Road Trip: 'Half-Hour's Worth' of Blooming California Poppies Near Yosemite

California poppies | Photo: Courtesy Bethany Gediman

Looking for a California poppy in bloom? It's been a dull year for the official state flower in the park dedicated to them; the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve has not had much to report all spring. But that doesn't mean seeing the spectacular carpet of orange that draws crowds cannot be found anywhere in the state; ones just needs to look elsewhere.

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Wildflowers are also blooming in Los Padres National Forest. Read about it here.

Perhaps the most intense display in full bloom right now is just outside Yosemite National Park in the Merced River Canyon. "It's a half-hour's worth of poppies," explains the park's Kari Cobb about Highway 140 between Yosemite Valley and Mariposa. Bob Ferguson of Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions, a rafting company that takes people down the Merced River, agrees: "They're just shouting out."

California poppies along Highway 140 | Photo: Courtesy Bethany Gediman

California poppies along Highway 140 | Photo: Courtesy Bethany Gediman

Cobb says Hite's Cove off 140 proves to be an easy, popular trail for checking out the poppies where a quarter-mile walk yields a majestic display.

Via Sandy Steinman at Natural History Wanderings, photographer Michael Frye on his blog says there's also "a brilliant display on the north side of the canyon about three miles east of Briceburg, with poppies reaching from the river to the ridge tops. A mile or two further east, around Grandy's Hill, you can find some great patches of flowers above the road on the south side of the canyon."

And with all this orange comes purple -- from redbuds -- which can be also seen along 140. Raul Diaz took some photos:

As for wildflowers blooming within Yosemite National Park, Cobb says there's nothing yet. Wildflowers, which bloom at higher elevations later in the season, tend to peak in May and June in Yosemite Valley and Tuolumne Meadows, respectively.

Have a wildflower report? Let us know and share your photos for publish by e-mailing newsdesk@kcet.org.

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About the Author

Zach Behrens is KCETLink's Editor-in-Chief of Blogs, where he oversees website editorial and advises on projects. When he does write, he mostly covers local government, environment, and the outdoors.
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