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Flowers & Herbs,  Pollinators & Wildlife

Spectacular California Wildflower Superbloom 2023 Photos

Last Updated on July 24, 2023

I’m not gonna lie… the intense, record-breaking rain that we received this winter in California was pretty frustrating at times. Many parts of the state were hit with flooding, sink holes, mudslides, and destructive storm surges. Our home suffered water damage that we’re still in the process of repairing too. On the other hand, it’s fantastic to see our reservoirs full, groundwater recharging… and the hills absolutely covered with wildflowers this spring! So much so, the 2023 California wildflower superbloom was visible from space!

We ventured out on a couple day trips in search of wildflowers over the last few weeks, and the sights were so spectacular, I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you here. I broke them up into two sections below: our visit to Highway 58/Carrizo Plain, and our local Montana de Oro State Park – my favorite. Enjoy the scroll, and happy spring!

Disclaimer: Stay On Trails!

It’s always important to respect nature and stay on trails when you’re out visiting wild spaces – and even more so when it comes to wildflowers! Delicate annual wildflowers are easily trampled and crushed, and when that happens, they can’t spread seed to regenerate future flowers to come. While it may be tempting to get that perfect shot, or even sit down for a dreamy picnic, please stay on trails and do not step on flowers! All photos shown below are taken from trails or roadside.

Don’t miss all the gorgeous oceanside blooms, cows, otters, and more in the Montana de Oro section below!

Places to See Wildflowers (near the Central Coast)

Carrizo Plain

One trip took us out Highway 58 from Santa Margarita to Carrizo Plain National Monument. The brightly colored fields and hills were jaw-dropping, but most of that day was spent in the car, stopping at various eye-catching spots along the way. We mostly saw California native wildflower fiddlenecks, goldfields, baby blue eyes, purple heliotrope, and Indian paintbrush out towards Carrizo Plains, with plenty of poppies, tidy tips, lupine, and goldfields just outside of Santa Margarita.

Carrizo Plains is about a 4-hour round trip drive from home, but between all the stops and some car troubles we encountered when we first got on the road, it turned into a very long, full-day adventure. I wanted to do the Painted Rock hike to stretch our legs, but apparently the sensitive habitat is usually closed during the spring.

If you ever visit Carrizo Plain, plan in advance! It’s a very remote location with no gas, no services (minus some porta-potties at the visitor center) and limited cell service. Gas up, pack food and water, sun protection, Bug Off Balm, and other supplies you may need.

Yellow common fiddleneck (Amsinckia intermedia)
Baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and purple heliotrope (Phacelia crenulata)
A sea of tidytips and poppies
I spy goldfields and Indian paintbrush among the poppies and tidytips!

Montana de Oro State Park

My favorite wildflower outing this spring was our hike along the Point Buchon Trail at the end of Montana de Oro State Park, just 40 minutes from home. Unfortunately, we just missed the poppy peak by a week or two (the grasses had started to grow tall around them, hiding a lot of the shorter wildflowers) but the experience and 7-mile oceanside hike was still breathtaking. I much prefer being able to hike, move my body, and take in the sights, smells, and sounds along the ocean while enjoying the wildflowers – compared to the slightly more touristy, grab-your-photos-and-run, car-based experience of Carrizo Plains. My soul needed this!

On this hike, we saw plenty of poppies and lupine, along with some goldfields. We also got to see quail, otters, snakes, butterflies, ample birds, and other wildlife friends along the way.

We were wading through thigh-high lupine on some parts of this trail!
Good thing we packed our Bug Off Balm to keep the mosquitoes, ticks, and pesky no-see-ums away!
It was extra special to see groups of otters bobbing in the kelp. We said goodbye to our kitty Dalai the day before this hike. She was almost 18, our first ever cat together, and we often called her “otter”.
Watch where you step! We didn’t see any rattlesnakes today, but did come across this harmless gopher snake friend.
Happy cows graze near the end of Point Buchon Trail
Thanks for coming along!

Sheesh, Mother Nature sure is magnificent. Let’s do our best to take care of her, shall we?

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