Wildflowers Bloom in Anza-Borrego

The word is spreading like, like, well, like wildflowers!

The wildflowers are blooming in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

In a region where the seasons can seem short and mixed-up, the wildflower season at the 600,000-acre park is a sure sign that spring is on its way.

It's Southern California's version of Groundhog Day. This year's season has gotten off to an early start. Blooms of brittlebush, chuparosa, popcorn flower, sand verbena, spectacle pod, and desert lily have popped up in recent days, according to the Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute.

"We anticipate the peak blooming season to hit between the 3rd week of February and the 2nd week of March, depending on the weather," Michael Rodriques, the manager of the Park's Visitor Center, said in a e-mail message.

The park sprawls over portions of eastern San Diego County as well as parts of Imperial and Riverside counties.

Officials suggest a visit to the northern edge of Borrego Springs on Henderson Canyon Road and at the northern end of DiGiorgio Road, about ¼ mile beyond the end of the pavement. Hikes in Borrego Palm Canyon or Plum Canyon will also bring blooms into view.

Earlier blooms were mostly found in scattered washes around the park and at lower elevations such as the Carrizo Badlands overlook at Sweeney Pass, Indian Valley and the Bow Willow Campground.

For more information, call the Wildflower Hotline (760-767-4684), the state park's website (Parks.CA.Gov) or Anza-Borrego Foundation and Institute's website (theABF.org).

The websites list sights, as well as organized hikes and tours. California Overland offers licensed tours in jeeps and other vehicles. Call (760) 767-1232 or CaliforniaOverLand.com.

While there, keep an eye open for Peninsular Big Horn sheep and a variety of rare birds such at Bell's vireo.

If you are wondering about the name, the first part is for Juan Bautista de Anza, the Spaniard who explored California in the 1770s. Borrego is Spanish for lamb, a word connected to the Peninsular bighorn sheep.