Visiting the Super Bloom in Santa Barbara
Sure, the super bloom in Lake Elsinore was beautiful (we all saw it on Instagram), but did you know there are other super blooms all over California? There was a lot of damage to the Poppies in Lake Elsinore from the mass amounts of people walking through them and off paths. The other blooms around California are definitely popular, but not as crowded as the Lake Elsinore one seems to be.
Just 50 miles North of Santa Barbara is Figueroa Mountain in Santa Ynez which is currently blooming with Poppies and Wild Lupine– about an hour and a half drive from Santa Barbara. The drive up the mountain is beautiful and you have a view of a mountain with bright orange and purple patches of flowers. We even stopped on the side of the road on the drive back to take some photos!
How to get there:
If you’re coming from Santa Barbara, take the 101 N and exit towards CA-154 towards Los Olivos/Lake Cachuma. You’ll then turn right onto CA-154 E and drive a few miles before you hit Los Olivos – turn left onto Figueroa Mountain Rd and continue for about 12 miles until you see the flowers on your left! There are a few parking areas along the way – don’t be temped to stop at these, the flowers are further ahead!
There is some parking along the side of the road directly across from the hillside of flowers and a small parking area a bit further up.
On the way back, I highly recommend stopping on the side of the road where you have a view of the flower-covered mountain. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen and worth a quick stop to get out of the car and take it all in.
Stay on the paths:
Poppies are very delicate and should absolutely never be stepped on – especially not for an Instagram pic. The Lupine is also very beautiful and should be given the same care. It’s important to stay on the paths and be mindful of where you step. There is one main path going diagonally up the hillside above the flowers and another smaller, more patchy path that goes between the flowers. Take the main path up the hill (it’s further to the right when looking at the flowers from the street). Once you get about 3/4 of the way up you’ll see the patchy, narrow pathway between the flowers. Unfortunately some clumsy, careless people have taken this path and mis-stepped which left behind some sad, smashed poppies.
Please be self-aware enough to know if you are able to navigate the narrow paths so no poppies or lupine are harmed.
3 Tips for taking photos:
Chances are you’re going to want to take some photos with the flowers – who wouldn’t?! Follow these tips to get the shot while being mindful of the flowers.
ONE. Stand at the bottom of the hillside with the poppies behind you and have the person taking the photo stand across the street. My sister and I took photos stranding in a dirt patch near the bottom but still had the flowers all behind us. This spot is ideal for taking portraits (zoom in!) so you can cut out the parts where you’re standing or group photos so you can get everyone in without venturing up the steep hill and risking someone stepping on the flowers.
TWO. Get low! While sitting on the path (yup, get down in the dirt), my sister crouched down to get some of the flowers in the foreground so the path I was sitting on wasn’t visible. This gives the illusion that you are sitting right in the middle of the dense flowers, not on dirt patch.
THREE. Bring your own flowers and use them in the foreground. We didn’t do this, but it’s something I know other people have done and it works really well. Have the person taking the photo hold the flowers right in front of the lens so they appear to be at your feet (if you’re standing). It will look like you’re surrounded by flowers even if you’re standing on the main path or the dirt near the road.
The hillside is pretty steep and I had a hard time balancing at some points. I had to be extra careful and move extra slow to make sure I didn’t step on any flowers – or fall all the way down the hill. Don’t carry too much with you. I didn’t have pockets so carrying my phone, camera, and car keys up and through the path was a bit tricky and not really recommended unless you have pockets to hold things in.
Get there early and go on a weekday if possible. We went on a Sunday which wasn’t the best option. The road there is very narrow and is a 2-way. Not too far along Figueroa Mountain Road people were all of a sudden stopping in the lane, parking, and leaving their cars. We were so confused considering it was another 9 miles to the flowers. Up ahead the road was blocked off while a large horse trailer passed through. This caused some crazy back-up and we ended up having to drive on the wrong side of the road after a break in the oncoming traffic just to get through. We almost turned around and many other people actually did!
Drive slowly and cautiously. It’s not a race to the top and the drive there is beautiful. The roads are narrow and winding with some people recklessly flying down the mountain around the curves. You really don’t want to get in an accident on this road because it would be awhile before emergency could get there. Sorry to be a downer, but I just feel the need to caution anyone I can because it can be dangerous. Large SUV’s and large trucks are not recommended because of the narrow passing space – it was difficult to get past some giant F-250s and some cars won’t slow down when passing. I drive a small, narrow pickup truck which did not feel too big – just the SUV’s and large trucks.
Did you visit the flowers after reading this post? Tag me @kesslerramirez in your flower photos on Instagram – I’d love to see them! :)