Arise slumbering seeds! A superbloom is expected this spring in southern California. And that means a corresponding boom of bloom peepers in the tiny town of Borrego Springs, right in the center of Anza-Borrego State Park. As the car drives, Borrego Springs is about 1-1/2 hours from Palm Springs, 2 hours from San Diego. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting California’s largest state park, whether the blooms are super or just regular. And regular is pretty super too, just so you know.
So…what is a superbloom? First of all, it’s pretty spectacular. If flowers were instruments, it’s a whole symphony. A carpet of vibrant purple flowers springing improbably from sand. Yellow prickly pear cactus, orange ocotillo. “Superbloom” is not a scientific term, but it describes the rare phenomenon of mass numbers of wildflowers exploding at once. It’s usually proceeded by a wet winter. The precipitation soaks the ground so that seeds–even ones sleeping dormant for years–wake up and bloom.
Start your trip at the Anza-Borrego State Park headquarters. A park map will point you to two flower fields on the northeast side of the park. The park rangers will give you the latest updates on what wildflowers are blooming and directions to them.
I had hiked Borrego Palm Canyon, and maybe, I thought, I was just tired. But imagine my surprise driving down Borrego Springs Road and seeing the outlines of huge beasts on the horizon. Really, this couldn’t have unfolded more perfectly. I did NOT know about the Galetta Meadows sculptures. Gargantuan camels, scorpions, mammoths, elephants, raptors and more rising like metal mirages in all directions. Sky high public art.
The story of Galetta Meadows begins with Dennis Avery. Avery was an heir to the Avery label fortune. (Strange combo of words, I know.) He commissioned about 130 sculptures for his land from Mexican artist Ricardo Breceda, starting in 2008.
Most startling is the 350-foot long dragon, which appears to be snaking under the highway. The park is open to the public every day of the year. Galette’s official website is down as of this writing, but you can get a map of the sculptures at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association, 652 Palm Canyon Dr. Or just drive around and be surprised.
On the west side of Anza-Borrego, trails starting from Culp Valley Primitive Campground offer great views of the valley and, when I was there, more wildflowers. Just a few more miles to the west, in the town of Ranchita, I notched my second supernatural sighting, after those mind-blowing Galetta critters. A pull-over quality Yeti. Probably to scale. Part abominable snowman, part Edgar Winter, part Kenny Rogers. Everything I want to believe in.
On the east side of Anzo-Borrego is the severe beauty of Borrego Badlands. Truckhaven Rocks jut from the earth at impossible angles.
In this desert landscape, I think it’s important to remember that looks can be deceiving. The land might look rugged, but it isn’t. The crust on the soil is delicate and shouldn’t be trampled. The flowers shouldn’t be picked. It’s all so very delicate and fleeting, which makes it all the more amazing.