Monday, April 05, 2010


Bear Valley & Capay Valley wildflowers - Colusa County & Yolo County, California USA.

Wildflower tour of the region: Bear Valley, Oat Valley, Sacramento Valley, Antelope Valley, Grapevine Pass, Indian Valley, Capay Valley.

JimH & I did another wildflower drive-around in the valleys of Colusa County on 03april2010. Although Bear Valley is justifiably famous for its wildflower display we also found lots of great wildflower blooms in many nearby valleys in Colusa & Yolo Counties.

After a few rainy days, the weather forecast for Saturday was for a rainless day with some sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon and rain the next two days. Instead, it turned out to be a cool, cloudy morning. Fruit tree blossoms in Capay Valley (elevation 210 feet) were almost finished. There were still blooms on redbuds, mustards, lupines and many others. Then we continued driving north on Hwy 16 along Cache Creek and Bear Creek up to the junction with Hwy 20.

Map of wildflower valleys in Colusa County & Yolo County.

Instructions for online interactive topographic maps & road maps.
• Click on Map button for road map, Topo button for topographic map.
Full-Screen Map - wildflower valleys in Colusa County & Yolo County.
• Names of landmarks (A, B, etc.) - DoubleClick or point on the red markers.

• N 38.71016 W 122.05845 - Capay Valley, elevation 210 feet (A)
• N 39.07118 W 122.41001 - Bear Valley, elevation 1290 feet (B)
• N 39.15988 W 122.39147 - Oat Valley, elevation 600 feet (C)
• N 39.13033 W 122.30899 - Sacramento Valley, elevation 230 feet (D)
• N 39.31013 W 122.33774 - Antelope Valley, elevation 370 feet (E)
• N 39.35793 W 122.45018 - Grapevine Pass, elevation 1800 feet (F)
• N 39.31252 W 122.48657 - Indian Valley, elevation 1280 feet (G)

• N 39.37684 W 122.75874 - Snow Mountain, elevation 7056 (Lake County) (H)
• N 39.43467 W 122.69334 - St John Mountain, elevation 6746 (Glenn County) (I)

A great afternoon of wildflower photography in Antelope Valley, Indian Valley, Bear Valley & Capay Valley!!
Wildflower blooms had advanced in the two weeks since our last visit to see Bear Valley wildflowers on 20mar2010, but the blooms were still not at their peak. The flowers had not yet fully opened on this cool, cloudy morning in Bear Valley (elevation 1290 feet). The grey skies and low light were not so good for photography of the flowers that were there.

At the north end of Bear Valley we went east through High Valley (elevation 1453 feet), then down into Oat Valley (elevation 600 feet) & Sacramento Valley (elevation 230) where we found some sunshine and wildflowers. Crossing over into Oat Valley we got some views of the fresh snow on Snow Mountain & St John Mountain.

Entry roads at the south end of Antelope Valley are no longer open, so we went north to enter Antelope Valley at the town of Sites. Antelope Valley (elevation 370 feet) had some good wildflowers. We found some wild mustards that had a nice, strong mustard flavor in the flower buds, so we collected some to take home.

DoubleClick on the photo to see a larger version - use the back button to return.

Antelope Valley wildflowers Colusa County
• Photo 84 - Antelope Valley wildflowers.

Fortunately then we went east over Grapevine Pass (elevation 1800 feet) into Indian Valley (elevation 1280 feet) where we found some incredible wildflower displays near the town of Lodoga, CA.

Indian Valley wildflowers Colusa County
• Photo 131 - Indian Valley wildflowers - Colusa County.

Then we retraced our path through Bear Valley. After some sun and warmth during midday the flowers were open, the light was better and the clouds had broken up into some dramatic skies. Photographer heaven !!

Bear Valley wildflowers Colusa County
• Photo 143 - Bear Valley wildflowers - Colusa County.

The afternoon also provided great views of wildflowers in Capay Valley.

Capay Valley wildflowers Yolo County
• Photo 144 - Capay Valley wildflowers - Yolo County.

• More photos: BRT wildflower photos. JimH wildflower photos.

On the way home we got some excellent tacos from the El Verduzco Taco Truck in Winters, CA. Then we went to Betty Lou's in Vacaville, CA for chips & beer and watched the Sacramento Kings game on the big screen TV.

The mustard flower buds we collected from Antelope Valley added a nice flavor to my scrambled eggs on Sunday.

For more information:
California Native Plant Society
Calflora - wild plants of California
Celebrating Wildflowers - US Forest Service
California Wildflowers - California Academy of Science
Wildflower Viewing - Colusa County Resource Conservation District
California Maps - Atlas & Gazetteer by Delorme, 2008.
Colusa County Trailheads Map - BRT Insights.
Bear Creek Recreation & Conservation Directory. (Sort alphabetically. Section 5 = camping & hiking)
Hiking & Camping Trip Reports - BRT Insights.
• BRT: Olympus Stylus 720SW camera. JimH: Olympus Stylus 850SW camera.
• Photos edited with IrfanView & PanoStitcher softwares.

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When do you think the flowers will peak, or is it too late?
Flower blooms have been increasing on each of the three trips I have made there this year. Based on what I've read the peak bloom should be sometime in mid April, but with all of the rain we've had in April this year the bloom could be extended much longer than normal.
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