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The first wave of wildflowers is beginning to peak in the Santa Monica Mountains and across Southern California, as rainfall totals continue to grow. Large expanses of California poppies are being reported in numbers along the 15 freeway near Temecula. The Lake Elsinore community is bracing for big crowds and the city has launched a campaign to “preserve while you observe,” ahead of the predicted stampede of flower seekers.

Poppies are also beginning to bloom in the Antelope Valley Poppy Preserve, as well as along Highway 14 on the way to the preserve, with peak bloom expected in mid-March.

While a day trip to the famous poppy fields of the high desert is a California tradition, one doesn’t have to go far this year to find an abundance of the state flower in bloom. Large swaths of poppies are currently blooming in the Woolsey Fire burn area. Look for patches of bright orange in the meadows and hillsides at Upper Las Virgenes Open Space and Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyon park. Or, take a drive through Kanan Dume Road. Poppies are in full bloom by the side of the road just north of the official “Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area” sign. Look for fields of blue lupines near the end of the road, just at the Malibu city limit.

The National Park Service is asking that visitors stay on trails and not tread on vegetation so that everyone can enjoy the flowers. They also remind park visitors that Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area‬ is a national park. Regulations prohibit picking of wildflowers so they may produce seed for the next season. That’s good advice for all parts of the mountains, not just the areas with official protection.

The Messenger Mountain News will continue to post wildflower updates throughout the spring.


Suzanne Guldimann

Suzanne Guldimann is an author, artist, and musician who lives in Malibu and loves the Santa Monica Mountains. She has worked as a journalist reporting on local news and issues for more than a decade, and is the author of nine books of music for the harp. Suzanne's newest book, "Life in Malibu", explores local history and nature. She can be reached at

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