BIG BLOOM: Blankets of hillside daisies light up the Temblor Range above the Carrizo Plain National Monument. | Credit: Melinda Burns
Channel Islands Restoration will host a sightseeing visit at Carrizo Plain National Monument on April 24. | Credit: Courtesy Channel Islands Restoration

It’s something like a California rainbow. After years of steady drought and fires, heavy rainfall quenches the earth and reawakens dormant native wildflower seeds, sprouting “superblooms” across the state and attracting snap-happy visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the rare phenomenon blanketing the hillsides in vibrant swaths of yellow, blue, purple, and orange.

California’s wildflowers used to cover the landscape hundreds of years ago, when native flowers like the orange and yellow poppies were so prevalent during springtime that Chumash storytellers said the Channel Islands shone like gold in the sun. Nowadays, decades of sparse rainfall and wildfires have made the superblooms far less common. In fact, only every decade or so do conditions line up for wildflowers to make such an appearance, and the last time similar record-setting rainfall sprouted a psychedelic superbloom in Santa Barbara was back in 2019.

Now they’re back, resurrected by the recent deluge of winter rainstorms, painting the coastline and valleys in dreamlike shades of color for at least the next few weeks.

Shell Creek Road in San Luis Obispo County, a connector to Highway 58 and the Carrizo Plain, is a premier spot for wildflowers in Central California, especially after big rains. A showy bloom of baby blue eyes, goldfields and tidy tips along the creek is a magnet for springtime sightseers. | Credit: Melinda Burns

At Shell Creek Road and the Carrizo Plain National Monument, just a few hours north of Santa Barbara, the grasslands and creeksides are covered in a kaleidoscope of poppies, lupines, goldfields, fiddlenecks, phacelias, and owl’s clover, with the Temblor Range turned a bright shade of daisy yellow in the background.

On social media, visitors are sharing photos of more local hotpots where these blooms can be found: chocolate lilies, shiny buttercups, milkmaids, shooting stars, baby blue eyes, buttercups, and Johnny jump-ups at Grass Mountain, Figueroa Mountain, and New Cuyama, or hundreds of native plant species blooming at Point Mugu State Park and Channel Islands National Park.

In the city, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden offers a closer place for visitors to check out a variety of native plants, including yellow tiny tips, purple Arroyo lupines, and orange California poppies. 

On April 24, Channel Islands Restoration will be hosting guided day trips at Carrizo Plains, where guests will be led on a tour through the area while learning about the ecology, geology and history of the plains. To sign up, or for more information, visit the event page

Central California’s wildflower bloom is expected to last through April, and northern areas of the state could see superblooms into the summertime.

Do you have photos from your own superbloom adventure? Send them as attachments, including photo credit, to to be featured in online superbloom photo gallery!


Please note this login is to submit events or press releases. Use this page here to login for your Independent subscription

Not a member? Sign up here.