#superbloom Road Trip
April 19, 2017 3:44 PM   Subscribe

I want to take a solo road trip from the SF Bay Area this weekend to go see amazing displays of wildflowers. I know next to nothing about wildflowers, the southern half of California, and the hiking/camping/nature found in Southern California. Help me re: flower destinations, itinerary feedback, and things I should check out. Is Carrizo Plain my best bet?

So, I don't know much about wildflowers, but #superbloom on Instagram and a need for some self-care is leading me to take a solo roadtrip this weekend. I'm not knowledgeable about wildflowers, nor do I care much about seeing rare varieties - I just want crazy saturated hillsides of millions of flowers. Hopefully there's some camping and hiking involved, and many hours driving while listening to podcasts.

1) Destination: right now I'm thinking about checking out Carrizo Plain National Monument, based on this plus park info from April 16 saying "flowers are still abundant but past peak". The drive seems reasonable (5 hrs one way), and there's existing camp sites plus dispersed camping options.

I'd thought about Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve (I love poppies) but it seems past peak, super crowded, and further away.

Is Carrizo Plain going to be as busy as Antelope Valley - waiting 30+ minutes to get in the park, etc? (I know this is silly to ask given I got this trip idea from Instagram...)

My destination criteria is basically 1) close enough that i can manage driving to/from solo for a weekend trip and 2) camping is available, or cheap (<$100 per night) lodging is within an hour's drive 3) ridiculous amounts of bright flowers.

Is Carrizo Plain my best bet? Can you recommend other good/better wildflower viewing options for Apr 22-23 weekend that meet my criteria? Things that might not yet have passed their peak?

Google mentioned Los Padres National Forest as a good option, but it seems huge, and recent photos don't seem quite as millions-of-flowers as I am hoping for.

2) Itinerary: my rough plan is either:

a) depart SF Friday after work and stay someplace off 101 along the way Friday night (King City?), drive and hike and see flowers and camp at Carrizo Saturday, hike and see flowers and drive at Carrizo or someplace else on Sunday as well as drive home to SF Sunday night


b) depending on another commitment, I might have to leave SF Saturday midmorning, then proceed as above, camping at Carrizo Saturday night, with most of my Carrizo flower enjoyment happening Sunday

Are A or B a crazy amount of driving for one person? I used to be fine driving 8 hours at a time for long weekend trips (i love audiobooks), but I haven't done road trips in awhile.

Should I plan to spend time hiking and looking at flowers at Carrizo on Saturday and Sunday, or is one day enough and I should do outside-y things at a second place on Sunday?

3) Any recommendations for other things to check out or places to stop along the way or nearby? Other nature must-sees, specific hikes, good food, etc?

Assume I have these parts covered:

1) I know I have to bring my own water as well as drink a lot of water.
2) I know services are minimal, cell service is spotty, and will fill up on gas.
3) I've camped / hiked as a solo lady and understand the safety aspects. But do please chime in with anecdotes like "I saw a mountain lion there once" and "there are rattlesnakes everywhere" if you have experience with that at these destinations.
4) Other people will have my itinerary and expect me to check in on Sunday night.
5) I've reserved an SUV for this.
posted by soleiluna to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Previously
posted by soleiluna at 3:52 PM on April 19, 2017

Slightly closer to you would be North Table Mountain, which is up near Oroville Dam. With all the wet this year, I would imagine it's still going strong, but you'd want to get local confirmation. It is incredible. Definitely millions of flowers, in huge drifts, with some spectacular seasonal waterfalls and basalt cliffs.
posted by bricoleur at 4:36 PM on April 19, 2017 [2 favorites]

Desert USA has decent updates for regional wildflower spotting, including Northern CA and the Northwest. Currently, the latest update is March 29, 2017 for North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Oroville, CA, but iNaturalist's North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve Check List has some flower (and fauna) updates from into April 2017, so there might still be something closer to your home.

If you can't find any more current information, you can always contact Region 2 Interpretive Services (CA Department of Fish and Wildlife), as they might be the best source for local information.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:00 PM on April 19, 2017

Travel the airline hi-way Ca 25 from Gilroy to Ca 198 use the Parkfield Grade road to Cholame Jct. use the bitterwater road to Ca hi-way 58 soda lake road to hi-way 166 Hudson ranch road, frazier park road to Gorman Ca. 138 to the poppy reserve , most scenic way possible. free camping at KCL and Selby in Carriza NM.
posted by hortense at 9:54 PM on April 19, 2017

I saw a ton of flowers down 395. I bet there still are many south from Big Pine.
posted by persona au gratin at 11:51 PM on April 19, 2017

A road trip south would be quite a great trip...and long! And it appears that it may be too late now that a surprise snowfall just occurred! see news article Remember the Southern California super bloom? Now those flowers are covered in snow.

A shorter trip that will give you the opportunity to see beautiful wildflowers is to drive the north along the coast, especially at Sea Ranch area and Point Arena at the Stornetta National Landmark. Folks have been sharing their photos with us in our FB Travel Group . The Sonoma and Mendocino coastal counties had lots of rain this winter too and now its showing in the bloom.

If you do go north be aware that there is road work going on along the coast highway 1. They are currently making cars go one-way only on the highway while they continue working on it. This means a wait for your turn to travel the road of up to 45minutes.

In my blog I list tips about where you can stop for rest and/or potty stops. Hope you find it helpful: - HIGHWAY 1 ROAD TRIP TIPS: WHERE TO GO WHEN YOU GOTTA GO

If you do go especially this weekend be sure you have a place to stay- book ASAP. It will be a VERY busy popular weekend especially at Sea Ranch with it's Architectural Tour and Wine Tasting Event. If you do make it up to Sea Ranch and surrounding area do join us on the FB group and share your photos for those of us who love to travel vicariously!
posted by dmartin336 at 1:12 PM on May 11, 2017

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