Insights From The California Desert Super Bloom

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Desert flowers from Anza Borego Springs with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel
Desert flowers from Anza Borego Springs with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel

When the desert blooms, get ready for change!

Searching for the super blooms sounded like a great adventure, and we settled in for a long, scenic drive ready to see the transformation we’d heard so much about in the California desert. As we approached Anza Borrego Springs, the mountainous terrain changed to rocky high hills dotted with cactus and rams romping on the hills. We rounded the corner, and while the temperature climbed about twenty degrees, traffic slowed to a crawl, all of us with the same intent. After at least seven years of drought, and with the most rain in over 20 years, the desert was said to be filled with blossoms as far as the eye could see. As a resilience expert, I was intrigued by that description. In a normally barren place, could it really be filled with new life?

Big mountains before the desert valley with Elizabeth Van Tassel

Big mountains and rocky terrain as you approach the valley.

Yellow flowers with Resilience Expert Elizabeth Van Tassel

As traffic slowed, I caught my first flash of wildflowers blooming alongside the road.


We approached the canyon floor and my kids rolled down their windows. We were handed a map by courteous volunteers. My husband had researched what views he wanted to take in, which was a very smart thing since even in the morning light, the crowds were thick on each side into the town. We tried to be patient and headed out to the more remote areas. I was secretly hoping this would be worth the drive and make a special memory for us after waiting to go for the last fifteen years.

Finally, we pulled up and hopped out near some neat sculptures and blue, yellow, and white flowers.

Cactus and multi-colored flowers with the desert super bloom.

Gorgeous flowers, but be mindful of the cactus as you explore the multi-colored blooms, just steps from the road.

My husband and I are both avid photographers and started snapping, when my son Joey asked to share the camera. He loves shooting videos and anything mechanical and was getting ready to be artistic, when he put his hand right into a cactus. Oh, the howling! Thankfully some firefighters nearby showed us how to remove the spines which were vicious. Being a bit more cautious, we rode further up the road to an area without cactus and which brought the most amazing surprise.

The smell. The little white flowers filled the usually barren landscape as far as we could see.

White flowers on the desert floor with lucious scents with resilience expert Elizabeth Van Tassel.

The magical little white flowers here filled the air with honey-sweet gentle breezes, so heady and magnificent. Sort of like sweet alyssum but more gently alluring.

I wasn’t prepared to fall in love with the smell so much. I’d wished we’d gotten there before the heat of the day so we could sit and enjoy it more. Finally we reached the end of the road, and found a sea of yellow flowers reaching to the mountain sides. Keep in mind that most of the year, this is just sand and a few scrub bushes!

Orange flowers on the desert floor with resilience expert Elizabeth Van Tassel.

I felt like I’d stumbled into The Wizard of Oz with these golden blossoms and the heady white ones sending their desert bloom sent skyward!

The serenity and unexpected sweetness of what’s usually such a dry and lonely place really spoke to me somewhere deep inside. The part that’s coping with a move after fifteen years, our own new blooming in a new town to come. Beauty really touches me and helps me to endure the twists and turns of the road. I feel more connected to things that will last and bring depth in life, and the love of family and faith resound.



A short video tour of the desert follows a special update about two guest blog posts! Whether dealing with change on the Shine Beyond Blog with Ralene Burke or conquering fear that your dreams won’t come true on the Fear Warrior Blog with Jerusha Agen , the impossibly gorgeous and fragrant blossoms in the once barren desert inspire us all to press on. Further up, further in, as C.S. Lewis would say! Join me on both blogs next week.

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