What to know: 2023 Desert Bloom at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Several areas in bloom, with vibrant Desert Sand Verbena, Desert Primrose, and more. 🌸

SD Anza-Borrego Desert Bloom 2023

The 2023 Desert Bloom is shaping up beautifully at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

‘Tis the season for wildflowers — but no show is quite as spectacular as the one Mother Nature puts on at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in eastern San Diego County this time of year.

Against the rugged, earthy terrain sprout the vibrant flowers of the annual Desert Bloom, which is shaping up as we speak. Let’s see when — and where — the wildflowers grow.

SD Anza-Borrego Desert Bloom 2023

Desert Sand Verbena, it’s your time.

Photo via @markoffbarbara

🗓️ Timing is everything

SDtoday spoke with longtime Borrego Springs resident Betsy Knaak — executive director of the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA) — who said the peak of the Desert Bloom is typically March 15, give or take a week.

However, due to the wild weather and heavy storms this winter, Knaak said the season could extend into early April — but it’s difficult to say with certainty.

She said the desert soil is damp from the storms and, with less sunshine and cooler temps, it hasn’t had much time to dry out. This means the typical deep germination of the flowers is a bit delayed, but it’s already happening in some parts of the desert.

“The minute it warms up, the flowers are really going to want to get going,” said Knaak. “Many species haven’t bloomed yet.”

SD Anza-Borrego Desert Bloom 2023

If we’re lucky, the Desert Bloom typically happens between late February and mid-March at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Photo via @smilinghiker72

📍 Where the wildflowers grow

ABDNHA publishes a fresh wildflower map every Friday during Desert Bloom season. Visitors can also visit the association at 652 Palm Canyon Dr. to pick up a free hard copy.

Knaak says good spots for blooms as of Friday, March 3, include:

  • Coyote Canyon — at the entrance, and ~1 mile in from that point.
  • Henderson Canyon Road — on the eastern end; this is a go-to spot for the desert phenomenon.
  • DiGiorgio Road
  • Borrego Palm Canyon — at the end of a 1.5-mile hike, you can see interesting blooms that botany enthusiasts would appreciate, different from the typical desert flowers.

Meanwhile, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is tracking blooms via this map, which also shows cacti blossoming at Cactus Loop Trail at Tamarisk Grove.

Pro tip: The park runs a free Wildflower Hotline — 1 (760) 767-4684 — featuring recorded info about the Desert Bloom that is updated as needed. The message on Feb. 27 said there will likely be flowers blooming over the next month, and species include Desert Sand Verbena, Desert Lily, and Desert Sunflower.

The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center also offers flower maps and is open daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

SD Anza-Borrego Desert Bloom 2023

Oh, it’s Desert Bloom season alright.

Photo via @txl.lax

SD Anza-Borrego Desert Bloom 2023

The bright colors against the brown terrain are epic.

🌼 What blooms?

Knaak said the “star” of this year’s Desert Bloom seems to be the purple Desert Sand Verbena, but she’s also spotted these species:

In addition to the Desert Bloom, the gardens of the region should not be missed. ABDNHA is hosting its annual Borrego Garden Tour this Saturday, March 11, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., where visitors can explore five private gardens at their own pace. Tickets are available for $30.

Happy exploring. 🥾

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