Super blooms occur during heavy rainy seasons. The weather encourages an abundance of wildflowers to flourish — these rare events are typically limited to desert environments. While super blooms can happen anywhere across the American Southwest, certain deserts in Southern California are especially known for their vast fields of wildflowers, particularly during super bloom years. Grab your camera and head to the Anza-Borrego Desert, the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, or Joshua Tree National Park to capture astonishing photos. Moreover, look forward to experiencing the once-in-a-lifetime sensation of being completely surrounded by flowers, as far as the eye can see. When photographing wildflowers, be respectful of nature, and stay on marked paths where they exist — or fire up your drone to capture amazing aerial shots. You can find incredible California vacation rentals near these super bloom sites.

1. Death Valley National Park

Don’t let the name of this National Park keep you away from its beauty in the spring, when temperatures are still moderate, and brown-eyed primroses, globemallows, and desert sunflowers spread out before your feet. Look for vacation rentals in Death Valley Junction, Pahrump, or even across the border in Las Vegas to explore this hidden mecca of super blooms. Pack water for your hike, since you may have several miles to walk in to see the flowers. Here in Death Valley, super blooms only occur after a combination of significant winter and spring rains followed by plenty of sun, so call the National Park Service ahead of time for a heads up on whether and where the super blooms are occurring.

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2. Lake Elsinore

Book your vacation rental overlooking Lake Elsinore itself or a little further away in Murietta or Temecula to put yourself in the perfect place to enjoy the spring wildflowers. Head to Walker Canyon, which has convenient parking at the foot of the poppy-covered hillsides. Superblooms occur when a cold, rainy winter locks moisture into the ground, with the rain washing away the protective covering on the dormant wildflower seeds and causing them to sprout. While you’re in Lake Elsinore, enjoy fishing and water sports on the lake itself, and head to the local casinos for some evening fun.

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3. Anza-Borrego Desert

The Anza-Borrego Desert is known for being awash with California poppies when a super bloom strikes, but those aren’t the only wildflowers you’ll see popping up in this patch of desert within easy driving distance of Palm Springs. Check with park rangers to see where the blooms are the most magnificent and pay attention to all the parking and hiking restrictions posted, as driving or even walking over these delicate flowers can destroy them instantly. Look for dune verbenas, desert lilies, desert sunflowers, Indian paintbrushes, and, of course, those brilliant orange poppies. Your vacation rental in Borrego Springs or even in Palm Springs provides you with the perfect jumping-off place for your explorations of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

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4. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve

This protected swath of high desert just north of Los Angeles is one of the best places to see California poppies in full bloom as they take over the hillsides and valleys – and when they really go to town, they’re even visible from outer space. Superblooms on that scale only happen about once a decade, but spring brings out the poppies here every year. When you visit, leave your dogs at home, and don’t step on any of the poppies. Fortunately, the Poppy Reserve has 7 miles of trains to get you deep into the blooming fields, and many of the trails are wheelchair-accessible. Choose a vacation rental in Palmdale or Lancaster to have the easiest access to the flowers.

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5. Joshua Tree National Park

Normally people head to Joshua Tree National Park to see the otherworldly, spiky trees that look like something Dr. Seuss might have drawn, but in the spring, wildflowers provide another reason to visit this corner of the desert. Bring your hiking boots so you can climb the enormous rock piles that dot the park, and get out your camera to take some amazing photos. When you’re Instagramming your wildflower weekend, don’t just take photos of the vast expanses of poppies and other flowers spread out before you, but get up close and personal with the flowers as well. Try some shots with individual flowers in the foreground to take advantage of interesting depth of field perspectives.

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6. Point Mugu State Park

Wildflowers also pop up in the hills over Malibu. Even though you’re not technically in the desert here, the landscape still bursts forth in annual blooms each spring, and you can enjoy them with an ocean view. Head to Point Mugu State Park, at the very tip of the Malibu coastline before it turns north toward Ventura and Santa Barbara, to enjoy lupines and poppies. To enjoy the amazing views, start with a vacation rental in either Oxnard or the wild western reaches of Malibu. Expand your explorations of wildflowers in the Santa Monica Mountains by heading to Wildwood Park outside Thousand Oaks, where you can hike through fields of flowers to Paradise Falls, which is spectacular after the rainy season is over.

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