More Superbloom

March 29, 2019 at 6:41 am (California, California Central Coast, Nature, Nature photography, Photography, Wildflowers) (, )

Cottonwood Canyon Road off Hwy 166, New Cuyama

I discovered a very pretty hillside two weeks ago when I exited the southern end of Soda Lake Road in Carrizo Plain National Monument, and took a short drive to explore.

I love the soft curves of the grassy hills in Central Coast California, and am still wowed by the brilliant greens which we hardly saw last year. But add in the vivid yellow hillside daisies, and the goldfields belly flowers, and I’m in loooooovvvveeee with the landscape.

I’m hearing of other lovely wildflower spots that haven’t been as highly advertised, but may be more locally known. I suspect there are many hidden gems this year, each with a different sort of palette.

Hwy 166 New Cuyama

I am also enamored with the drama of rock formations, and when they are decorated with rare color, it’s an opportunity I can’t pass by.

Carrizo Plain

The Temblor Range bordering the Carrizo Plain is quite distinctive and has some of my favorite rock formations.

From Soda Lake Road

The power lines in the above image mark this as the northern end of Soda Lake Road, looking east.

The erosion patterns are mesmerizing. I am fortunate to have discovered the Nikon 200-500mm lens as it is THE sharpest lens I’ve ever owned. It’s brutally heavy, though, but the detail in these landscapes or bird photographs, even when heat waves cause distortion, is worth the pain.

While a nearly fluorescent yellow is the dominant color (and my favorite), the goldenrod tones of the fiddleneck are nearly as plentiful, albeit not as stunning. However, when paired with other paints in the palette, they add a lovely variety.

Mustard, phacelia, fiddlenecks

The greenish-yellow mustard is an exotic, but even though it paints many Central Coast landscapes, it is uncommon in the Carrizo Plain. This patch is backdropped by purple phacelia and goldenrod tinted fiddleneck.

March 24

Some patches of phacelia have spread on the hillsides, adding a sense of unreality to an already unreal landscape.

Sprague Hill Road

There are some nice patches of phacelia along the Sprague Hill Road just inside the north entrance. The good thing is they are behind fences, since the property belongs to Carrizo Ranch, and they won’t be swarming with people smushing them.

Sprague Hill Road winds through a little “pass” filled with hillside daisies and silverbush lupines, and looks down on the valley floor toward the Temblor Range.

Silverbush lupine, fiddleheads, hillside daisies

The entire length of Soda Lake Road is decorated with goldfields, fiddlenecks, and patches of phacelia. At the southern end is a view of a huge patch of phacelia. However, be careful when traveling any of the dirt roads as they can remain soft for awhile after a rain (which we have gotten nearly every week this year) and many people get stuck.

The area is considered remote. Gas stations and tow companies are about an hour away, and there are only a few restrooms along Soda Lake Road. Bring a lunch. And please don’t lay down in the flowers for a selfie, or trample them. There are a couple of spots where the daisy-covered hills are very accessible, so please walk lightly among them.

Owls Clover

Park rangers have set up info booths in popular areas along Soda Lake Road. I asked one of them how this year compared to the 2017 Superbloom there. She said 2017 was much more dramatic. I don’t see how! I can’t imagine it being any better than it is right now.

The plain is bordered by two mountain ranges, making it a unique and lovely spot, even when the hills and fields are brown and dry.

Hill of fiddlenecks

A few times I’ve driven from Paso Robles to Hwy 58 via Shell Creek Road, which is a known wildflower spot. While it doesn’t have the drama of Carrizo, it is still lovely.

Silverbush lupine

Silverbush lupine is beginning to bloom in various places on the Central Coast. I’ve seen all sorts of lupine – in the subalpine meadows of Mt. Rainier, the tall pink and purple blooms in Maine, the bluebonnets of Texas, but I’ve never seen lupine actually growing on a bush.

Tidy tips is a lovely flower along Shell Creek Road, and the baby blue eyes are prominent as well.

Enjoy your visit to California’s amazing flower fields. They are a rare sight, especially after years of drought, but be respectful of the bounty.

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share


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