In a desert in California, there is a “super bloom” of flowers that have been dormant for 20 years! To the northeast of San Diego lies Anza-Borrego Park, which has been plagued by drought for some time, but is now seeing these flowers which are attracting big crowds. Almost 150,000 people have visited in the last month alone. The police were even brought in to handle the traffic jams! The whole scene has been comically called “Flowergeddon”.
It’s not the only place where these flowers are blooming. Some orange poppies are coming up northeast of Los Angeles in Antelope Valley. But most of this action is being seen in Anza-Borrego State Park, which is 1,000 square miles of mostly desert. These super blooms only happen once per decade, but it’s been happening less because of the lack of rain. But with recent rain in the past year, flowers are being seen in Death Valley as well.
There are different flowers, depending on which are you are in in the park, including blazing stars and desert lilies. Tourists from as far away as Japan have flown to California to see these beautiful wildflowers. Many pictures are being taken, with people posing in different ways with the flowers. The blooms attract sphinx moth caterpillars, which in turn attracts Swainson hawks that are migrating from Argentina.
Rain is not the only cause of these blooms. There have been volunteers and female prisoners helping to remove an invasive plant species called the Sahara Mustard plant, which they believe was brought to the state in the 1920’s. Both humans and rain have come together to make this possible, and although they’ve been removing the invasive plants in 2010, it’s proving to be very stubborn.
The desert does not come without its dangers, so people wanting to visit to see these wildflowers should be very cautious, especially with children. There are also cactuses around that have painful needles that are hard to remove if you get stuck with them. It’s a good idea to wear proper shoes and long sleeved clothing to protect your skin from anything that may get onto it. Careful attention should be paid to the ground, as there might also be deadly snakes.
The town nearby has seen an extraordinary amount of extra business from all the tourists, who not only come from overseas, but from across the country as well. The Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce had visitor log sign ins from Chicago and Canada. Lodging places were filled up in no time as well. It was 92 degrees recently and the desert can get pretty hot, so that’s another thing to consider for visitors.
Officials are urging people to bring a medical kit, plenty of water, food, and be prepared to wait for hours in traffic, especially on the weekends. They are asking people to visit during the week to avoid this particular problem. The Anza-Borrego State Park shouldn’t only be visited during this bloom, as it’s a great camping spot where you can roast marshmallows under the stars and/or race dirt bikes during the day. And also, nearby is the Salton Sea, which is directly on the San Andreas Fault and contains more salt than the Pacific Ocean!