Spring in California is the season residents and visitors wait for in eager anticipation. Pacheco State Park in Merced County is just one area in the 209 that bursts into a canvas of unimaginable beauty as delicate wildflowers adorn the landscape with hundreds of lavish colors.
Located 25 west of Los Banos, Pacheco State Park is transformed from a dry and barren land into a sea of flowers each spring. Along with the spectacle of poppies, dozens of other kinds of wildflowers can be found on or near the reserve, including owl’s clover, indigo lupine, goldfield, cream cups, and golden coreopsis.
“The duration of the wildflowers depends heavily on the amount of rain we receive annually,” said PSP Ranger Betty Wong. “The greatest blooming time for wildflowers usually occurs during the month of April.”
The park has beautiful displays of spring wildflowers, scenic vistas, and outstanding trails for horse-back riding, hiking, and mountain biking. The 28 miles of trails offer several loop options to give visitors the choice of a hike or ride from one to 20 miles or more.
During the spring the park’s grassy slopes abound with blossoming wildflowers. The park is home to tule elk, deer, bobcat, coyote, fox, several hawks, golden eagles and many other smaller animals.
“Every year we get hundreds of visitors from Northern California who come to Pacheco just to see the wildflowers,” added Wong. “The scenery is unbelievable. It’s a rainbow of colors in land.”
Pacheco State Park will celebrate its most anticipated day of the year with the return of the 10th annual Wildflower Day on April 6.
“It’s the most popular event held in the park,” said Wong. “Every year we have about 100 people and their families that attend. We have arts and crafts for the kids and 10 different wildflower stations.”
The event will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 6 and includes a birding walk at 9:30 a.m., followed by a nature hike led by retired ranger David Milam. People from State Parks, the Four Rivers Association, the California Native Plant Society, the Central Valley Bird Club and many others will be on hand to answer questions.
“The weather at Pacheco State Park can vary so we ask people to dress appropriately and bring extra sunscreen,” said Wong. “Families are encouraged to bring their own picnic lunch.”
There is an entrance fee of $5 per vehicle.
Pacheco State Park is at the top of historic Pacheco Pass: Take the Dinosaur Point Road Exit off of Highway 152, 25 miles west of Los Banos and 23 miles east of Gilroy, and follow the signs. The park is at 38787 Dinosaur Point Road, Hollister. For more information or to request aids or services for people with disabilities, call 826-1197 or 826-8283 or email State Park Ranger Betty Wong at Betty.Wong@parks.ca.gov
— NANCY ANGEL
209 staff reporter