweet scent.
Let's just say that it was worth the wait to experience these moments.
On the drive back home, we weren't surprised to see a traffic jam of cars attempting to visit the locations that were empty just a few hours before. Park rangers were even turning some people away from the visitor center and redirecting them elsewhere.
If you plan on seeing the short-lived superbloom, you should get out there soon (and get there early)! This kind of beauty is fleeting.