Local Blooms Can Be Found If You Know Where To Look

Spring showers bring May flowers, or so the saying goes. The heavy rains that dropped on San Luis Obispo County in March and April have certainly brought out the wildflowers, which dotted the landscape around the county already.

Photo by Nic Mattson

However, Carrizo Plain National Monument Manager Johna Hurl is not optimistic about it being a great wildflower year on the Carrizo Plain. Typically, wildflower season is from mid-March to the first week of May, but that is with the area getting significant rainfall by mid-February. The majority of rain came in mid-March this year, so that could result in a late wildflower season.

Before planning a trip to Carrizo Plain National Monument, the Bureau of Land Management encourages visitors to call the automated hotline at 805-475-2035 to check conditions.

Chasing the wildflowers for fantastic photos once-yearly — if that — for colorful groundcover is something that many people set out to do. While the photos are beautiful, tromping on the annual flowers can dampen the excitement for many, including the landowners. Before setting out to take your own photos, read the list of etiquette suggestions.

  • Respect other’s property. Don’t cross fence lines without the owner’s permission.
  • Respect the wildflowers and don’t trample on them. While the idea of running through the open field of wildflowers is enticing it kills them and leaves fewer for others to enjoy as trampled wildflowers will not reseed for future appearances. So stay on dedicated paths. There are ways to stage photos to make it look like the subject is surrounded by wildflowers without actually stepping on any.
  • Leave no trace. Meaning, don’t leave trash or food behind — pack it in, pack it out. It’s fun to enjoy a picnic surrounded by the beautiful nature, but it’s not fun to be surrounded by trash.
  • Don’t take nature with you when you leave, including wildflowers. The more that is taken away, the less there is for others to enjoy.

Where to Find Wildflowers

While there are places that usually have large amounts of wildflowers year after year, those same areas sometimes have fewer flowers some years. A lot of that has to do with the rainfall that year. During heavy drought years, there were fewer abundant fields of wildflowers.

Heading to more rural areas, such as the Carrizo Plain or somewhere between there and the 101, you’ll see more. That has a lot to do with the number of people who wander among the flowers.

Popular places to see wildflowers include:

  • Shell Creek off Highway east of Santa Margarita
  • Whale Rock Reservoir
  • See Canyon Road
  • Montaña de Oro