The fresh and fragrant smell of wildflowers. The warmth of the sun against your skin. Even though every season has its merits, spring in Bishop’s big backyard is our favorite… or until the next season arrives. Like a well-orchestrated symphony, wildflowers start slowly typically in February and climax with blooming fireworks in the high country around early July. Here’s a quick rundown of what to expect and where to find the best displays in our region.
February/March– Death Valley
Bishop’s big backyard is home to the tallest peak in the lower 48 as well as the lowest in North America. You would expect a place with “death” in its name to be a barren wasteland. Although it’s home to a very harsh environment, on certain occasions the meteorological stars align, and a rare occurrence happens – wildflowers. What’s required is a heavy rain early in the season, which we had this year. This should provide a great show sometime in February but like all things in nature it’s not always like clockwork. It depends on the amount, pattern of rainfall and subsequent temperatures to when these flowers will bloom.
March/April – Owens Valley
Despite being a few thousand feet higher, the Owens Valley is still home to a warm and sunny climate. This gives visitors and residents alike the opportunity to experience four seasons of fun even mid-winter. Being the high desert, sometimes the rains to create a mega-wildflower display IN the valley don’t show up. Not to worry this year. Bishop has received more rain in the last four months than in the previous TWO years!!! Our valley will be inundated with the herbaceous scents of wild sage.
Local’s Tip: If you’re out camping or a moonlight stroll, keep your eyes peeled for Evening Snow. This delicate flower only blossoms at night and has the aroma of jasmine.
April/May – Buttermilks & Canyons
By late spring, the snow continues to recede up higher and is replaced by the colors of spring. Wildflowers can be spotted at the mouths of canyons as well as the bouldering hotbed of the Buttermilks. Be sure to bring your mountain bike and hit the Lower Creek Trail. Around this time of year, Desert Wild Rose blooms BIG on this trail. As you descend, you’ll be rewarded with a sensory overload with bright colors as well as the olfactory perfume of these flowers blooming.
June/July – High Sierra
By early summer the fireworks are in full roar in the high country. It all depends on when the snow melts away. On big snow years this could mean as late as July. In the higher elevations, the concentration of displays is near or around water like creeks, lakes, or streams. This includes perennial favorites like McGee Creek and Rock Creek.
The Full Scoop
Now that you’re excited for the upcoming season, we know you want to learn more. Be sure to visit our Wildflowers homepage. It dives into what makes for a good bloom and provides access to up-to-date wildflower reports.