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Northern California Wildflowers currently

  
 
mreynolds767
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


Any good spots for wildflower blooms in Northern California this week or next week?

Willing to travel (by car from SFO area)

Alternatively ; would this be a good time for Yosemite or Big Sur coastline ?

I was originally hoping I could head to Crater Lake area but looks like the road to Rim Village is closed and will remain so for a bit ; looking for a new plan for just a couple days I have free.



Apr 02, 2024 at 04:56 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


mreynolds767 wrote:
Any good spots for wildflower blooms in Northern California this week or next week?

Willing to travel (by car from SFO area)

Alternatively ; would this be a good time for Yosemite or Big Sur coastline ?

I was originally hoping I could head to Crater Lake area but looks like the road to Rim Village is closed and will remain so for a bit ; looking for a new plan for just a couple days I have free.


I've been away, so I don't have an immediate update on California wildflowers except to say that when I was in the places where you'll find them in Central and SoCal a week or two ago, they were doing quite well already and showing promise for future color. Sorry I can't do more than that. (I'm hopeful that I'll get into the field later this week.)

It is an "interesting" between time in Yosemite. Of course, the high country is still inaccessible by road due to winter closures, though you can get to the valley. The pluses of visiting at this time are fewer people, potential for snow along the valley rim, and even the possibility of snowfall in the valley. It is possible to see some increase in waterfall flow, depending on the weather. (Check the forecast — in the Bay Area right now, believe it or not, local peak snow is in the forecast for a couple of days from now.) Minus factors include: it isn't really what you think of as spring in the Valley quite yet, things can be pretty wet in places, etc.

It would be a great time for the Big Sur coast... but recent storms messed up the roadway and a big section of Highway 1 is closed starting 15 miles south of the Monterey Area near Rocky Point Bridge. On the other hand, going north up the coast from SF may have some potential.

Too bad you only have a couple of days — this is a great time to visit Death Valley.

Edited on Apr 02, 2024 at 10:46 PM · View previous versions



Apr 02, 2024 at 06:45 PM
VelvetVoyage
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


Point Reyes National Seashore or Mount Diablo State Park. Both have some beautiful displays this time of year. Yosemite could be a good option too, but keep in mind that it might still be a bit early for wildflowers there. As for Big Sur, the coastline should be stunning right now with spring in full swing. It really depends on what you're in the mood for - mountains or ocean views!








Apr 02, 2024 at 08:16 PM
mreynolds767
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


Appreciate the current local advice!

I just read the news about the Big Sur road closure which is a bummer so that is off the list. Sounds like many tourists were stranded for quite some time.

Weather looking decent for photography this weekend after snow/rain depending on elevation this week.
A few other places on "my list" also seem like they could be inaccessible currently due to snow so leaning towards checking out Point Reyes coastal area one day and then driving to Yosemite for an overnight there in the limited free time I have. The iconic Tunnel View could be nice with snow in the scene.

I guess the other option is to head further up the coast instead and explore Rt 1 above San Francisco until Fort Bragg or so.
Might be a greater number of opportunities there and less driving







Apr 04, 2024 at 11:56 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


mreynolds767 wrote:
If I went crazy and drove to Death Valley just for late afternoon / sunset and following day sunrise timeframe what spots would you recommend for this time of year? I won't have high clearance 4wd, just a regular rental car.


I would not recommend that, given your limited time. I drive to DEVA from the the SF Bay Area a few times each year and that is a really long drive, especially since you’ll have to go south to Bakersfield to cross Tehachapi Pass, then north (probably via Ridgecrest) and up the Panamint Valley and then across Towne Pass just to get there. It is hard to do that drive in 8 hours one way (unless you _really_ speed and don’t take breaks) and it will likely take longer.

Tioga (in Yosemite), Sonora, and Ebbetts passes are closed and will likely be so for some time to come. The alternative (most likely highway 88, though 50 is possible, too) across the northern Sierra has its attractions, but that is an even longer drive.

Given your limited time, I don’t think I’d try for anything farther away than Yosemite Valley — and that’s roughly four hours each way. There’s a ton of stuff to see and do in and around the Bay Area without so much driving — Point Reyes, various redwood parks, the Pacific shoreline, etc.



Apr 04, 2024 at 12:16 PM
mreynolds767
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


Yeah I determined that was too far for a 2 night/3 day timeframe.

The Carrizo Plain / Temblor Range looks like somewhere I could reach (similar timeframe as to Yosemite) for wildflower blooms; but not sure which roads are fine for 2WD rental car around that area.



Apr 04, 2024 at 01:56 PM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


mreynolds767 wrote:
Yeah I determined that was too far for a 2 night/3 day timeframe.

The Carrizo Plain / Temblor Range looks like somewhere I could reach (similar timeframe as to Yosemite) for wildflower blooms; but not sure which roads are fine for 2WD rental car around that area.


You can drive on pretty much all of the main roads at Carrizo. There is one long-ish gravel section within the monument, but it is usually decently graded and you’ll see passenger cars on it. Do watch out for the occasional pothole or bad spot though.

Yes, the drive is roughly as long (time wise) as the drive to Yosemite Valley., though perhaps _slightly_ longer. There are no services at Carrizo — nearest are close to I5 to the east and way back along 101 to the west. When I go I typically go down 101 and then head east, though I’ve come from the other direction while returning from Death Valley.



Apr 04, 2024 at 03:12 PM
mreynolds767
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


Thank you!

This is the road I was thinking would be good to access

https://carrizo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Geologic-Guide-to-Elkhorn-Road.pdf

Elkhorn Rd. off of 7 mile rd drive to the SE until it connects with Soda Lake Rd. ; follow Soda Lake Rd. to the NW until it reaches back to 7 mile rd. OR I could avoid Soda Lake and just turn around to drive back on Elkhorn Rd. if this is advisable.

You think this route should be OK?



Apr 04, 2024 at 03:34 PM
 


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gdanmitchell
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


mreynolds767 wrote:
Thank you!

This is the road I was thinking would be good to access

https://carrizo.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Geologic-Guide-to-Elkhorn-Road.pdf

Elkhorn Rd. off of 7 mile rd drive to the SE until it connects with Soda Lake Rd. ; follow Soda Lake Rd. to the NW until it reaches back to 7 mile rd. OR I could avoid Soda Lake and just turn around to drive back on Elkhorn Rd. if this is advisable.

You think this route should be OK?


Soda Lake Road is all drivable in a two-wheel drive urban vehicle. The red sections on your map are paved. The black section is gravel, but people drive it in regular cars all the time. Just take it slow and watch for (and steer around) the occasional potholes, bumps, wet spots, and rutted sections. (If it is raining or has just rained, you may not want to drive this section, depending on your level of comfort. If it has rained a LOT, don’t do it.)

Elkhorn runs along the base of the Temblor Range and is a fairly primitive road that eventually turns into the sort of thing you do not want to drive in your rental sedan.



Apr 04, 2024 at 08:02 PM
amv8
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


From the photos I've seen, there are wildflowers in Carrizo right now, but it's not the superbloom mix that we've seen in recent years (at least not yet). Another possibility for you is to visit Pinnacles National Park which is much closer to the Bay Area than Carrizo or Yosemite (although it looks like Yosemite got a nice dump of snow today). Pinnacles has wildflowers intermixed with interesting rock formations, but not the large fields/hills covered with wildflowers that you can encounter in the Carrizo Plains. I've been to the Pinnacles three times in the last month. My focus at the Pinnacles has been photographing the rare California Condors which reside at the park rather than wildflowers however.


Apr 05, 2024 at 12:41 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


amv8 wrote:
From the photos I've seen, there are wildflowers in Carrizo right now, but it's not the superbloom mix that we've seen in recent years (at least not yet). Another possibility for you is to visit Pinnacles National Park which is much closer to the Bay Area than Carrizo or Yosemite (although it looks like Yosemite got a nice dump of snow today). Pinnacles has wildflowers intermixed with interesting rock formations, but not the large fields/hills covered with wildflowers that you can encounter in the Carrizo Plains. I've been to the Pinnacles three times in the last month. My focus at
...Show more

Pinnacles is a great place. I’ve gone since I was a kid. (I still have a hard time remembering that it is no longer “Pinnacles National Monument,” but instead “Pinnacles National Park.”) My family used to go when I was a kid, and during my rock-climbing days my gang climbed there.

It is a fine place for wildflowers, too, especially for folks who want to get out and hike to locate them.

It is a pretty different experience from the Carrizo. At the Carrizo the fields of wildflowers are remarkably extensive, sometimes covering entire ridges and valleys with yellow and blue flowers… and much of the scene is visible (and photographable) from roadways.

Both are excellent prospects, just different from one another.

From the Pinnacles:



















From the Carrizo Plain





















Apr 05, 2024 at 09:56 AM
Older Fossil
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


This past Tuesday (Apr 2) we were out to Shell Creek Road (off Hwy-58) and then drove through the Carrizo Plain from Hwy-58 to Hwy-166. In neither location were the wildflower displays nearly as good as last year, but this year's displays were still nice and the weather was great. But the recent heavy rains had left mud quagmires in several spots along the unpaved section of Soda Lake Road. There were still a few areas with mud and standing water at the surface and lots of deeply rutted sections where people had tried to drive through. In a few spots, folks had created new tracks in the grassy sections next to the road to get around the mud holes. I don't know how yesterday and today's rains have affected that area, but until things dry out and they can regrade those sections I'd only recommend vehicles with high clearance (and even 4WD).

Shell Creek Road






Carrizo Plain






Art



Apr 05, 2024 at 11:49 AM
gdanmitchell
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


^^^
About the muddy roads… That is a seasonal hazard out there and in lots of other more “rustic” parts of rural California. On that road most of this tends to dry out enough fairly quickly, especially if we get a warm spell, but if not it can be a problem.

If concerned, I recommend coming into Carrizo from the west (the Paso Robles side, via 101) rather than from the east. This route has several pluses including lots of other wildflower spots along the way, pavement all the way into the monument (near the visitor center), better conditions on the gravel section near the west end, and typically plenty of flowers in that area.

I usually just navigate by experience, but on a recent visit I noted that my navigation software was suggesting that I drive down I5 and then in from the east. But I’m pretty sure that is more miles, albeit at faster speeds — and I feel pretty strongly that the drive down 101 and then eastward toward the monument has more scenic attractions.

One more thing: For those who can’t or prefer not to go to the Big Name Places like this one, at this time of year you can head out into almost any of the extensive grassland areas of California and find some spectacular wildflowers.



Apr 05, 2024 at 12:59 PM
amv8
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


Older Fossil wrote:
This past Tuesday (Apr 2) we were out to Shell Creek Road (off Hwy-58) and then drove through the Carrizo Plain from Hwy-58 to Hwy-166. In neither location were the wildflower displays nearly as good as last year, but this year's displays were still nice and the weather was great. But the recent heavy rains had left mud quagmires in several spots along the unpaved section of Soda Lake Road. There were still a few areas with mud and standing water at the surface and lots of deeply rutted sections where people had tried to drive through. In a
...Show more

Thanks for the conditions update. I was pondering heading out to Shell Creek (it's only about 40 minutes from me), but I think I'll hold off. We've been getting a lot of heavy showers and hail over the last 24 hours.




Apr 05, 2024 at 01:42 PM
mreynolds767
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Northern California Wildflowers currently


Just wanted to thank everyone for their time and advice

I decided to go to Yosemite instead for the limited free time I had ; snowed here yesterday so was glorious inside the park today , especially early (sunrise)

Clear skies today are melting said snow quickly but hoping will be similarly good conditions here tomorrow as I will be inside the park for another 24 hours

Of course no wildflowers here but I seemed to have mis timed it this year or this year will not be like year so happy with the decision to go to Yosemite and the drive was not bad



Apr 06, 2024 at 04:41 PM







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