El Niño Rains Expected to Bring Lots of Wildflowers


Debbie Sipe 


(530) 885-1624 

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Camp-California.com has identified campgrounds near many state parks that are popular with wildflower enthusiasts 


AUBURN, Calif., January 2016 — Wildflowers will soon be blooming in California State Parks, thanks to the dousing by several El Niño storms.


With this in mind, Camp-California.com has identified campgrounds that are close to state parks that are popular with wildflower enthusiasts. 


“Many campgrounds now have rental cabins, so you don’t even need an RV or tent to use a campground as a base camp for wildflower tours,” said Debbie Sipe, executive director of the California Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds, which hosts Camp-California.com, the statewide travel planning website. 


Here are several state parks you may want to consider for your spring and early summer wildflower tours, along with recommendations of places to camp:



Calaveras Big Trees State Park, four miles north east of Arnold on Highway 4, is known for its wildflowers in June, especially along the Lava Bluffs Trail. Nearby campgrounds include:




Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park, seven miles south of Crescent City on U.S. Highway 101, has magnificent displays of rhododendrons that can be seen from the highway as well as numerous roadside turnouts in April and May, depending on the warmth of the spring. Nearby campgrounds include:

  • Redwoods RV Resort, Crescent City, features RV and tent sites as well as park model cabin rentals. www.redwoodsrv.com
  • Village Camper Inn, Crescent City, is a big rig friendly park that also has a one bedroom cottage that is available on a weekly or monthly basis. www.villagecamperinn.com


Azalea State Reserve, five miles north of Arcata, preserves outstanding examples of azaleas that generally bloom in April and May.  The reserve has a parking lot and trails.  Nearby campgrounds include:


Widow White Creek RV Park, McKinleyvilleHumboldt Redwoods State Park, 20 miles north of Garberville, provides excellent displays of wildflowers along the Avenue of the Giants. Visitors will find Humboldt Lilies and orchids in late March to April and Dogwood in April into early May, depending on the warmth of the spring. Nearby campgrounds include:


Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park is 50 miles north of Eureka and 25 miles south of Crescent City on Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway off of Highway 101. Careful observers in the park will find beautiful but elusive orchids among the ancient redwood groves as well as more prominent displays of rhododendrons along the parkway in late March through May. Nearby campgrounds include:




Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, east of San Diego via Highways 78 and 79, is a major Southern California destination for spring wildflower displays. Nearby campgrounds include: 


Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, 15 miles west of Lancaster, generally features its greatest blooming period in March and April, depending on rain. Nearby campgrounds include:




Mount Tamalpais State Park, North of San Francisco's Golden Gate, features spectacular and easily accessed wildflowers each spring.  Visitors can get to the park from Highway 101 take Highway 1 to the Stinson Beach exit and follow signs up the mountain. Nearby campgrounds include:


Olompali State Historic Park, three miles north of Novato on U.S. 101, also features spectacular and easily accessed wildflowers each spring.  The park entrance is accessible only to southbound traffic from Highway 101. Nearby campgrounds include:




Pacheco State Park is a good place to visit in April for wildflowers. The park is on Highway 152, located 20 miles east of Gilroy. Nearby campgrounds include:

  • Casa de Fruta Orchard Resort, Hollister, www.casadefruta.com. The campground is in San Benito County. 




For late season wildflowers, Bodie State Historic Park, 13 miles east of Highway 395 on Bodie Road, is blooming when the rest of California is wilting. The park’s 8,500 feet elevation insures that July is colorful. The sagebrush landscape provides unique mixing of plants from both the Great Basin and High Sierra. Nearby campgrounds include:




Andrew Molera State Park, 21 miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, features a variety of springtime flowers. Nearby campgrounds include:


Carmel River State Beach can be reached from Highway 1 in Carmel via Ocean Avenue and Scenic Road.  Wildflowers can be found along the bluff trail. Nearby campgrounds include:


Garrapata State Park, 6.7 miles south of Rio Road in Carmel, features the Soberanes canyon/ridge trail that winds through meadows, a riparian zone, a 

lovely redwood grove and an exposed coastal ridge. On certain sections of this trail visitors may feel that they’re swimming through flowers, which can include Shooting Stars, Johnny Jump Ups, Blue Dicks, Golden Buttercup, Elegant Clarkia, Goldfields, Douglas Iris, Checkerbloom, Star Zygadine, Fushia-flowered Gooseberry, Trillium, Tidy Tips, Footsteps of Spring and a fantastic variety of Bush Lupine.  Visitors can also encounter the more common Monkey Flower, Seaside Painted Cups, Coyote Brush, Lizard Tail Yarrow, Mock Heather and Poppies. Visitors are advised that this is not a particularly easy hike. The first couple of miles are relatively flat and easy but the ridge can only be reached by a 

steep climb. Nearby campgrounds include:


Point Lobos State Park, three miles south of Carmel on Highway 1, features a fairly easy hike with coastal bluff flowers. Nearby campgrounds include: 


Salinas River State Beach, 16 miles north of Monterey and one mile south of Moss Landing, has a nice section of wildflowers along the boardwalk at Molera Road. Nearby campgrounds include: 


Zmudowski State Beach, one mile north of Moss Landing, features wildflowers in late spring, although many of them on non-natives.  Nearby campgrounds include: 




Montaña de Oro State Park, seven miles south of Los Osos on Pecho Valley Road, can feature hills covered with poppies, lupines, sticky monkey flowers, wild radish and mustard. Best time to visit is April and May. Nearby campgrounds include: 

  • Bay Pines Travel Trailer Park, Morro Bay, www.baypinesrv.com 
  • Cypress Morro Bay, Morro Bay.
  • Morro Dunes Travel Trailer Park and Resort Campground, Morro Bay, www.morrodunes.com
  • Rancho Colina, Morro Bay




Henry W. Coe State Park, in the mountains south and east of San Jose, is a wonderful place to see spring wildflowers.  Early in the year visitors may see white milkmaids, blue hounds tongue, or yellow buttercups.  As spring progresses, the flowers become more numerous with goldfields, owls clover, butter and eggs, columbine, delphinium, and may more.  Visitors might even get lucky and see the tiny purple mouse ears.  Short wildflower walks - less than two miles and less than two hours - are given every Sunday at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. from the middle of March through the Memorial Day 

Weekend.  For more information, visit www.coepark.org. Nearby campgrounds include:




McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, 11 miles northeast of Burney on Highway 89, features a variety of wildflowers in the spring. Nearby campgrounds include:




Castle Crags State Park, six miles south of Dunsmuir on I-5, has a variety of wildflowers in the spring. Nearby campgrounds include: 




Woodson Bridge State Recreation Area, six miles east of Corning and I-5 on South Avenue, has a variety of spring wildflowers. Nearby campgrounds include: 


Visit California State Parks on-line at www.parks.ca.gov.  For more information about camping opportunities near state parks, visit www.camp-california.com.