Where to See California Poppies in Full Bloom (2022 Guide)

Where to See California Poppies

The best places to see California poppies and the perfect time to see them in full bloom.

Orange is the color of joy and optimism, and one of the best ways to boost your spirits this spring is by seeking out fields of magical California poppies in full bloom.

From forest-covered mountains and seaside meadows to cracks in a city sidewalk, these cheerful flowers are found across the Golden State (especially in March). 

California poppies are the state’s emblem, thought to represent the fields of gold that drew so many to the west. Indigenous Americans even once used California poppies as medicine to combat anxiety and as a sleep aid. 

Today, you can enjoy the flowers’ soothing properties simply by finding a quiet corner of a sunny meadow and soaking up the spectacular colors.

Don’t miss out on a rejuvenating wildflower walk this spring, find the best blooms with this guide on where to see poppies in California.

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Poppies in Full Bloom CA

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California Poppies Map

Where to Find California Poppies

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

Address: 15101 Lancaster Rd, Lancaster, CA 93536
GPS Coordinates: (34.7248870, -118.3968120)
How to get there: The entrance to the parking lot is on Lancaster Rd., 15 miles west of Highway 14. 
Contact info: (661) 724-1180
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: $10 to park

When the weather warms up, a quiet corner of northeast Los Angeles County bursts into life with California’s state flower. 

The Lancaster poppy fields have the perfect weather conditions for the California poppy, making it one of the best places to frolic amongst fields of orange in the Golden State. 

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is usually the best spot in Southern California to see the orange flowers when they bloom. 

The parking lot is small, so head here early to find a space, or park on Lancaster Road and walk to the entrance.

Stop in at the visitor center, or call the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve Wildflower Hotline on (661) 724-1180 for real-time updates on where to find the best displays. 

Most people head to South and North Loop trails, but there are sometimes better patches elsewhere depending on the year’s bloom.

If Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve is too crowded, head seven miles west to Arthur B. Ripley Desert Woodland. This is where poppies and wildflowers grow between otherworldly Joshua Trees.

Anza-Borrego State Park

Anza-Borrego State Park Poppies

Address: 200 Palm Canyon Dr., Borrego Springs, CA 92004
How to get there: Follow S22 north to Palm Canyon Dr., where you’ll turn left to find the visitor center.
Contact info: (760) 767-4205
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: $10 to park

Spring is the perfect time to visit the Colorado Desert when the temperatures are mild and wildflowers are at peak bloom. 

Ordinarily a barren (but still beautiful) landscape, the desert transforms into a meadow after a rainy winter. 

For the best displays of the California poppy and other flowers, like desert sunflower and desert lily, drive to Henderson Canyon Road in Anza-Borrego State Park.

Park rangers at the visitor center can tell you the best hikes for wildflower spotting. Otherwise, stop by the Desert Nature Center, run by the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association at 652 Palm Canyon Dr.

Carrizo Plain National Monument

Carrizo Plain National Monument Poppies

Address: 17495 Soda Lake Rd, Santa Margarita, CA 93453
How to get there: Travelling from the north, access Soda Lake Road from California State Route 58. From the south, take California State Route 33 or 166.
Contact info: (805) 475-2131
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: Free

This hidden gem in California’s Central Valley explodes with color after a wet winter. 

Carrizo Plain National Monument is close enough to Los Angeles or San Luis Obispo for a day trip and is perfect for a spring hike.

The grasslands, fringed by mountains, represent a California of the past before farming and cities changed the landscape forever. 

In the spring, the meadows are filled with poppies, goldfield, tidy tips, and purple phacelia.

Take the trail to Overlook Hill for sweeping views of the valley. You can also get close up with the spring flowers on Seven Mile Road, a dirt road that forms part of a scenic loop through the park.

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park Poppies

Address: 1925 Las Virgenes Rd., Cornell, CA  91301
How to get there: From Highway 101, exit at Las Virgenes Rd., then head south.
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: $12 to park

Combine a refreshing cliff stroll with a wildflower walk in the Santa Monica Mountains at Malibu Creek State Park

This popular state park, just 25 miles outside downtown Los Angeles, was once a filming lot for movies and the TV series, M*A*S*H.

You can still visit the remains of the set by hiking Crags Road Trail, which is also a great route to see the poppies that frame the edges of the path. 

While walking, look out for rare chocolate lilies, which bloom in the Santa Monica Mountains and are noted for their foul smell and unusual brown color.

Closer to the coast, Point Dume has stunning hiking trails along the bluffs, where you can enjoy wildflowers at your feet and views over the Pacific Ocean.

Looking for more to do in the area? Read our guide to the best things to do in Malibu, as well as the best Malibu beaches and hikes

Walker Canyon

Walker Canyon Poppies

Address: Lake St, Lake Elsinore, CA  92530
GPS: (33.7305751, -117.3917085)
How to get there: Park on the Walker Canyon Road shoulder, just off I-15.
Contact info: (858) 467-4201
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: Free 

During the last super bloom in California, back in 2019, thousands of visitors flocked to Lake Elsinore to view the Southern California poppy fields that stretched to the horizon. 

For most of the year, there’s not much to see from the freeway that runs through the rolling hills outside Los Angeles in Riverside County. However, when the conditions are right, Walker Canyon is ablaze with color.

Take the exit for Lake St. from I-15, park on the shoulder, then head up the trail into the hills.

Just keep in mind that parking is limited. In 2019, a shuttle service was set up to take people from the Lake Elsinore Outlets to the trailhead, so this is a good option in a super bloom year.

Chino Hills State Park

Chino Hills State Park Poppies

Address: 4721 Sapphire Rd, Chino Hills, CA 91709
How to get there: Head east from Los Angeles along Highway 60, before taking Highway 71 southbound. Take the exit at Soquel Canyon Pkwy., then left onto Elinvar Dr.
Contact info: (951) 780-6222
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: $10

Chino Hills State Park is one of the best places to see Southern California wildflowers in the spring.

The Bane Ridge Trail starts from the parking lot and climbs through lush green hills. As you hike further and higher along this trail, you’ll start to see the poppies peeking through the greenery.

Little purple flowers called “blue dicks” are also usually interspersed through the orange, perfectly contrasting the poppies. 

It’s a great walk in early spring but there’s no shade on these grassy hills, so it’s not a hike for a hot day.

Hite Cove

Hite Cove Poppies

Address: 4938 Hites Cove Trail, El Portal, CA 95318
GPS coordinates: (37.6536582, -119.8862970)
How to get there: The trailhead is about eight miles out from the Yosemite National Park El Portal entrance, just off Highway 140 at the Yosemite Redbud Lodge.
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: Free

The Hite Cove Trail is an out-and-back path leading to an abandoned mining settlement, located just outside Yosemite National Park

If you’re headed to Yosemite in the spring, this is an ideal stop for a quick wildflower hike in the Sierras.

The trail follows the meandering Merced River on its journey toward the ocean. 

This area can get pretty hot in the summer but in March, the temperatures are cool and the California poppy is abundant. 

The poppies and blue lupine are best at the start of the trail, for the first two miles, so you don’t have to venture too far along if you’re short on time. 

Aside from the California poppy, look out for baby blue eyes and purple fiesta flowers on this route.

Read our two days in Yosemite itinerary.

Mount Diablo State Park

Mount Diablo State Park Poppies

Address: 1300 North Gate Road, Walnut Creek, 94598
How to get there: From Walnut Creek, take Walnut Ave., then go right at the traffic circle onto Oak Grove Rd., then immediately left onto North Gate Rd.
Contact info: (925) 837-2525
Peak bloom: March to April
Cost: $10

Mount Diablo, one of the tallest peaks and best hikes in the San Francisco Bay Area, has California poppies year-round. 

The poppies are at their best in the spring, sometime between mid-March and April.

Mount Diablo State Park is usually the best place to see poppy fields in Northern California.

Most notably, you’ll find poppy fields near Rock City, the Mitchell Canyon-Eagle Loop, and the road past the South Gate Entrance. 

Ask for the latest updates at the visitor center, located at the summit of Mount Diablo, which is also worth checking out for the majestic views of the Bay Area and beyond.

Looking for more to do in the area? Read our guides to the best things to do in San Francisco, best hikes in San Francisco, what to do at night in San Francisco, and our guide to hiking the Berkeley Fire Trails and Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve

Figueroa Mountain

Figueroa Mountain Poppies

Address: 9007 Figueroa Mountain Rd, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
GPS coordinates: (34.7348620, -119.9858500)
How to get there: From Los Olivos, head out on Figueroa Mountain Rd., and park at Figueroa Campground.
Contact info: (805) 925-9538
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: Free

Venture into Los Padres National Forest for wildflowers, lush meadows, and forested mountains. Spring brings a profusion of wildflowers, including poppies, lupines, and goldfields.

You’ll find spring blooms all along the road leading up to Figueroa Mountain, and there are plenty of hiking trails where you can find a California poppy field of your own. 

The slopes of Grass Mountain, visible from the road as you drive in, are blanketed in orange poppies when they bloom.

Gorman Hills Flower Fields

Gorman Hills Flower Fields Poppies

Address: Gorman, CA 93243
GPS coordinates: 34.79264 N, 118.846951 W
How to get there: From Los Angeles, take I-5 up to Gorman.
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: Free

Ordinarily, I-5 is a pretty boring stretch of highway through California. But in springtime, the hills around Gorman, a town one hour north of Los Angeles, explode with color.

Orange poppies dot the hills, accented with blues and purples to create a beautiful canvas you can view from the road. 

If you’re planning to visit Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, Gorman Hills flower fields make a great side trip.

Take the exit at Ralphs Ranch Road and get your shots from the roadside.

Looking for more flowers? Read our guide to the best flower fields in California.

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve Poppies

Address: 2488 Cherokee Rd, Oroville, CA 95965
GPS coordinates: (39.5980037, -121.5556526)
How to get there: From Sacramento, head north on Highway 70 for 90 minutes, taking exit 48 for Grand Ave. Go left on 2nd Ave., right onto Nelson, then take Cherokee Rd.
Contact info: (916) 358-2900
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: $4.89 per person for a Land’s Pass.

North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is a mesa above Orville with stunning wildflowers, beautiful waterfalls, and miles of trails. 

Spring is the best season to explore this Northern California gem when the hills are covered in orange California poppies and purple lupines.

Phantom Falls is the most popular hike at Table Mountain, as it leads to a spectacular waterfall. And spring is the best time to see California’s waterfalls when they’re in peak flow. 

Wildflowers accompany you along the four-mile out-and-back trek.

Point Buchon

Address: Pecho Valley Road, Montaña de Oro State Park, Los Osos, CA 93402
GPS coordinates: 35.257964, -120.887483 (35° 15′ 28.67″N 120° 53′ 14.93″W)
How to get there: From Los Osos, take Pecho Valley Rd. to the Coon Creek parking lot, then head to the trail attendant station to check in.
Contact info: (805) 528-8758, [email protected]
Peak bloom: Mid-March
Cost: Free

Point Buchon is the best place to get a shot of the Pacific Ocean as a background to your California poppy pictures. This trail is a little unusual compared to other poppy locations, but worth it.

After parking, your first stop is the trailhead check-in station, where you’ll have to sign a waiver and get permission to continue. 

This extra step is because the trail passes through land belonging to PG&E, which operates a nuclear reactor here. 

Only 275 hikers a day are allowed through here, so turn up early (the check-in station opens at 8 am to secure your pass.

Once you’re through, you’ll find a trail down to the cliffs, which is steep in parts, but you’ll be surrounded by a field of California poppies.

Tips for Visiting California Poppies

Tips for Visiting California Poppies
  • Call the Wildflower Hotline: (760) 767-4684 for updates on California poppy fields.
  • Visit mid-morning: after the poppies have opened up but before the afternoon winds disturb the blooms. Sunset is also a good time.
  • Come prepared to hike with good shoes, plenty of water, and snacks.
  • Get down low to take pictures of the orange flowers with a blue sky as the background for a more impressive shot.
  • Stick to the trail, as wild California poppies are delicate and easily destroyed by trampling.

FAQs About California Poppies

FAQs About California Poppies

Is it illegal to pick California poppies?

It’s illegal to pick any flower on state or federal land, punishable by a fine of up to $1000 or six months in jail.

If you want to grow your own poppies and pick them, go right ahead. They’re very easy to grow from seed and will re-seed themselves year after year. 

One thing to note – California poppies don’t make for good bouquets. The petals fall off immediately after picking.

When do California poppies bloom?

It depends on when rain falls, but typically California poppies are at their best in the second week of March. California poppy fields are often gone at the end of April.

How long do California poppies bloom?

California poppies bloom for a short period in spring, usually between two and four weeks. Wildflower season is short, so don’t miss your opportunity.

What is the California super bloom?

Just enough rain falls in just enough time, the weather warms up at the right moment, and the winds are not too strong.

When all these weather events click into place, the California poppy seeds lying dormant seize their opportunity and bloom all at the same time. 

Millions of flowers pop up, seemingly overnight, transforming an apparently lifeless landscape into a riot of color.

The last California super bloom was in 2019 and social media fed a flower frenzy, leading to headlines around the world as visitors flocked to places like Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve and Walker Canyon.

Death Valley has one of California’s most famous super blooms. 

After a good soaking in November, plants grab their opportunity to bloom quickly and produce seeds in spring, before the climate becomes too hot and dry again.

During the last Death Valley super bloom in 2016, the desert became a sea of gold, purple, and white. 

Death Valley National Park Service has predicted an average bloom for 2022, but even average is beautiful, so Death Valley should be worth a visit this spring.

But even if California doesn’t get a super bloom, wildflowers are still abundant in California and always beautiful. 

Call the Wildflower Hotline on (818) 768-1802 for updates on this year’s bloom.

What to Pack When Visiting California Poppy Fields

What to Pack When Visiting California Poppy Fields

Get your FREE California Travel Planner – including printable checklists and my favorite two-week itinerary for the state. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Sarah McDonald

Sarah McDonald is a travel writer based in the Bay Area. She writes for the national parenting website Red Tricycle and on her own family travel blog, Tiny Trailblazers. She loves exploring California’s outdoors and has a weakness for a national park gift shop.


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Where to See California Poppies in Full Bloom (2022 Guide)

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