Spring Show: Higher-Elevation Wildflowers

Pretty petals are making a stunning stand at higher elevations.

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BIDDING THE BUDS ADIEU, in a banner year, is a difficult thing for desert devotees. They know that a carpet-like vista of flowers doesn't come around all that often in California's arid places, and, when it does, it is a Very Big Deal. So much so that national publications outside of the Golden State take note, and those travelers who only rarely make it to the desert decide that this is the year. Thus saying goodbye to all of that photo-ready wowness can be hard for a floral fan, especially when the search for new flower sightings gets to be a bit more challenging, thanks to temperatures heating up. And while the mid-March word from Death Valley National Park was that "lower elevation flowers are fading," there are still stunning finds to be made around various Mojave-close, Joshua Tree-snug basins. Of course, wildflower season is just revving up in other quarters, like the higher elevation destinations of the state. Places like the Sierra and various peaks, the kind of spots you might still need a sweater or jacket while visiting, even in April, are reporting that poppies and lupine are starting to do their paint-the-hillside thing. Let's pause to note that Daffodil Hill in Amador County is now closed for the 2016, due to "recent rains." But toodling up a winding road somewhere in the Sierra, or upon a mountain closer to Southern California, is still very much in play for the year. Ready to find your favorite flower sweep? Then look to the... 

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK WILDFLOWER PAGE: The park's "11,000-foot range in elevation" means it has quite the lengthy season, all told, in the bud-beauty department. Fiddlenecks, tufted poppies, owl's clover, and other favorites start to make their March debuts around Merced River canyon, while the almost fictional-in-appearance snow plant can be found where there's still snow (hence its name). Whatever your pleasure, be it a lower-elevation patch of petal prettiness or a cold-loving snow plant, March and April and even May is your window into wildflowery wonders. Got a weekend to spend among these seasonal gems? Plot your course now.

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