Bear Valley wildflower meadows, Colusa County

Poppies in Bear Valley, Colusa
Poppies in Bear Valley, Colusa / Wikimedia Commons, user Agunther CC BY 3.0

WorldBlue  In short

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 impressiveness of floral display only Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve and also Carrizo Plain can compete with it.

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GPS coordinates
39.11129 N 122.42841 W
Location, 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
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

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WorldYellow In detail

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 that still are in a more or less pristine state. Bear Valley in Colusa County is one such place. American Land Conservancy owns land in a part of this valley (14,964 acres which is equal to 6,056 ha) and preserves it to show how looked California’s intercoastal valleys and ranges before the arrival of Western civilization.

Endless fields of flowers

For the 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 a sight of rare beauty. The otherwise desolate open landscape now becomes 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, a few weeks later there is not much to see anymore – natural processes have wiped away all flowers to nothingness.


  1. Plant List, Bear Valley, Walker Ridge & Surrounding Areas, California Native Plant Society, accessed on February 27, 2010
Bear Valley wildflower meadows are included in the following list:

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Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve / , Flickr / CC BY 2.0

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Golden Gate Bridge / David Ohmer, / CC BY 2.0

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Dragon’s Blood Trees, Soqatra / Rod Waddington, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0


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WorldYellow Recommended books

Colusa County; Its History Traced from a State of Nature Through the Early Period of Settlement and Development to the Present Day with a Description

This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can usually download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1891 edition.

A Natural History of California (California Natural History Guides)

In this comprehensive and abundantly illustrated book, Allan Schoenherr describes a state with a greater range of landforms, a greater variety of habitats, and more kinds of plants and animals than any area of equivalent size in all of North America.

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