Carrizo Plain Superbloom

Experience the magic of the Superbloom in the Carrizo Plain, nature’s awe-inspiring display of wildflowers. Nestled in the California Valley, the Carrizo Plain enchants visitors with its breathtaking tapestry of vibrant blooms. Not guaranteed every year, superblooms are a rare sight to behold—and well worth the roadtrip. Plus, there’s more to explore: From the tranquil shores of Soda Lake to the ancient painted rocks left behind by Native Americans, there’s no shortage of wonders to experience during this colorful spring adventure. Read on for travel tips and the best places to view wildflowers during a superbloom in Carrizo Plain:

Table of Contents

What Causes the Superbloom

What causes a superbloom to occur? This amazing natural event is the result of environmental factors aligning at just the right time. Droughts followed by rainy weather can create the perfect conditions for a superbloom in Carrizo Plain. When this happens, an extended rainy season may lead to a diverse array of wildflowers blooming simultaneously across the vast landscape. The result is truly remarkable: colorful blooms as far as the eye can see. Each wildflower species boasts its own blooming window, ensuring a dazzling display throughout the spring season. Depending on the time visitors arrive, Carrizo Plain may be carpeted in dramatic hues of purple, orange or yellow.

Carrizo Plain Super Bloom
Vibrant blooms cover the Carrizo Plains

Superbloom Tips

Before embarking on a superbloom visit, be sure to prepare properly. Here are some tips from locals to enhance visitors’ superbloom viewing experience. Aim to visit Carrizo Plain towards the end of March when the Superbloom typically reaches its peak, showcasing nature’s vibrant colors in full bloom. Keep in mind that this is the rainy season, so be prepared with the right gear.

What to bring

Visitors to the Carrizo Plains should bring a fully-charged phone or camera to capture the mesmerizing scenery, binoculars for a closer look at the intricate details of the landscape and snacks and water to keep hydrated and energized throughout the day. Be sure to bring layered clothing to accommodate fluctuating temperatures and wear sunblock and sunglasses to protect against the bright California sun. Lastly, sturdy walking shoes are essential for comfortable and safe trekking.

Bathroom breaks

Additionally, plan bathroom breaks ahead of time, as facilities are limited in the superbloom viewing area.

Cellular service

Be mindful of limited cellular service in the Carrizo Plain and map the route in advance to avoid any navigational challenges. Cellular service may be sporadic or entirely absent in certain areas. It’s prudent to map out the journey in advance to ensure preparedness. Anticipate potential disruptions in connectivity and plan accordingly.

Mud alert

Exercise caution when pulling off the road to view flowers, as muddy conditions can pose major challenges for vehicles. As the superbloom coincides with the end of the rainy season, it may be tempting to pull off the side of the road to view vast fields of flowers. However, be wary, as even 4×4 vehicles can become ensnared in the mud prevalent along Carrizo’s highways. RVs, cars, and trucks alike have fallen victim to this hazard. Should travelers find themselves stuck, assistance may be scarce (tow services often hours away). It’s not uncommon to witness rows of vehicles stranded in unison, with well-meaning helpers finding themselves in need of rescue after attempting to render aid. Exercise caution and stick to designated areas to avoid getting stuck in potential mud.

Don’t trespass

While enjoying the superbloom, visitors may see fenced-off areas. These areas are private property and should be respected at all times. Please read and adhere to all posted signs.

Don’t trample

Wildflowers are precious to this unique California Valley landscape. While the superbloom is open to the public and generally features established walking paths, some terrain may be untouched and pristine. Refrain from walking on these delicate areas, instead sticking to well-worn walking areas. Visitors are also asked to consider local wildlife while in the area, with an emphasis on these helpful wildlife viewing tips. The local ecosystem thanks visitors in advance.

Shell Creek Road Superbloom
Walk the paths as you view the wildflowers

Superbloom Locations

Explore the best spots to witness the Superbloom and immerse yourself in the multicolored beauty of Carrizo Plain:

Shell Creek Meadows

Located at the intersection of Highway 58 and Shell Creek Road, this famous superbloom-viewing area offers stunning views of goldfields, coastal tidy tip, baby blue eyes, and California poppies. While there are wildflowers visible from many different pull-offs, this the best location to view the Carrizo Plain Superbloom.

Simmler Road

Accessible by rugged vehicles only, Simmler Road showcases a diverse range of wildflowers amidst its scenic landscapes. Remember, wet conditions can make this road excessively muddy, so be sure to bring a vehicle capable of tackling extreme conditions.

Caliente Mountain Ridge Trail

Recommended for adventurous travelers, this trail offers panoramic views of the Superbloom from flat terrain to mountain ridges.

7 Mile Road

Experience the beauty of the eastern side of Carrizo Plain, where 7 Mile Road intersects with Highway 58.

Carrizo Plains Wildflowers Shell Creek
The best spots to see the superbloom

Wildflower hotline

Stay updated on the latest superbloom developments. Simply contact the Wildflower Hotline, an invaluable resource for enthusiasts seeking real-time updates on Carrizo’s floral displays. Established in 1983, this hotline, hosted by Joe Spano, delivers weekly recordings from March through June, offering insights into the ever-changing landscape of California wildflowers. Conveniently accessible, the hotline’s brief, five-minute updates provide timely information to aid travelers in planning visits. Whether visitors prefer traditional phone calls or modern streaming platforms, the hotline caters to all preferences, with weekly recordings available at 818-768-1802 ext. 7 and via podcast on Spotify or Apple.

Carrizo Plain Wildflowers
Get up to date information from the Wildflower Hotline

Carrizo National Monument

Goodwin Education Center

Located off the beaten path near the National Monument, the Goodwin Education Center serves as an invaluable resource for visitors seeking information about the area. Open from December to May, Thursday through Sunday, 9 am to 4 pm, this center offers maps, knowledge and more to enhance visitors’ exploration of Carrizo Plain. Visit the center at 17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, CA 93453.

Painted Rock

Discover the awe-inspiring sandstone formations adorned with sacred images painted by Native Americans at Painted Rock. This site offers visitors the opportunity for exploration through either a BLM-guided tour or a self-guided tour with a permit, providing a glimpse into the rich cultural history of the region.

Overlook Hill Trail

For a panoramic view of the plain, embark on the Overlook Hill Trail. Located adjacent to Soda Lake, this trail offers a 360-degree perspective of the surrounding landscape. Embark on a brief, tenth-of-a-mile hike leading to a hilltop offering panoramic views of the lake below. From this elevated vantage point, the valley unfolds in all its scenic splendor. Don’t forget binoculars to fully appreciate the scenic vistas that await along this captivating trail.

Soda Lake and Boardwalk Trail

Marvel in the tranquility of Soda Lake by exploring the Boardwalk Trail. Soda Lake stands as one of California’s most expansive alkaline lakes, boasting a lack of natural drainage. Consequently, its waters remain stagnant until they gradually evaporate come summertime. This leisurely stroll along an elevated boardwalk allows visitors to observe the unique ecosystem surrounding the lake while enjoying the serenity of the natural surroundings.

San Andreas Fault

Witness the geological wonders of Carrizo Plain by observing the surface fractures of the San Andreas Fault. Located at the foot of the Temblor Range, these fractures are best viewed during the early morning or evening light, when the shadows accentuate their presence.

The Town (California Valley)

Visitors to Carrizo Plain often journey hundreds of miles to witness this specific superbloom. That said, it’s essential to understand that California Valley is a remote region with limited amenities. While it is conveniently located just miles from many of the best sites in Carrizo Plain, it offers minimal services to the public. The “town” itself consists of sparse infrastructure, including a rundown motel primarily rented to seasonal workers, which may not be suitable for accommodation. Additionally, there is a restaurant and a convenience store, although these businesses have been closed for years. Visitors will find basic facilities such as a fire station and a community center, where a portable restroom is available for use during the superbloom visit. It’s crucial to note that there are no other services within a 45-60 minute radius, so travelers are advised to bring their own supplies, including snacks, water, sunscreen and any other necessities, to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience amidst the remote beauty of Carrizo Plain.

Carrizo Plain National Monument
The Carrizo Plain National Monument

More Wildflowers Nearby

After enjoying the superbloom, take time to visit the surrounding areas, including coastal Highway 1. On this dynamic coastal route, discover mesmerizing ocean views and delectable cuisine with even more opportunities to view vibrant wildflower blooms. Explore an array of natural and cultural wonders along Highway 1, all in close proximity to the Pacific. For those seeking additional fun, Cayucos and Los Osos offer captivating experiences on the coast. To reach Cayucos, simply take the 58 to the 41, where visitors are greeted by a charming coastal town renowned for its scenic beauty and laid-back atmosphere. Alternatively, embark on a journey to Los Osos by taking the 58, then merging onto the 101 before finally reaching Highway 1. Nestled amidst stunning coastal landscapes, Los Osos promises unforgettable beaches, hiking trails and vistas.

Cayucos Wildflowers
Find colorful coastal views along Highway 1