Southern California Desert Showered With Best Super Bloom in 20 Years

In 2016, desert sunflowers carpeted the floor of the Badwater Basin area in Death Valley National Park during a rare super bloom. This year's super bloom is occurring south in Anza Borrego National Park near San Diego. Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A notice on the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park website warns people to expect "extremely large number of visitors... heavy traffic congestion and long waits for parking." Why are people suddenly attracted to this California desert near San Diego? The answer is a lot more colorful than you think.

The Anza-Borrego Desert's wildflowers are blooming in a miasma, or "super bloom" of hues not seen in the park for nearly 20 years. "This is shaping up to be a great wildflower year!" officials wrote on the park's Facebook page. “Certainly not at ‘peak' yet... but desert lilies are spectacular, and other annuals are coming along nicely!”

This year, the burst of color is extremely dramatic due to recent heavy rains. Since July 2016, the area has received more than 7 inches (17.7 centimeters) of the stuff, most of it slow and gentle. That's a lot considering the area usually gets only 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) total, and these rains come after the region has experienced one of the worst droughts in history. 

Many different types of flowers, including purple sand verbena, are currently either in early bloom or budding, which makes mid-March to end of the month the best time to visit the park. The ideal time of day to see the blooms in all their glory is early morning.

So how long will the super bloom last? While it is currently peak season, rising temperatures, high winds and flower-loving caterpillars will ultimately dim the colorful display in a couple more weeks. If you can't make it, you can check out some the images of the desert in full bloom below.