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for the glowing review! "Go ask Alice ... where all the best vineyard gardens are. She's an erudite charmer; you'll have fun!"

Desert Travel

The Desert in Bloom

Fouqueria splendens Anza Borrego Photo © Alice Joyce


Wildflower Guides .. Amazon

Beavertail Cactus – Opuntia Basilaris Photo © Alice Joyce

Known as one of the top U.S. sites for spring wildflower displays, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park did not disappoint. I’d hoped to visit since moving to California, and finally found time for a mid-March getaway.

Anza Borrego Hawk Canyon Photo © Alice Joyce

Myriad conditions must be in harmony for wildflowers to appear in this magnificent setting: A matter of rain, sun, wind, and temperature: all in harmony during the prior year and the season leading up to Spring. 2011 is proving to be noteworthy, with vast swathes of lupine, dune evening primrose, brittlebush, and ocotillo (Fouqueria splendens), to name but a few.

Borrego Valley Inn Photo © Alice Joyce

Set in the midst of Anza-Borrego State Park is Borrego Springs .. a town that comes to life most vividly during the wildflower season. A small, friendly oasis, Borrego Springs offers a limited number of rooms available in a comfy resorts, motels and no-nonsense hotels, campgrounds, and the lovely Borrego Valley Inn.

Anza Borrego Hawk Canyon and Lupines Photo © Alice Joyce

My trip began in Palm Springs, where I hiked in Andreas Canyon; one of a group of the Indian Canyons.

Andreas Canyon Photo © Alice Joyce

There are easy hikes of great beauty in each of the canyons, along with more rugged treks: I recommend the foot trail along Andreas Creek, culminating in a lush grove of native fan palms. A peaceful setting of breathtaking beauty that I had hoped to find on this sojourn.

Palm Springs Sunset Photo © Alice Joyce

Seated on my hotel balcony in Palm Springs, I waited for T. to arrive after the drive down from Northern California. I took a flight directly to Palm Springs, where I watched the sun set just as he was pulling into the hotel’s parking lot.

XIV Michael Mina Restaurant L.A. (Photo: Alice Joyce)

A cool topiary outside Michael Mina’s XIV Restaurant in Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard.

You’ll notice, I’ve been hopping between cities and towns in Southern California. But I invite you to stay tuned for upcoming features, where I’ll shed light on destinations from Palm Springs to California’s Central Coast. Stunning natural settings to trendy eateries: When my travels include vigorous workouts in rugged terrain, I look forward to indulging my foodie cravings, accompanied by a glass of excellent wine.

Read more .. All the desert sojourn features

12 comments to The Desert in Bloom: Spring in Southern California

  • Stunning photographs! It looks very interesting and beautiful.

  • I love seeing the desert in bloom. Hope I can get down there yet this year to see it. Nice post & pics.

  • Tryin to get my head round the idea of ‘vigorous workouts in rugged terrain’!!
    You mean you stop your hike for a heavy gymnstics session?
    I think i’d just settle for the food and the wine, me!
    Great post – look forward to more.

  • When I lived in San Diego, I went to Borrego while others hit the beach…often 1X a month. I even stayed at the inn you noted, except it was Casa de Zorro then, with lawn and oleanders…but at least some shade trees. A magical area inland San Diego is, mtns to desert!

  • David,
    In my dreams, I’m a landscape architect. Thanks for introducing me to the ‘DesertEdge’…

  • Haha! Hiking was an amazing workout, as path/lack of path covered in rocks and boulders. Had to look down at all times, when I wanted to gaze upon the amazing landscape.

  • I enjoyed this post Alice! Thanks for showing this, and fantastic photos too! :)

  • Bom

    What a wonderful looking trip. So unusual — this is coming from someone who has never been to a desert. What was the temp when you were hiking, may I ask?

  • Mark and Gaz
    I’m enjoying the synergy between your ‘alternative eden’ and my forays. Cheers

  • Bom
    Temps are generally ‘warm’ in spring, before the desert really heats up. Then a cold front came in while visiting Joshua Tree, unseasonably cold, and nearly blew me off the edge of an amazing overlook precipice. Had to return home as rain/cold weather continued non-stop for a week.

  • Very nice. Having worked in the High Desert areas of Northern Nevada, I can verify that the Springtime wildflower glories of our deserts are an absolutely under rated feast. What’s even more amazing is what happens after a rare rainfall. It’s almost impossible tpo imagine a larger transformation. Great post, Alice.

  • I haven’t had the opportunity to spend time in Anza-Borrego, but it’s been on my list. Hiking and photographing the wildflowers would make a great active boomer adventure.