RVwest Insider

Winter rains are expected to bring lots of spring wildflowers

California poppies in field.
California poppies flourish along State Route 46 between Paso Robles and Cambria, California. — Photo courtesy Jeff Crider

PALM SPRINGS, Calif., February 2019 — A handful of yellow wildflowers are already beginning to sprout across the Coachella Valley, and once the weather warms up, the desert will light up with yellow brittlebush and purple verbena.

A handful of California poppies are also starting to sprout in the Sierra foothills and other hillsides across California, which are green with grass thanks to the recent series of winter storms.

“All of these storms we’ve been having lately are setting the stage for a beautiful spring wildflower season in California,” said Debbie Sipe, CEO of Camp-California.com, the travel planning website. But while California’s state parks have some of the best locations for wildflower viewing, the most popular campgrounds tend to book up weeks or months in advance.

With this in mind, Camp-California.com has identified privately owned and operated 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,” Sipe said. Here are several state parks you may want to consider for your spring and early summer wildflower tours, along with recommendations of nearby places to camp:

Calaveras and Tuolumne Counties

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. This park has campsites. Other nearby campgrounds include:

Del Norte County

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. The park has campsites. Other nearby campgrounds include:

  • Redwoods RV Resort in Crescent City, which features RV and tent sites as well as park model cabin rentals. www.redwoodsrv.com
  • Village Camper Inn in Crescent City, which 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

Humboldt County

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:

Humboldt 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. This park has campsites. Other nearby campgrounds include:

Humboldt and Del Norte Counties

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. The park has campsites. Other nearby campgrounds include:

  • Kamp Klamath RV Park and Campground in Klamath, which has RV and tent sites. www.kampklamath.com
  • Sounds of the Sea in Trinidad, which has RV and tent sites as well as park model RV rentals. www.soundsofthesea.us

Imperial, San Diego and Riverside Counties

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

  • Springs at Borrego RV Resort in Borrego Springs, which has RV sites and park model RV rentals. www.springsatborrego.com

Los Angeles County

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

Yellow Arrowleaf balsamroot flowers.
Arrowleaf balsamroot flowers grow wild in the Eastern Sierra in late spring and summer. This view shows arrowleaf balsamroot flowers near the road to South Lake, which is high up in the Sierra west of Bishop. — Photo courtesy Jeff Crider

Marin County

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. This park has cabin rentals. 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:

  • Novato RV Park in Novato, which has RV sites. www.novatorvpark.com
  • San Francisco North / Petaluma KOA in Petaluma, which has RV and tent sites as well as park model RV rentals. www.petalumakoa.com

Merced County

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 in Hollister, which has RV and tent sites as well as motel rooms. www.casadefruta.com. This park is in San Benito County.

Monterey County

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

  • Big Sur Campgrounds and Cabins in Big Sur, which includes RV and tent sites and rental cabins. www.bigsurcamp.com
  • Fernwood Resort, Big Sur. This campground includes RV and tent sites as well as furnished “Adventure Tents.” www.fernwoodbigsur.com
  • Riverside Campground and Cabins in Big Sur: This campground includes RV and tent sites as well as rental accommodations. www.riversidecampground.com

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:

  • Marina Dunes Beach Resort in Marina, which has RV and tent sites. www.marinadunesrv.com
  • Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA in La Selva Beach, which has RV and tent sites as well as cabins, park model RVs and Airstream rentals. www.santacruzkoa.com

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

  • Marina Dunes Beach Resort in Marina, which has RV and tent sites. www.marinadunesrv.com
  • Santa Cruz / Monterey Bay KOA in Watsonville, which has RV and tent sites, cabins, park model RVs and Airstream rentals. www.santacruzkoa.com

San Luis Obispo County

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 typically April and May. Nearby campgrounds include:

  • Morro Dunes Travel Trailer Park and Resort Campground in Morro Bay, which has RV and tent sites. www.morrodunes.com

Santa Clara and Stanislaus Counties

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.net. Nearby campgrounds include:

  • Coyote Valley RV Resort in San Jose, which has RV sites.

Shasta County

McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, 11 miles northeast of Burney on Highway 89, features a variety of wildflowers in the spring. The park has campsites. Other nearby campgrounds include:

Shasta and Siskiyou Counties

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

Tehama County

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

For more information about camping inside California state parks, please visit www.parks.ca.gov and www.ReserveAmerica.com. For more information about camping opportunities near state parks and others of California, please visit www.Camp-California.com

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