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Bear Valley wildflower meadows, Colusa County

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 39.11129 N 122.42841 W
No:25        (list of all attractions)
Address:North America, United States, California, Colusa County, 100 km north-west from Sacramento, 25 km north-east from Clearlake, in the Bear Valley east of Indian Valley Reservoir
Area:14,946 acres = 6,056 ha
Dominating species:California poppy ((Eschscholzia californica Cham.), creamcup (Platystemon californicus Benth.), adobe lily (Fritillaria pluriflora Torr. ex Benth.) and many others
Poppies in Bear Valley, Colusa
Poppies in Bear Valley, Colusa / Wikimedia Commons, user Agunther CC BY 3.0

Although Bear Valley wildflower meadows in Colusa County are comparatively little known, these meadows belong to the most impressive arid grasslands of California. In fact regarding the area and impresiveness of floral display only Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve and Carrizo Plain can compete with it.

Remnant of the grandeur of the past

Ancient ecosystems of California have seen much change over the last 100 - 150 years. Fertile valleys have lured in many millions of people and nobody else is as efficient in altering the landscape as modern humans are. In the middle of the 19th century the vast, desolate valleys of California still were living their natural life without much interference from people. Nowadays little remains of the original landscape. Cattle, fences, irrigation, arable land and finally - endless urban sprawl have changed the valleys beyond recognition.

Happily there are places which still are in a more or less pristine state. Bear Valley in Colusa County is one of such places. Land in a part of this valley (14,964 acres = 6,056 ha) is owned by American Land Conservancy and it is preserved to show how looked California's intercoastal valleys and ranges before the arrival of Western civilisation.

Endless fields of flowers

For most part of the year the valley represents a desert-like, somewhat grey landscape. But, if the weather conditions during the winter have been suitable, in late February - March it changes beyond recognition.

Plains and hillsides are covered with brilliant colors. California poppy, creamcup, owl's clover and even the rare adobe lily create sight of rare beauty. The otherwise desolate open landscape now becomes a merit - it lets to sense the grandeur of nature and opens sight to millions of fragile flowers. If you are lucky, you manage to see all this incomprehensible wealth. If not, few weeks later there is not much to see anymore - natural processes have wiped away all flowers to nothingness.


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