Let's face it: 2012 has been a lousy bloom year through most of the California Desert. But if you get out to the Desert Lily Sanctuary in the next week or two, you'll find a little patch of color to match some of the best bloom years ever.
The Sanctuary, also known as the Desert Lily Preserve Natural Area, is about 2,000 acres of prime wildflower turf in the Chuckwalla Valley north of Desert Center, protected by the California Desert Protection Act of 1994 and administered by the BLM. In addition to the Sanctuary's namesake lilies, which were blooming in showy patches throughout the vicinity, you can also see bright purple mats of desert verbena, clumps of ghostly evening primrose, yellow desert dandelion and a number of other species in bloom across the sandy plain.
If you'd like to take a look, you'd better hurry: temperatures are getting higher and the desert is drying out. The Sanctuary's bloom season is usually over by the end of April, and this year it's likely to be sooner than that.
To find the sanctuary, take the Desert Center exit off Interstate 10, then drive about seven miles northeast of town on the Desert Center-Rice Road, a.k.a. State Route 177. Watch for signs and park carefully, then get out and enjoy some of the best the desert has to offer.