Hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to a small Californian town 85 miles northwest of San Diego to witness a brilliant display of wildflowers blooming across a desert locale. The tiny town of Borrego Springs has become overrun with tourists thanks to the proximity of the Anza-Borrego State Park, which has bloomed with hundreds of plant species across its 640 thousand acres.
Anza-Borrego doesn’t have the only recent or current occurrence of the so-called “super bloom” that occurs periodically in the desert. The right weather conditions occurred last year in Death Valley to cause a similar bloom and currently, the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles has its own boldly colored growth spurt.
But Anza-Borrego does have more species of plants and the different bloom times means the flower show could go on into May. Species include the Dune Evening Primrose, Dune Lilies, Dune Sunflowers, and multicolored types of Lupine. The park became ripe for a super bloom after the area received several inches of winter rain, welcomed after years of drought conditions, and then experienced a two-week warm-up period. Human volunteers and prison workers have also worked to strip the park of an invasive plant species that could have thwarted the super bloom before it could begin.
The super bloom has created an animal surge in the park ecosystem as Spinx moth caterpillars chew on the organic material and migrating hawks swoop down to munch on the caterpillars. The influx of humans has caused its own problems for Borrego Springs, which has a population under 4,000.
Tourists, drawn from all over the world thanks to media coverage and super bloom tracking websites, have created five-hour traffic jams and bought local businesses clean of food. Deputies have started to help out with crowd control and the town has restocked to better prepare for the population growth.
Want to see the super bloom in action? The Anza-Borrego State Park website has visiting tips, a driving route to see the best blooms, and even a wildflower hotline number to call to ensure nature will still be blooming when you arrive.