Nature is putting on a show in the Southern California desert that may go down as one of the best in years.
The contrast of colorful wildflowers popping up out of desert sand only lasts a few weeks every year, and this year, the magnitude of it is impressing even the experts.
"It's just a garden of eden," says Betsy Knaak whose been with the Anza Borrego Natural History Association since 1984. "I would put it in the excellent category."
The winter rain is being credited for the super bloom. While Borrego Springs is only slightly above normal for the season, the most recent rain, right before the bloom, may have done the trick. Last month, the desert saw 1.68" of rain, making it the rainiest February since 2005.
"More rain means water is able to soak deeper into our sandy soil where the native wildflower seeds are, and so that creates additional germination," says Knaak.
She estimates the crowds coming to see the flowers this year are about five times the number during a normal year.
"The mood is like, 'This is the place to be,'" she says. "The word is spreading all over country."
In the association's gift shop, Kathy DeMunck says the phone has been ringing nonstop.
"The first 22 minutes we were here [today], we had 22 phone calls," said DeMunck. "So, this is important to the well being of this town."
"I just thought it's a great opportunity. We may not be able to see this again for another 20 years," said Chris King who drove out from Fallbrook.
Hotels are booked and day travelers have found weekend traffic jams on what would normally be quiet backcountry roads.
The San Diego County Sheriffs Department put out an advisory reminding people to park legally and not to trespass.
The bloom only lasts a few weeks. In the meantime, the businesses of Borrego Springs will soak up every last drop of tourism before the long hot summer sets in.
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