Hundreds of people flocked to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park for ‘imaginary’ superbloom
Hundreds of visitors showed up to Sugarloaf Ridge State Park recently, hoping to see a superbloom that didn’t exist.
The Wall Street Journal, among many other news outlets, listed Sugarloaf as one of Northern California’s parks known for poppy superblooms. This coverage drew visitors from the South Bay and even Utah and Canada.
Following one of the wettest rainy seasons in recent years, naturalists have said California could see an explosion of wildflowers this spring. But a lack of warm days has delayed the so-called superbloom, leading the Sonoma Ecology Center, which manages the park to post on social media that the phenomenon has not been seen locally, to avoid disappointing visitors.
According to Dan Levitis, volunteer coordinator at Sugarloaf, the park had to turn dozens of people away over the weekend because the parking lot was full by mid morning. Many of the visitors told him they were there to see the superbloom.
Levitis, who was stationed at the park’s entrance kiosk for a handful of hours on April 15, sighed as he described a never-ending line of cars that waited for parking lot spaces to clear up. The park made a flier that they handed to each vehicle with the title: “Sonoma Ecology Center response to false media reports of a ‘superbloom’ at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park.“
“There is no superbloom, and Team Sugarloaf has been saying for weeks that media reports of one are incorrect. Sonoma Ecology Center, which operates this park for the State of California, does not know the source of these false reports in the media. No reporters have contacted us about this,” wrote the ecology center at the top of the flier.
The handout also explained which flowers were in bloom, and that more will come with peak season, which is slated for mid-May.
“It was extremely busy because we had hundreds of people showing up for a superbloom that was imaginary,” Levitis said. “We love to have people come to the park but we hate to have people disappointed.”
Levitis said that over 200 people called ahead to ask about the superbloom, and even through they were able to inform the callers it may not be worth the drive, there were still hundreds who showed up at the park.
“It’s not pleasant to have to explain to people that they were brought here on false pretenses,” Levitis said.
Not only has peak bloom not yet hit the park, but “superbloom” still won’t be the accurate way to describe the floral mountainside when the flowers do erupt from their winter slumber.
“Outside of the deserts California does not really have a ‘superbloom’ phenomenon, because we always get enough rain for some kind of spring wildflower bloom, although some years are better than others. So far, in eastern Sonoma County, the wildflowers are great, but not especially unusual this year. But there’s still more of the season left,“ Caitlin Cornwall, senior project manger at the Sonoma Ecology Center, said in an email to the Index-Tribune.
According to Levitis, Sugarloaf recorded over 400 species of wildflowers within the park in April of 2021. This year, the count for the same month has reached 61.
Peak season is expected to hit sometime between mid-May or June.
“There are already many beautiful flowers blooming in the park, and two to four weeks from now there will be more,” Levitis said. “It is certainly likely that a month from now there will be spectacular hillsides full of wildflowers at Sugarloaf.”
“We’re hoping that the word has gotten out enough that people will come with more realistic expectations,” Levitis said.
Though peak blooms have yet to pop up, local parks still boast pretty flowers and hillside views.
Sugarloaf Ridge State Park
Suagrloaf has a variety of hikes each week that anyone can register for. From fitness hikes, to wildflower and butterfly walks, there’s something for every outdoorsman.
To view the full lineup of hikes, visit sonomaecologycenter.org.
Jack London State Historic Park
Jack London Park has its own “Blooming Now” guide to show visitors what wildflowers are blooming on site and where to find them.
They also have Wildflower Walks which take hikers on a guided tour of different wildflowers in bloom. Spots are limited and fill up fast, but the best way to be alerted about the walks when they become available is through the park’s newsletter, which people can join by clicking “join mailing list” on jacklondonpark.com.
Sonoma Botanical Gardens
The garden is expecting a particularly vibrant spring bloom in the 25-acre Asian Woodland and on the newly opened California Oaks Trail.
There is currently a flower guide on the garden’s website at sonomabg.org, but its recommended to follow it on Facebook and Instagram for the most up to date information.
You can reach Staff Writer Rebecca Wolff at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @bexwolff.
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