Visiting Calla Lily Valley in Garrapata State Park
I have lived in Northern California my entire life and, yet, I continue to make new discoveries of hidden gems every year. Recently, I saw a post on Instagram from a fellow travel blogger about a field of calla lily flowers in nearby Monterey County. Imagine my surprise when I realized it was in a spot I have driven past so many times. If you are keen to check out calla lily valley in Garrapata State Park, read on for the details.
When to go:
The calla lilies bloom from mid-February to mid-April. We went the first weekend of February and there were quite a bunch already.
Where to go:
This is where it gets tricky. Unfortunately, there isn’t a sign for calla lily valley. You will need to look for a few landmarks or use GPS coordinates to find the spot as it is easy to cruise right by. Cell service for most carriers is completely out of range here so plan on an alternative way of mapping. See below for the GPS coordinate for the approximate location.
If you’re like me and usually grab a Starbucks for the road, visit Starbucks in Carmel-by-the-Sea on Rio Road first. From here, it is approximately a 15 minute drive to the spot. After you have passed the Granite Canyon Bridge, it is only about another minute of drive time.
After you have passed the bridge mentioned above, you will start to see some cars parked along the road. This is the spot! Right across from the small trailhead is a metal gate with a green sign that says Doud Creek Ranch. All parking to see calla lily valley will be street parking alongside Highway 1 – there is no lot. Try to unload on the passengers side, if possible.
Getting to Calla Lily Valley:
Thankfully, the walk to the lillies is less than 5 minutes on an easy, packed trail. There are a few rocky spots where you will need to hold a child’s hand but my 2 year old managed just fine. There is a staircase for the last part so be prepared if anyone in your party has mobility issues.
What to Expect:
The valley itself is pretty small so you could easily spend a short amount of time here snapping a few photos. Since it is a decent drive for most visitors, you can continue a very short walk to Garrapata State Beach or get back in your car and continue down the coast more. The beach itself is quite expansive and provides lots of options for playing in the water, walking along the beach and building sand castles.
If you go on a weekend during the peak bloom, be prepared for crowds and a longer walk along Highway 1. If at all possible, consider coming on a weekday. We came around 3pm on a Friday and there were only a few other groups around.
OK to bring children?
Absolutely, yes! While you may get significantly less time to admire the flowers when a curious toddler spots the beach, it is still worthwhile. We did have our hiking backpack carrier but opted to have our son walk (or we carried him) since the walk was relatively short and not too strenuous. Do keep a close eye on children as there is a small stream flowing from from the hills to the sea and I can imagine the water flow picks up after rain.
Do be sure to pack a pair of sturdy water shoes that are great for both hiking and beach time as well as some sand toys, a beach blanket, snacks and some drinks. Avoid bringing a wagon or stroller as it will be very difficult to maneuver.
Have you visited? Tell me about your experience in the comments!