Anza Borrego desert flaunts spectacular flower show after rains

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BORREGO SPRINGS – With more than seven inches of rain this season, the desert has produced a kaleidoscopic bloom rarely seen in recent years. The hills and valleys of the Anza Borrego desert filled with color after the wet winter gave forth to innumerable seeds sprouting, changing the normally barren sandy floor into a lush, verdant covering seldom seen by tourist and desert dweller alike.

Up through Coyote Canyon pass, green was the dominant color, but looking closely, small white flowers topped many of the grasses while clumps of purple sand verbena and yellow desert sunflowers were showstoppers. The majestic desert lily plants bloomed in many locations, including the badlands east of Borrego Springs.

The road leading to the Anza Borrego State park was lined with tourists hoping to hike the lush desert, including the popular Palm Canyon Trail whose creek was overflowing — inviting the reticent big horn sheep who were visible taking advantage of nature’s abundance.

“I can’t believe how much water was in the canyon, and I have never seen so many sheep in one visit,” one tourist remarked upon returning from the three-hour hike to the oasis.

Borrego Palm Canyon was especially beautiful, with Canterbury Bells, Poppies, Monkeyflower, and Phacelia blooming against the ever-present bright green foliage. Brittlebushes were loaded with buds, and bursting with bright yellow flowers. Hellhole Canyon had similar flowers, and while it is a longer hike, it was an option when the parking lot for Borrego Palm Canyon filled up. Holding their own in population and color were the dune evening primrose and the bright yellow Parish’s poppies which covered the hillsides in breathtaking fashion.

All the color contrasted against the rich majestic purple desert mountains, as the blue sky and white clouds moved across the horizon throwing interesting shadows on the rugged landscape temporarily softened by color.

Happy restaurant owners in Borrego also saw green coming their way, as traffic snarls were visible at the entrance to the many local eateries as wait times stretched into hours. Some restaurants closed with homemade signs hanging on their doors reporting they had run out of food. The art shops and novelty stores catered to those who took a break from the sightseeing to purchase a souvenir to remember the colorful desert adventure.