• Michael O'Keeffe

Adventure: Central Coast Superbloom

Following an exceptionally wet winter in California the coastal hills have come alive with spring wildflowers. While wildflowers are an annual occurrence in these parts in the spring, during times of above average precipitation the hills explode with color. Sometimes happening only once every decade this rare event is known as a superbloom. During these periods, an area spanning from the deserts of southern California to the rolling oak savannas of the Central Coast come to life. The phenomenon draws crowds from all over to see the kaleidoscopic hillsides. Having witnessed the last superbloom in 2017, I decided to head south to witness this year's superbloom for myself.

After a short flight to San Jose and a long drive down the 101, I made it to my first destination of the trip, Carrizo Plain National Monument. The Carrizo Plain is located about an hour and half east of San Luis Obispo on California's Central Coast. Typically, a hot dusty grassland, during the superbloom it becomes a wildflower filled paradise. The grass is thick with dew and is a vibrant green. Goldfields, lupine, and poppies literally paint the hillsides. I will say the Carrizo Plain is certainly a trek, the remote location means no cell service, no water, and the closest gas station is 50 miles away. So be prepared! It is worth the effort to get to, but I'll let the photos do the talking.

Continuing on my road trip I headed back west towards San Luis Obispo where I stopped for a coffee at Scout Coffee Co, a popular spot in downtown. I then stopped at the Libertine Brewery for lunch, a spot specializing in sour ales though they offer several local guest beers on tap. Driving up the coast on highway 1, I passed my old stomping grounds of Cambria, the elephant seal beaches, and eventually entered the rugged Big Sur coast. This stretch of highway is among my favorite drives in North America.

My original plan had me doing a quick overnight on Boronda Ridge in Big Sur, but a last minute adjustment had me doing a dayhike in Garrapata State Park. I ended up hiking the Rocky Ridge Trail to catch sunset. The trail which can be done as a 4.5 mile out and back, but can also be done in a 5 mile loop. The Rocky Ridge Trail is a stunning hike with expansive views of the Pacific and surrounding peaks. On this trip the ridge was a verdant green covered in stunning wildflowers all the while being above the fog and the ocean below. It was an all time sunset!

After a long day of hiking, driving, and exploring I spent the night in Santa Cruz. The following day was a slower day spent hanging out in Santa Cruz. Everytime I'm in Santa Cruz I'm sure to stop at Verve Coffee Roasters. A chill spot with excellent coffee and a nice boho vibe. Santa Cruz also has several great breweries including Humble Sea Brewing which features some nice "foggy" IPAs. I finished up my short weekend trip with a short 0.5 mile walk through a good ole fashioned grove of sequoia sempervirens at Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park only a few minutes north of Santa Cruz. This park doesn't feature the size or extent of the Redwood groves up north, but still impressive!


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