Wildflowers in the Desert: Borrego Springs, California – March 8, 2019

We have posted about the wildflowers in the desert before, but since this is possibly our last trip to see them for a while, we wanted to write about them again. It’s interesting to see the differences from year to year.

You can read about our previous trips in Borrego Springs, California: Wildflowers 2017 and Borrego Springs, California – Wildflowers.

Most of our trips to the desert include side trips. This year’s side trips were to Packard’s Coffee Shop in Ramona, CA, Dudley’s Famous Bakery in Santa Ysabel, CA, and Culp Valley Cultural Preserve right outside Borrego Springs.

We love Packard’s but we live so far away that we only make it there about once a year. The big blue box in the front is the reason we first visited because Josh and I are Doctor Who fans. We have never tried their crepes or baked goods, but we always buy some of their coffee. They are really great about updating their Facebook page with the baked goods they are offering for the day or week.

Packard’s TARDIS is a Little Free Library. I think this is such a great idea!
The front porch at Packard’s.


Dudley’s Famous Bakery was our next stop where we picked up five loaves of bread. With the size of our family though, five loaves of bread doesn’t last very long!


That is a LOT of bread. We bought four loaves and got one free. We were hoping the strudels were included in that but sadly, they were not. I had to tell my oldest son to go put the raspberry strudel back. I regretted that later, because I don’t think strudel is something I will ever attempt to make.

Our next stop was Culp Valley Cultural Preserve. We didn’t actually hike anywhere here but it was an interesting place to stop. It was neat to watch the shadows of the clouds move across the landscape. It was very windy here!


We like to stop at the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association Desert Nature Center near Christmas Circle to pick up a wildflower map before we head out to the fields.  The staff there are very knowledgeable and very helpful. They also have a nice gift shop. My rock hound son has picked up a few books about rocks, gems, and minerals there. For this trip, we purchased a wildflower guide and a guide to the sky art metal sculptures around town. The wildflower maps are always free and are invaluable to figuring out where is best to go.


Usually, we head out to Henderson Canyon Road to find wildflowers but this year our main stop was Coyote Canyon. I think we were early enough in the day that it wasn’t too difficult to park close to the dirt road that would take us to the fields. For this trip, we walked east from Di Giorgio Road. The most prevalent wildflowers were desert sunflowers, sand verbena, and dune evening primrose. The colors were amazing.

We also stopped at a few fields east of Borrego Springs. Josh took pictures out there since I stayed in the van with our baby. I also was a bit of a wimp and didn’t feel like dealing with the wind.



I think this might be my favorite picture that I took of the wildflowers.
Desert Lilies
Desert Chicory over Popcorn flowers
Popcorn flowers have fuzzy stems. We saw a few of these plants here and there that had not bloomed yet.
Chuparosa. This was taken by Josh with his iPhone. 
Brown-eyed evening Primrose
dune evening primrose
Dune Evening Primrose
dune evening primrose2
I think this is probably Dune evening primrose also. It’s just light pink instead of white.
Sand verbena. There is so much of this blooming that you can see them from very far away.
I think this is another brown-eyed evening primrose.


Another type of blue heliotrope or phacelia. I love blue and purple flowers!
A type of blue heliotrope or phacelia. I thought it might be canterbury bells at first but the way the flowers are clustered doesn’t look right.

While walking around by Coyote Canyon, we found a dry wash. Three of my boys were fascinated by the way the mud had dried in layers and broken with some of the edges curling up.  One of them even told me, “Mommy, this is much more fun that the flowers!” Doesn’t that just sound like a boy? I’m glad that they found something out on our walk that was interesting to them. They even wanted to take some of the layers home with us. Sorry, boys, you can’t bring any dirt home with you.



We hiked out to this weather station and then headed back to the van. There were also some cryptic signs in this area with the words “Viking Block” and then a number. Josh looked them up and found out that they were in relation to a program for environmental protection.


Of course, we had to visit our old friends, the scorpion and the grasshopper. We also drove by the serpent. The kids love seeing the metal sculptures. Hopefully, it will not be the last time we get to visit Borrego Springs.


Borrego Springs, California – Wildflowers

The second week of March is supposed to be the best weekend to go to the desert and look at the wildflowers. We hadn’t been to the desert during the spring wildflowers for almost seven years!

Borrego Springs wildflowers – March 2009

With this year being an El Nino year, we were hoping that the wildflowers would be blooming like crazy. We still found a lot of wildflowers but they weren’t as obvious as the last time we were there. We had to look for them this time! When we stopped by the visitor center to pick up a map of the area, the ladies there told us that in spite of El Nino they had only gotten 3 inches of rain this year. The average rainfall by this time is 7 inches.

Borrego Springs – March 2016 – My boys loved the way the hills looked. They said it looked like a painting.

We decided to check out a few of the trails in the area. Because of the high winds though, we were only able to hike one small trail called Little Surprise Canyon. There will be a lot of pictures from now on in this post.

Heading out on the trail. Gwen, the youngest, is riding in the hiking backpack Josh is wearing. Ian, Rhys, and now Gwen have ridden in that backpack.

This was a good trail for kids. It wasn’t too long. The trail “next door” to this one is called Hellhole Canyon and that would have been a 6 mile hike. If the wind hadn’t been so bad, we probably would have hiked at least part of it.

All of our kids are rock hounds so they were also picking up rocks to take home.

The wildflowers were so tiny that it was very easy to miss them. I kind of liked them this way though. The purple flower is purple sage, and the tiny yellow flowers beside it are a kind of poppy.
This is ocotillo. They are everywhere here! And grow very tall.
Desert lavender – my focus was a little off on these. I’m still figuring out how to use my camera.


Yellow poppies. These were so nice to see everywhere. The yellow is cheerful.
Matthias and I found this flower. It was the only one of its kind we saw during our hike. It’s called a ghost flower because of the yellowish-white almost translucent petals. It was so small that we could have easily stepped on it!
Rock daisy – I didn’t see too many of these either
I always love to see cactus flowering. This is a barrel cactus.
Probably my favorite flower I saw during our hike. Beavertail cactus. The hot pink flowers are easy to see from very far away!
It was so fun to go out on a hike with my family. I think it has been a while! Our last hike together was probably in the Petrified Forest in Arizona. The boys had a great time exploring rocks, dirt, and the little canyons here and there.
We probably went through every color of the rainbow during our hike. This is indigo bush.
Josh said this might be a packrat nest. I’m glad we didn’t see any rats!
Desert chicory – this one caught my eye because it was all by itself by a rock.
This yellow wave of flowers is called brittle bush I think. It is a type of sunflower.
At first I thought these were ocotillo flowers, but then I realized that they weren’t the right shape. These are chuparosa.
I love blue flowers. These are wild heliotrope. Very small flowers. I’m glad I was able to get a picture of them.
This is teddy bear cholla cactus. It looks cute but you don’t want to hug it!
We drove through the mountains to get to the desert. There was an overlook of Borrego Springs you could stop at. It was interesting to be able to look down on the town like this.
In the far distance in this picture, you can see a thin line of water that is the Salton Sea. It is about 30 miles away from Borrego Springs. On a whim, we decided to drive there after we were finished with our adventure in Borrego Springs. I’ll write about the Salton Sea in another post. Now that was an adventure!

Josh took some pictures too. So I’m going to talk about a few of those.

You can see in this picture where water obviously runs down the mountain during a rainstorm. I was hoping it might rain while we were in Borrego Springs, but it ended up raining later, while we were driving home!
A panoramic photo Josh took of our hike at Little Surprise Canyon.

Thanks for coming along with us on our hike in the desert! My next post about Borrego Springs will be on some metal sculptures we stumbled across in town. We were going to look for more wildflowers but ended up spending the rest of our time at the sculptures