7 Gorgeous Places to See Wildflowers of Southern California

Updated: July 19, 2020 | Contains affiliate links

Carrizo Plain National Monument is an amazing place for experiencing the wildflowers of Southern California
Southern California is hot in the summer and all the hills and mountains are brown in color. However, from the end of March through the end of May, especially after some good winter rains, Southern California turns green and explodes with wildflowers and color. There are many places to see the wildflowers of Southern California, but a few of them really stand out as being particularly beautiful and very large in size. Let’s explore together some of my favorite places to see the wildflowers of Southern California.

The beautiful wildflowers of Southern California are connected with my favorite California season: spring. This is when I love taking my family for hikes and walks as the area around us turns green and lush. It is during this season that many waterfalls are filled with water from the rains and the trails are surrounded by wildflowers. Put on some hiking boots and come along with me as we explore my favorite places to see the wildflowers of Southern California.

1. Antelope Valley Poppies Reserve

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve - Snow covered mountains seen in the distance with bright orange poppies in the foreground
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve – Snow covered mountains seen in the distance with bright orange poppies in the foreground
See my photos from Antelope Valley Poppies Reserve

Antelope Valley Poppies Reserve is simply unique and amazingly beautiful. As we approach the place on Lancaster Road, we started seeing very large patches of California Poppies covering the hill sides in bright orange color. Then as we turn a few bends in the road, the hillsides explode with the orange color and California poppies cover entire hillsides. Just gorgeous.

Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve - Large hillsides covered with California Poppies during a super bloom
Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve – Large hillsides covered with California Poppies during a super bloom
See my photos from Antelope Valley Poppies Reserve

Instead of taking the 5 freeway back South, you can return using San Francisquito Canyon Rd from Poppies Reserve to Santa Clarita. This is another narrow and twisted mountain road takes us from the amazing Antelope Valley Poppies Reserve through the Lake Hughes and Green Valley communities and dropping us on the other side in the large Santa Clarita area.  Driving through cattle ranching areas and over cliffs and valleys you get an old time feel of California.

2. Carrizo Plain National Monument

Carizzo Plain National Monument - The Soda Lake Overlook provides a great panoramic view of large areas covered by wildflowers
Carrizo Plain National Monument – The Soda Lake Overlook provides a great panoramic view of large areas covered by wildflowers
See my photos from Carrizo Plain

Carrizo Plain National Monument is literally in the middle of nowhere. When we visited, we had no idea that this valley actually existed in California, even though we passed by it many times a few hills over on the Interstate Freeway 5. We came to Carrizo Plain on one of my favorite drives in Southern California. We love picking up the scenic Highway 33 from Ventura to Carrizo Plain.

Highway 33 cuts its way through the mountain ranges of Ojai Valley and Rose Valley all the way to the amazing Carrizo Plain National Monument.  This is a long drive filled with beautiful places to stop and many great hikes you can especially enjoy in the spring when the hills are green and the waterfalls filled with water.

Carizzo Plain National Monument - People walking through the middle of a large patch of yellow wild flowers
Carizzo Plain National Monument – People walking through the middle of a large patch of yellow wild flowers
See my photos from Carrizo Plain

My favorite part of Highway 33 starts in the small village of Casitas Springs, passing through parts of Ojai Valley and cutting North through Rose Valley all the way through to Carrizo Plain.  Depending on how much time you have and what time of the year is, you can adjust your driving so you have time to stop and enjoy the road trip.

Read More: 15 Best Drives in California

3. Highway 58 from Carizzo Plain to McKittrick

Carizzo Plain National Monument - Small house among hills covered in yellow flowers
Carizzo Plain National Monument – Small house among hills covered in yellow flowers
See my photos from Carrizo Plain

If you come in the spring to witness the amazing blooming of the wildflowers at Carizzo Plain National Monument, you can exit this beautiful are to the North and then go East on Highway 58. This road winds its way through the hills filled with blooming wildflowers and California poppies.  It is a stunning road to drive from end of March through the beginning of May.

Highway 58 winds its way through hillsides covered in wildflowers of Southern California
Highway 58 winds its way through hillsides covered in wildflowers of Southern California”
See my photos from Carrizo Plain

4. Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

Wildflowers meadow at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
Wildflowers meadow at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
See my photos from Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

A botanical garden has lots of flowers obviously, but it is rare when you find a large meadow filled with California wildflowers. The Santa Barbara botanical garden has a gorgeous location with a tall mountain peak as background to the wildflowers.

California Poppies surrounded by wildflowers at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
California Poppies surrounded by wildflowers at the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden
See my photos from Santa Barbara Botanical Garden

The wildflower meadow at Santa Barbara botanical garden is maintained to perfection which means that all the flowers are native of the hills and meadows of Southern California.

5. Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park - Wildflowers and green grass during a spring superbloom seen from Mugu Peak
Point Mugu State Park – Wildflowers and green grass during a spring superb loom seen from Mugu Peak
See my photos from Point Mugu State Park

If you time your visit right, then the hills will be bright green and the wildflowers of Southern California will be blooming all over the place. With Boney Mountain in the background, most hikes in this state park will simply be gorgeous. We particularly enjoyed hiking from the Pacific Coast Highway near the impressive Mugu Rock straight up to Mugu Peak. The first part of this hike is strenuous as it goes straight up the narrow canyon, but once you get past the steep initial climb you will be rewarded by beautiful ocean views and large patches of wildflowers of Southern California.

Wildflowers of Southern California at Point Mugu State Park
Wildflowers of Southern California at Point Mugu State Park
See my photos from Point Mugu State Park

Read More: 7 Best Places to See at Point Mugu State Park

6. Circle X Ranch

Circle X Ranch is a beautiful area for seeing wildflowers of Southern California
Circle X Ranch is a beautiful area for seeing wildflowers of Southern California

A former Boys out Campground, Circle X Ranch area is open to everyone for hiking and camping. During the spring, even into into June, wildflowers of Southern California blanket the hills with many colors.

Hiking own the creek, following the signs for the Grotto, gave us surprising Vistas of the tall peaks and canyon. The tall Boney Mountain Peak overshadows this entire area, while the surprising waterfall and Grotto just add a lot of interest to this beautiful area.

7. Matilija Canyon in Ojai

During early May, Matilija Creek displays beautiful wildflowers of California
During early May, Matilija Creek displays beautiful wildflowers of California

Matilija Canyon is a narrow and deep canyon like many other little known valley in Southern California. Located about 10 miles North of the picturesque town of Ojai, Matilija Canyon Trail can take you along the beautifully refreshing Matilija Creek deep into the canyons. During spring, these canyons turn lush green and start blooming with so many wildflowers, especially close to the creek.

Beautiful wildflowers near Matilija Creek during spring
Beautiful wildflowers near Matilija Creek during spring

Plan your Trip to see Wildflowers of Southern California

Wildflowers bloom in more remote areas, so you need to plan accordingly.  Make sure you take plenty of water with you as you will definitely need. Southern California can be hot even in the spring and where wildflowers bloom…well…it’s wild. In addition to plenty of water, bring sunscreen and a hat so you can be prepared for sitting in the sun.

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