Mariposa & Yosemite

Foothill poppy show in full bloom

California poppies are appearing in brilliant carpets of orange from the Merced River to the ridgeline along the Merced River Canyon, several miles west of Yosemite National Park.

People who live in the area say it's one of the best poppy shows they have seen in decades. It probably peaked last week, but should still be striking for several days, experts say.

The storms of February brought enough moisture at just the right time for the poppies to blossom before tall grass grew.

Plant ecologist Peggy Moore of the U.S. Geological Survey said last summer's 34,000-acre Telegraph Fire also helped by opening barren places for the flowers to grow.

"Within the areas where the fire burned, it is a very nice display," she said.

Moore said visitors could see the show simply by driving along Highway 140 through the canyon as it winds toward Yosemite.

There are other wildflowers as well, she said. Baby blue eyes have formed in small patches throughout the orange poppies. Also look for such colors as the blue-violet of bird's eye gilia and the white of popcorn flowers.

But the show might not be as brilliant in a week or two.

"Right now, grasses in the area are starting to grow and overtop the flowers," she said. "When these grasses get a slower start, like they did this year, that's when we get our poppy displays."