Visiting Calla Lily Valley in Garrapata State Park

February 6, 2021millionmilermom
Calla Lily Valley with the Pacific Ocean in the background.

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.

Parking:

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.

The last part of the trail is stairs.

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!

Enjoy your time at this little slice of heaven on Earth. Garrapata State Beach on California’s coast.
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Comments (12)

  • uoprincess

    February 7, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Do the lilies grow naturally or did someone plant them. Near where I live in Rhode Island there is a random hidden lotus pond that someone planted many years ago.

    1. millionmilermom

      February 7, 2021 at 3:18 pm

      I haven’t been able to find any info on their origins. It is a totally random spot without any signage or anything. I’m guessing it is man created since I haven’t seen this anywhere else along the coast.

    2. Olivia Mandilk

      April 8, 2021 at 7:24 pm

      The Calla Lily is not native to California. It is grown as an ornamental plant, and most invading populations are found near human habitations in coastal prairies and wetlands. They are considered an invasive species in some areas of the U.S.

  • Shizzle

    February 8, 2021 at 1:52 pm

    Super cool and very off the beaten path! Just the type of place I love! Thanks for sharing!

    1. millionmilermom

      February 8, 2021 at 1:55 pm

      It was definitely cool and loved how you can also visit a gorgeous beach to make a day of it!

  • CS Ginger

    February 9, 2021 at 12:07 pm

    Oh this is so gorgeous! I love flowers so much. We often visit the botanical gardens during our travels

  • taytrumtravels

    February 9, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    I’ve lived in CA for 10 years and haven’t heard of this place! What great spot! Pinning for later!

  • Charlotte

    February 9, 2021 at 11:21 pm

    This place looks and sounds beautiful! I love the way you have to find it! Amazing!

  • Suz | TravelsWithSuz.com

    February 10, 2021 at 12:17 am

    Oh, wow! I LOVE calla lilies! I’m going to have to bookmark this place on google maps for the next time I’m in northern California. It’s spectacular!

  • Shelley

    February 10, 2021 at 6:05 am

    this is so cool! i’ve spent quite a bit of time in the Bay Area & done quite a few hikes, but never even knew about this lovely lily valley 💗 will be checking it out never time i’m in NoCal for sure.

  • Adriane

    February 10, 2021 at 11:04 am

    The last time we took our six year old hiking at the beach he took a mouth full of sand and the day was over. 🙂 We’ll have to try it again soon!

  • Staying at Sanctuary Beach Resort | Million Miler Mom

    February 15, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    […] 1 towards Big Sur and visit parks such as Garrapata State Park (home to a gorgeous beach & calla lily valley) as well as Andrew Molera State […]

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