One of the reasons that California is called the Golden State is because of it’s state flower the California Poppy. Every spring fields of golden poppies bloom all over the state. Here are the best places where you can see California Poppies. You can’t go wrong visiting the California poppy fields!
Top 8 Places Where You Can See California Poppies
- Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
- Anza-Borrego State Park
- Walker Canyon Near Lake Elsinore
- Carrizo Plain National Monument
- Santa Monica Mountains
- Chino Hills State Park
- Malibu Creek State Park
- North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve
Experiencing the wild poppy blooms in Spring is something that you don’t want to miss. There are some things you need know about visiting the California Poppies.
Also, I have included information on how to find out if the poppies are in bloom before your visit to each location.
California Poppy Fields
Here is everything that you need to know about all the places where you can see California Poppies.
You will also find more information about California poppies, including the specific times that you should plan to see them.
1. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
With over 8 miles of walking trails that bring you through the gently rolling hills of the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, this is one of the most popular of all the California poppy fields in the state.
It is located about 1.5 hours from Los Angeles, California near the city of Lancaster. Depending on the year, and the amount of rainfall, the poppy blooms will be full thick fields, or more sparse.
The poppies are normally in bloom from mid February to May. There is a $10 day-use fee and you will want to get there early because there isn’t much parking and it fills up fast. This area can get windy too so bring a jacket just in case.
For more information about the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve visit the website Or call the Poppy Reserve Wildflower Hotline at (661) 724-1180.
2. Anza-Borrego State Park
Another great place to see beautiful wildflowers and California poppy fields is at the Anza-Borrego State Park. It is located 2 hours from San Diego. There are actually many different varieties of wildflowers that bloom in this area every year.
The best time to view these wildflowers and poppies are in mid march. Crowds can get really busy in years when it is a super bloom. You will want to arrive early. To see the best poppies in this location you will need to come prepared for a bit of hiking.
For more information check out the wildflower page on their park website or call their Wildflower Hotline at 760-767-4684.
3. Walker Canyon Near Lake Elsinore
The fields along the popular Walker Canyon Trail in Lake Elsinore are basically covered in orange poppies for as far as the eye can see. This are hugely popular tourist destination.
Out of all the places where you can see California poppies this area has the most poppies and wildflowers. Of course the amount of poppies depends on the year. Some years there will be super blooms where the entire hillside is covered in golden poppies.
This is a great place to visit even in years when it’s not a superbloom. It’s about 1.5 hours from Los Angeles. You can check the City of Lake Elsinore website for information to see when the poppies are in bloom.
They will normally bloom within a 4 week time frame during spring, so you just have to check to see when they are in bloom before you visit. You will want to go early as it can get really busy.
During the last super bloom some people had to wait in traffic for 2 hours just to get to the fields. I would suggest visiting really early about 7-730 on a weekday to be first in line and beat the crowds.
The trail is about 3.5 miles round trip and most people only go up about half a mile. If you go up farther you can still see the poppies, and it won’t be so crowded.
For more information and poppy blooming updates visit the City of Lake Elsinore website.
4. Carrizo Plain National Monument
Also located a few hours from Los Angeles, the Carrizo Plain National Monument is another great spot to see some california poppies.
This area isn’t covered in poppies, but you will find wild poppies mixed in with the rest of the beautiful wildflowers.
When conditions are perfect a mix of color and types of wildflowers almost carpet the valley. While the wildflowers don’t last long, it is amazing to experience. It almost looks like a sea of flowers.
To learn more about the Carrizo wildflowers visit their website.
5. Santa Monica Mountains
Another place where you can see California Poppies is in the western end of the Santa Monica mountains. To get the best views of the poppies it is recommended to hike the Ray Miller Trail in the Point Mugu State Park.
This area is about an hour drive from Santa Monica. The entire trail is about a 5 mile hike. During certain times in the spring you will get to see beautiful wildflowers covering the mountains. You will also find certain spots that have wild California Poppies.
It is $8 for parking. It does get windy so make sure you dress warm. Also you will get to see some amazing views of the ocean right from the trail.
6. Chino Hills State Park
You can also see some breathtaking wildflowers and poppies from the Bane Ridge Trail in the Chino Hills State Park. This state park is located only about 15 minutes from Chino CA.
The cost to park is only $5. Once you reach the top of the hill you will begin to see flowers lining the sides of the trail and down into the canyon. There are quite a bit of poppies up near the top of the hill making this a great location to check out if you want to see poppies.
Since wildflowers and poppies will only be in bloom during certain weeks in the spring, you should make sure the flowers are in bloom before visiting.
For more information you can visit the Chino Hills State Park website.
7. Malibu Creek State Park
The Point Dume Nature Preserve has a hike within Malibu Creek State Park that offers some spectacular views of the ocean. If you are lucky to be there at the right time you will also get to see some beautiful wildflowers in bloom along trails.
It is located in the Santa Monica Mountains about a 45 minute drive from Los Angeles. The cost for parking is $12. Because of the amazing ocean views the trail can get crowded on the weekends, so you might want to visit on a weekday.
For more information visit the Point Dume Nature Preserve website.
8. North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve
One of the few spots to see wildflowers in Northern California, the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve is the home to Phantom Falls and Ravine Falls. In the spring time the top of this mountain is covered in wildflowers.
Table top Mountain is located right outside Oroville, CA and is about a 1.5 hour drive drive from Sacramento. The wildflower season attracts many visitors each year. You do have to purchase a land pass online to access the area.
There are no specific trails, you will be able to see the meadows of wildflowers right from the parking area. If you do decide to visit you should use your gps and hike to the two falls found in the area.
To hike round trip to the falls it is 5.5 miles, but you will enjoy wildflowers and some poppies both ways.
For more information visit the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve website.
When do poppies bloom in California?
California poppies are normally at their peak bloom in Spring. They can start blooming as early as mid-February until mid-May. The specific times that poppies bloom can change each year depending on the rain and temperatures.
Depending on the weather some years will cause the poppies to bloom earlier or later than normal. Once they bloom, the flowers only last for about 4 weeks.
The peak bloom time is within this window where you can see the best blooms. Normally once the weather starts getting warmer the poppy blooms will die off in late spring and early summer.
How can I find out when the Poppies are in bloom?
The best way to know if the California poppies are in bloom is to check each location’s website, they will usually post when poppies are in bloom.
Another great idea is to search instagram for recent photos of the location that you are wondering about. Once wildflowers start blooming people will start posting photos on Instagram for each location.
The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve and Anza-Borrego State Park have their own poppy hotlines.
- Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve Hotline (661) 724-1180
- Anza-Borrego State Park Wildflower Hotline at 760-767-4684
You can also call the Theodore Payne Wild Flower Hotline at 818 768-1802 ext 7 for weekly updates on the best locations to see wildflower blooms in Southern and Central California. They also post these weekly updates as PDFs on their website.
Best time of day to visit?
The best time of day to see poppies is midmorning between 9am and 10am because it has warmed up just enough for the poppies to open up and the winds are still calm.
If you are going to a poppie viewing spot that gets busy, I would recommend getting there early in the morning. Then you don’t have to fight traffic and it will be easier to find a parking spot.
Many of the places in California where you view the poppies have small hikes or walks, so by the time you get to the poppies it should be just starting to warm up and they will start opening.
Arrive early around 8am and then plan on staying for a few hours so you can see the poppies fully open by the time you leave.
What is a California poppies super bloom?
Super blooms are a season when an usually high number of poppies bloom at the same time. This happens after having higher than normal rainfall that is followed by cold temperatures. This traps moisture in the ground, causing most of the poppy seeds to germinate and blossom all at once.
The conditions have to be just right to cause a poppy super bloom. It is a fairly rare event that only happens about every 10 years.
When it does happen it creates stunning thick blooms of poppies and wildflowers that are so thick they completely cover the ground.
A California poppy super bloom is a truly amazing site. If you get the chance to visit these California poppy fields during one of these events, make sure you go!
Just know that if you do visit these locations on the year of a super bloom event, it will be very crowded and hard to find parking. Just remember to arrive early and be patient.
Also, during the last California Superbloom in 2019 many people damaged the poppy fields by walking through them to take photos. Just make sure that you stay on the trails and don’t walk into the fields.
California Poppies Facts
- It has been the official state flower of California since March 2, 1903.
- California poppies are celebrated each year on April 6th (poppy day) and May 13-18 (poppy week).
- Poppies can be found growing wild as far north as southern Washington, as far east as Texas, and as far south as Baja Mexico.
- The California poppy is native to both Oregon, and California.
- Since they are drought resistant they grow very well in California.
- They tend to be found in grassy or sandy slopes, and wide open areas.
- The poppies close their petals at night or when it is cold and open back up when it gets warm.
- According to CA state law if you pick or damage a poppy on land that you do not own or you don’t have permission from the land owner you could be fined and even face jail time.
Seeing golden covered hills of California poppies is an experience that you don’t want to miss out on. You will want to start planning your visit early by checking the websites starting mid-February.
Once they start blooming you can call to find out when the peak bloom time will be expected. When you visit, arrive early around 8am for the best parking and plan on staying until after about 10a after the poppies have fully opened.
Many of these areas are very windy and can be cold in the early morning so bring a jacket. Stay on the trails and remember not to walk on the poppy fields.
If you want to see even more wild poppies and wildflowers, visit the year of a super bloom.
I hope that this list of the best locations where you can see California poppies helps you to plan your visit to see the fields of colorful wildflowers and golden poppies.