San Bernardino Tourism Blog
Top Places in Southern California to See Wildflowers in 2018
April 05, 2018
Monique Carter

From the deserts to the mountains, San Bernardino County has an abundance of blooms


To see some of the best wildflowers in Southern California, head to San Bernardino County where the deserts and mountains are blooming with wildflowers.


Last year’s historic seasonal rainfall brought California a “superbloom” in the spring, an unprecedented overabundance of blooming wildflowers and while this year won’t be a superbloom, the wildflowers are still a spectacular sight to see.


PC: Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management


Flora explorers can find hundreds of species of native wildflowers but the state flower is the real shining star of the wildflower world. The California Poppy is abundant across meadows and hillsides all over the state and comes in a variety of shades ranging from red, gold, pink, white and orange.


The peak desert wildflower bloom starts in March and lasts through April, depending on altitude. Before you head out, we recommend you call the acclaimed Theodore Payne Wildflower Hotline (yes, there’s really a wildflower hotline) for weekly updates. Updated reports are posted each Friday through May and can be reached by calling 818-768-1802, ext. 7. Now is the time to head out and here are the top five places to scope out wildflowers in the deserts San Bernardino County and some of the types of flowers you’ll see there.

PC: Kyle Sullivan, Bureau of Land Management


Mojave Desert National Preserve

The Mojave Desert spans a good chunk of San Bernardino County in Southern California and carpets of wildflowers can be found proliferating in this 1.6 million acre national preserve in the spring. The expansive park boasts miles of stunning natural landscape including singing sand dunes, mountains, mesas, and Mojave yucca. The apricot-orange desert globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) is one of the most stunning flowers in the Mojave Desert and is a favorite snack of bighorn sheep, though be cautious, it can be irritating to humans.


PC: Alison Taggart-Barone, National Park Service


While visiting the Mojave Desert, check out the camping options within the park. Hotel options are also plentiful throughout the desert communities of San Bernardino County. Barstow is the closest large town near the Mojave National Preserve with some solid hotel options like the Hampton Inn & Suites Barstow and the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.


Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is known for its ubiquitous, oddly shaped Joshua Tree plants and expansive desert beauty. The park is created by the confluence of two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado, making the natural flora in the area totally unique to the American Southwest.


Joshua Tree National Park has had large wildflower blooms in the past two years and with higher elevations, the blooms last through until May. Prime wildflower locations include the Black Rock Canyon area and the Wonderland of Rocks. Look for beavertail cacti with vibrant magenta pink blossoms. Poppies and blue chia flowers bloom in brilliance along the trail to Mastodon Peak. A popular and easy hike to view a large variety of wildflowers is Cholla Cactus Garden where desert lavender, brittlebush, and white ratany can be spotted.



There are many accommodation options in and around Joshua Tree ranging from basic to luxurious. Choose one of the lodging options at the beautifully designed Rimrock Ranch or choose from one of the incredible vacation rentals in Joshua Tree like the gorgeous Shelter property or this rustic hacienda.


Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is known as the hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the national park system. The vast park stretches from eastern California to Nevada, its southern regions extends into San Bernardino County.  Winter rainfall can bring vast fields of wildflowers. In the spring, this iconic desert environment is spotted with globemallow, desert sunflower, desert sand-verbena, and brown-eyed primrose. One of the most brilliant flowers that can be found in Death Valley is the violet notch-leaf phacelia, though avoid touching it as it can produce a skin rash. The beautiful desert five-spot is a vibrant flower with each of its five pink petals sporting a dark red spot.


PC: Robb Hannawacker


Stay in eco-friendly style in one of these unique and secluded desert eco-pods only six miles from the city of Ridgecrest, a Gateway to Death Valley, they’re truly a one-of-a-kind experience.


San Bernardino National Forest

A departure from desert wildflowers, vibrant springtime flowers can be found in the mountains of San Bernardino National Forest. The flowers will bloom later as the snow and cold dissipate welcoming in warmer breezes. The San Bernardino National Forest spans 679,380 acres and includes the San Jacinto Mountain Ranges where outdoor adventurers can enjoy extensive hiking, biking, horseback riding, and nature viewing. Within the vast forests visitors will find Prickly Poppy, Morning Glory, Vibrant Indian Paintbrush Blooms, and Blue Bottle flowers in the spring. Head to the Heaps Peak Arboretum Gardens to learn about different types of indigenous area plants. The arboretum is open daily, 365 days a year.


PC: Laura Kobelt, Bureau of Land Management


The mountains of San Bernardino County hosts many lodging options including camping and vacation rentals. The Sky Forest Inn is located near Heaps Peak Arboretum Gardens. The beautiful and historic Saddleback Inn is located near Lake Arrowhead.


Big Bear Lake

Nestled in the heart of the San Bernardino Mountains at 7,000 feet, Big Bear Lake is the ideal location for outdoor spring adventure. Big Bear is also home to more than 20 endemic wildflowers not seen anywhere else in the world. Head to the 156-acre Baldwin Lake Ecological Reserve to see rare flowers up close and take a guided wildflower hike led by a botanist and volunteers of the Southern California Mountains Foundation. The best time to view wildflowers is during April and early May while temperatures are still cool. Visitors will see Big Bear Valley Phlox, Ash Grey Paintbrush, Bear Valley Sandwort and Douglas’ Violets among many other varieties.


While in Big Bear stay at one of the many cozy and relaxing vacation rentals like Lakeview Lodge or enjoy the mountain view from Heaven’s View. If you’re exploring the area with a large group this incredible cabin would be just the ticket.


PC: izacklys


Ready to check out the wildflowers for yourself? Our advice is not to wait as the season comes and goes quite quickly each year. Whether you chose a wildflower expedition in the desert or high in the mountains, the blooms of San Bernardino County will not disappoint. Start your Southern California wildflower adventure by planning out your perfect blooming getaway at

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