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February 13, 2023

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The California Superbloom wildflower season is upon us, which brings a silver lining to all those rainy days we’ve experienced recently. The last dramatic wildflower bloom in California happened back in the spring of 2019. Now, four years later, wildflowers in Santa Barbara County are on full display, bringing patches of bright orange poppies and white lilies to our hillsides and mountain roads with blue dicks, purple lupines, and more popping up along some trails.

What is a Superbloom?

Woman in straw hat facing acres of California poppies, with the sun setting on the horizon
Photo by Christian Mikhael on Unsplash

Approximately 2,000 kinds of native plants call Santa Barbara County home. Many of the golden state's annual plants have existed as seeds in the soil for decades, waiting for the right conditions to germinate. The combination of years of drought, fire, and record-setting rain has brought those seeds to life in a psychedelic show of wildflowers all around Santa Barbara County.

We’re all familiar with the California poppy, our state’s flower, and you’re already seeing those in abundance this year. But even more, ephemeral blooms are joining in Mother Nature’s show, including the late-flowered mariposa lily, Catalina mariposa lily, pale yellow tidytips, Humboldt lily, and Santa Ynez false lupine. As a result, Instagram-happy locals and visitors are heading to Poppy Preserves and hiking trails surrounding Santa Barbara to witness the rare spectacle. Yes, those fortunate enough to live here have quite a show right in our own backyard whenever the conditions are right like they are this year.

Right now, you can see beautiful splashes of wildflowers everywhere in Santa Barbara County. Even some of the luxury homes here offer a spectacular view of the majestic Santa Ynez Mountains where wildflowers grow. Located in the Los Padres National Forest, these mountains are filled with excellent hiking trails, many of which culminate with spectacular views of the city, the ocean, and, for a brief time, wildflowers.

Rolling hills covered in California Poppies with blue sky over hills in the background
Photo by Pamela Heckel on Unsplash

Wildflower Superbloom Sites in and Around Santa Barbara:

1) Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
The Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve comes to life with wildflowers every year and, occasionally, a superbloom. Enjoy eight miles of trails through gently rolling hills, but remember that everything on the trail is protected, so don't pick the flowers. Poppies wilt immediately after being picked anyway, and they hold the seeds needed for the following year's wildflowers.

2) Carrizo Plain National Monument
Wildflowers carpet the valley floor of the Carrizo Plain National Monument, one of the best-kept secrets in the Golden State. This large enclosed grassland plain, approximately 50 miles long and up to 15 miles across, is so quiet, some visitors say they can hear the flowers bloom.

    Close-up of beautiful yellow wildflowers reaching up to a blue sky
    Photo by Hari Nandakumar on Unsplash

    3) Channel Islands National Park
    Home to more than 800 plant species, each of the eight islands has it's own unique topography. The best viewing of wild flowers occurs on Santa Barbara, Anacapa, and San Miguel Islands. During a typical year of rainfall, wildflowers reach peak bloom around late winter and early, but in a superbloom year, the season can be longer and the show especially spectacular. Generally, the blooming begins and ends earlier the farther east and south the islands are located.

    4) Point Mugu State Park
    Take a breathtaking drive down the Pacific Coast Highway to Point Mugu State Park in Malibu and enjoy the superbloom while taking in a memorable beach sunset. With the park's 70 miles of hiking trails, you're bound to spot lush blooms along the path and in the distance.

    5) New Cuyama
    Wildflowers are also in full display near New Cuyama in northern Santa Barbara County. You’ll see them as you drive down Highway 166, where the hillsides that overlook the valley are carpeted in wildflowers. The best way to experience this year’s wildflower show is by taking the Painted Rock Trail, a 2.5-mile out-and-back trek that will take your breath away from the sights.

      Tall Purple lupine shaded by a tree with the sun shining through
      Photo by Irina Iriser on Unsplash

      6) Figueroa Mountain
      Then there is the Figueroa Mountain recreation area near Los Olivos. This area is already carpeted with several different types of wildflowers. Keep an eye out for Chocolate Lilies blooming with Shooting Stars and Baby Blue Eyes, Buttercups, milkmaids, sky lupines, and California poppies.

      7) Grass Mountain
      Grass Mountain sits close to Figueroa Mountain in the Santa Ynez Valley and is now painted thick with poppies and lupine. Shiny buttercups, milkmaids, and fiddlenecks are in bloom near the base. You'll find shooting stars, popcorn flowers, and Johnny jump-ups a little way up. All around, you'll see fields of ceanothus that resemble sprinklings of snow.

      8) Happy Canyon
      Chocolate lilies and goldfields can be found at Vista Point, while Sunset Valley, ordinarily slow to blossom, is awash in tufted yellow California poppies. Happy Canyon is also covered with blue dicks, coreopsis and many other wildflower species.

      9) Santa Barbara Botanic Garden
      You don’t have to drive out of town to see wildflowers. Just head to the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden (SBBG), a living museum with a mission to conserve native plants for the health and well-being of all. The nonprofit’s meadow comes alive with color every year, featuring meadowfoam, farewell-to-spring, succulent lupines, and California poppies. SBBG’s collections-based research preserves California native plants and displays them in a beautiful setting. How cool is that?

        Why not make one of my Montecito homes for sale your wildflower viewing hub before the next superbloom arrives? I feel so blessed to live in such a wonderful and beautiful community where we can experience the beauty all around. White sandy beaches? Check. Perfect Mediterranean weather? Check. Wildflower superbloom? Check. If you are looking to move here or thinking about moving into a new home in Montecito, Hope Ranch, or any of Santa Barbara's upscale communities, please call me at (805) 886-9378 or email me at

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        “It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

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        - T.C.

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        “I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

        - M.A.

        “Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

        - D.K.

        “Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

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        “After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

        - Michael & Nancy Lee

        “Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

        - Richard and Catherine Frinier

        “Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

        - Laurie Siegel

        “We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

        - Ken Saffir

        “Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

        - Michael & Susan Marquart

        “A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

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