Early spring is one of the best times of year to visit the San Joaquin Valley, because the entire valley is covered in pink blossoms from all of the almond trees. This usually occurs around the last week of February and lasts until very early March (it always comes up way sooner than I think it should). Combined with generally clear air, nice mountain views, and a green landscape (all totally dependent on the amount of rain over the winter), I always think this is the time where the valley is at its peak beauty.
I always like to take some time to drive around and admire all of the almond trees. Around Bakersfield, my favorite spots to go for pictures are at the end of Panama Lane close to where it merges with I-5, up Route 43 toward Shafter, and out at the end of Coffee Road along 7th Standard. Chances are, you’ll run into some almond orchards pretty easily if driving around the outskirts of Bakersfield, and there are plenty to see off of the highways between LA and up through Fresno if you just want to enjoy all of the pink trees as you drive.
I grew up in Maryland and always went to see the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, DC with my family every spring, so to me this activity always brings a sense of nostalgia. The almond trees all have very pretty pink flowers that remind me a lot of the Cherry Blossoms when they are in their peak season.
Some things to note about the almond trees, especially if you want to stop and take pictures:
- There will be bees everywhere!
- The bees are brought in to pollinate all of those beautiful flowers. Only pollinated flowers will turn into an almond, so the bees are very busy and have a very important job. Please do not try to touch the bees, swat at the bees, or hurt the bees in any way. Just be aware that they are there and do not provoke them, and all will be well. They are there for a reason and are very important to the process!
- Most of these farms are private property
- I always feel like I’m trespassing whenever I take pictures, but I do it anyway and so far so good. If you’re concerned about getting in trouble, the fields out by the end of Coffee are a very popular picture spot. In addition, you can pay to go out and see the orchard at Murray Family Farms, which is very picture friendly and open to the public. Fresno also has a very popular Flower Trail which is open to the public for photos as well.
- They often spray the trees around the time they start blooming/forming leaves
- If you go toward the end of the season, they may be spraying the trees with various pesticides/fertilizers. It’s pretty obvious when they are (there will be a lot of trucks and activity), so just be aware of your surroundings and don’t stop at a field that is actively being worked on.
- Bring your allergy medicine!
- There is pollen and dust everywhere. Come prepared.
I hope this was a helpful guide to visiting the almond flowers! I posted this a little late for this year (most trees are all green by now), but I wanted to have it up for future reference. Pictures are all from this year’s almond adventures!