First Anza Borrego trip - March 2010

V was heading out to Anza Borrego Desert State Park and I had a surprise day off (thanks Cesar Chavez!) so I tagged along.

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Only an hour or so outside of Los Angeles, the land became rocky and so green! This is how I imagine Ireland to look, but I have no idea if that's true.

The mountains looked blue in the background, especially compared with the bright green of the trees.

Soon, we started to see patches of wildflowers on the hillsides until we came across a section of the road where the carpets of yellow flowers were too much and we just had to stop and take some photos.

Most of these are goldfields (Lasthenia californica) I believe.

V had heard about the Agua Caliente hot springs so we headed to the south end of the park to check it out. Unfortunately, it turned out to be water from the hot springs in a pool complete with chlorine and that's not the experience we were looking for - we had been hoping for something more natural - so we decided to jump back in the car and go to the Borrego Springs area in search of some wildflowers. As we got back to the car a Greater Roadrunner hopped by in front of the car. Man, those birds are great.

We didn't have a map and it was a bit difficult to find the specific place V had wanted to see (she'd heard there were a ton of lupines there) but after a few false starts, fearing that the sun was going to set before we got into our hike, we drove to the end of a street called Coyote Way and just started walking.

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We'd picked the right spot and as we started climbing the hill there were lupines everywhere along with a ton of other colorful wildflowers. Here are some of my pictures:

Desert sand verbena (Abronia villosa) and desert dandelion (family Asteraceae) in the foreground
(at the N end of DiGiorgio Road)

These brittlebush blossoms (Encelia farinosa) were everywhere!

As were the Ocotillo cacti (Fouquieria splendens).

As we climbed the hill, the lupines (Lupinus sparsiflorus) were everywhere!

These beavertail cactus blooms (Opuntia basilaris) were so bright and unexpected coming out of these pickly cacti.

And this little beetle wouldn't stop posing for us.

This beautiful bloom is from a crazy sharp cactus, the silver cholla (Opuntia echinocarpa), we had encountered earlier in the day - in the form of its spines sticking right into our shoes! Also, at various points during the day we both had to extract the spines from our fingers. No fun. Still, a beautiful bloom. :)

Desert lily (Hesperocallis undulata)

Purple Heather (Krameria erecta)

And surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly!) we saw a mushroom!
Podaxis pistillaris I believe.

As the sun set, the colors on the mountains got even more beautiful. For more of my observations from this trip, see my page here (or click on the iNaturalist widget on the left). Some of the other flowers were: Bigelow's monkeyflower, baby blue eyes, chia, ghost flower, little gold poppy, and a few others I couldn't identify. Flower identification can be so difficult!

Such a beautiful place. Definitely worth another trip, but if I want to see more flowers it will have to wait until next spring! They're only around for a few weeks in the early spring. Check out this site for daily updates of where to see the best wildflowers. For only a few hours of your time and $20 in gas you can see some really amazing things right outside the city. Let me know if you need any tips on where to go.

Click here for more of my photos from Anza Borrego.