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Your chance to see Southern California’s epic wildflower bloom is running out. Here’s where to go

Photos of Southern California’s epic wildflower bloom have probably flooded your Instagram and Facebook feeds for weeks. The recent healthy rainy season has transformed the region’s usually brown hills into brilliant shades of red, orange and lavender.

But as spring turns to summer, you may have only a few weeks left in some areas to see it yourself. Below are a few places to start your search. Before you go, we recommend calling the Wildflower Hotline at (818) 768-1802, Ext. 7, open until May 26, for the latest updates.

Visitors explore the poppy-filled hillside off Highway 15 in Walker Canyon Temescal Mountains, near Lake Elsinore.
Visitors explore the poppy-filled hillside off Highway 15 in Walker Canyon Temescal Mountains, near Lake Elsinore. (Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Lancaster

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

The blinding orange blooms on the east side of the park and the soft purple lacy phacelia started fading the first week in April. Poppies are starting to bloom in the western slopes, and they could last into late April or early May. Check out the road-side blooms outside the reserve; they’re just as impressive.

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People stop at the site of California poppies in roads around Lancaster.
People stop at the site of California poppies in roads around Lancaster. (Mary Forgione)

Borrego Springs

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

As of early April, most of the desert lilies, sand verbena and desert sunflowers that put on a super-bloom show had faded. They started at the end of February and peaked in mid-March. But that doesn’t mean the show is over. You can catch yellow stands of brittlebush, red-tipped ocotillo and cactus blooming in the desert. Those who hike to higher elevations above the desert floor may find some wildflowers just starting to pop.

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A plant called milk vetch is blooming this wildflower season in the Fish Creek area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.
A plant called milk vetch is blooming this wildflower season in the Fish Creek area of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. (Steve Bier / Anza-Borrego Foundation)

Santa Margarita

Carrizo Plain National Monument

The wildflowers blooming on the plain and surrounding foothills have been nothing short of epic. They’ll stick around only until the third week in April. Go now if you have any hope of seeing hillsides that look like they’ve been touched by an artist’s paintbrush.

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Hikers at the Temblor Range on the east side of Carrizo Plain National Monument.
Hikers at the Temblor Range on the east side of Carrizo Plain National Monument. (U.S. Bureau of Land Management)

Chino Hills

Chino Hills State Park

The poppy fields that put on a great show in March are pretty much gone. In early April, the park’s Facebook page noted there are a few patches of wildflowers along Bane Canyon Road. For the most part, the show’s over.

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Wildflowers bloom at Chino Hills State Park in Chino Hills on March 12.
Wildflowers bloom at Chino Hills State Park in Chino Hills on March 12. (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images)

Carlsbad

The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

These aren’t California wildflowers but they sure are stunning. Brightly colored ranunculus put on an amazing show in fields you can stroll through and snap selfies. The fields are open until May 14.

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The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch is back with 50 acres of endless color.
The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch is back with 50 acres of endless color. (Marcie Gonzalez)

Joshua Tree

Joshua Tree National Park

Desert wildflowers are past peak but you may find some holdouts along the trail to Mastodon Peak where poppies and blue chia put on a nice display. Head out on the easy quarter-mile loop trail at the Cholla Cactus Garden to catch some showy blooms amid the prickly plants.

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A Joshua tree in bloom near the national park east of Los Angeles.
A Joshua tree in bloom near the national park east of Los Angeles. (Kevin Wong / Joshua Tree National Park Assn.)

Malibu

Point Mugu State Park

The fields of poppies and shooting stars are past peak in many parts of the park, but shrubs like sage and ceanothus keep the show going. Flowers such as paintbrush, phacelia and everlasting likely will be blooming later too. Best to hike into other parts of the Santa Monica Mountains as more plants start to pop.

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California poppies and lupine along the trail to Mugu Peak.
California poppies and lupine along the trail to Mugu Peak.

San Juan Capistrano

Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park

Ronald W. Caspers Wilderness Park in San Juan Capistrano has California poppies but also varieties of lupine, bright red coastal paintbrush and big white swords of chaparral yucca. The place to see it all is the East Ridge Trail.

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The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

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