Best time to travel to California

Calla Lily Valley & Garrapata Beach in California

One of the most picturesque coastal areas in Big Sur

Best time: late January–late April (best in mid-February–early April)

Calla Lily Valley & Garrapata Beach
Calla Lily Valley & Garrapata Beach

A wild calla lily beach oasis rich with succulents and stunning wildflowers is tucked near the Carmel-by-the-Sea, at Garrapata State Park, Big Sur. The area is just fabulous during the calla lilies blooming season that spans late winter and early spring. Uncover the beauty of local nature walking along the Calla Lily Valley Trail and finish the hike with a picnic at the delightful Garrapata Beach.

When do calla lilies bloom?

Calla lily valley season may start as early as the end of January. The blooming swells by mid-February and continues through mid-April and sometimes all way through the month. Note that some areas could be dangerous to navigate due to the poison oak which invades the valley after spring rains. Therefore, it is recommended to wear long pants and closed-toed shoes to avoid contact with the plants. Also, if you can't make it during calla lily season, visit any other time, as the valley is stunning year-round.

How do you get to Calla Lily Valley?

The beautiful Calla Lily Valley is located near Carmel-by-the-Sea, some 20 minutes from Monterey on Highway 1. Park your car at Gate 18 or 19 in Garrapata State Park and find Garrapata trailhead by mile marker 63. Walk for 5 minutes until you reach the set of stairs descending to Doud Creek that cradles Calla Lily Valley, the epicenter of the scenic bloom. The whole hike takes about half a mile (about 800 m) roundtrip.

Garrapata Beach

Take your time to enjoy the flowers and consider hiking further down to Garrapata State Beach, which is a perfect spot to relax after walking and have a picnic with your loved ones. However, wading around might be a bit treacherous due to slippery rocks. Similarly, swimming could be tempting, yet not that safe either, because of rough waves and rip tides.

What to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea?

While visiting Carmel-by-the-Sea, don't limit your agenda to the Garrapata Trail only. Check out what other treasured experiences you could live through here. On the condition that you plan your trip by mid-March, there's a chance to catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing monarch butterfly migration. For extreme lovers, the area has a number of surfing spots with the prime season lasting through March too. Lastly, there's so much more to see along the rugged Big Sur coast, and the best way to do so is on a road trip.

Where to stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea area?

If you study the map below, you'll see a range of accommodation options close to the Calla Lily Valley. Many hotels are scattered along Hwy 1. If you move north of the Garrapata Trail, stop somewhere in Carmel Highlands or search for better offers beyond. If you move south, you'll find great alternatives around Notley's Landing. Anyway, take your time to find what works best for you.

Practical info

When do calla lilies bloom?

From late January to mid-April, the calla lily valley blooms, although the season varies. The valley continues to be breathtaking all year long. Due to the presence of toxic oak, it is recommended that people wear long pants and closed-toed shoes while navigating through the valley. Show more

How do you get to Calla Lily Valley?

To reach the Calla Lily Valley, park near Carmel-by-the-Sea near Monterey on Highway 1 at Gate 18 or 19 in Garrapata State Park. Follow the Garrapata trailhead (by mile marker 63) for about five minutes. Descend the set of stairs that run down Doud Creek, which cradles the Calla Lily Valley. The entire hike is 800 meters (half a mile) round trip. Show more

What to do in Carmel-by-the-Sea?

Visit Monarch Butterfly to witness the fantastic migration that starts in March and ends in February. If you're seeking excitement, there are many surfing spots in the region, with the season extending through March. Besides, the rugged Big Sur coast has a lot to offer and is best explored via a road trip. Show more

What are some safety tips for hiking at Calla Lily Valley?

To avoid encountering poisonous oak, it is recommended that you wear closed-toed shoes and long pants when you go for a hike in the Calla Lily Valley. Be careful when traveling over bumpy terrain and slippery rocks, especially if you head down to Garrapata State Beach. It is also important to wear sunscreen, carry sunglasses and have sufficient water to prevent dehydration. Show more

What other types of wildflowers can be found in Calla Lily Valley?

Calla lilies may be the centerpiece of Calla Lily Valley's beauty, but you may also see other lovely wildflowers such as California poppies, lupines, and wild onion. Take pleasure in the area's feisty charm. Show more

Is Garrapata Beach dog-friendly?

Sadly, dogs are not welcome on Garrapata State Beach due to environmental conservation concerns. However, there are dog-friendly spots nearby, including Carmel Beach and Fort Ord Dunes State Park. Show more

Are there any guided tours available in Calla Lily Valley?

While there is no official guided tour for Calla Lily Valley, various private tour firms provide Big Sur hiking trips that often include the Calla Lily Valley as one of the destinations. If you prefer, with the help of trail charts and educational signs along the way, you can explore the area on your own. Show more

What is the weather like in Calla Lily Valley during the blooming season?

Since the weather in Calla Lily Valley and its environs can be unpredictable, visitors should be prepared for sudden changes in climate, unexpected wind, and rain during the blooming season, which normally lasts from late January to mid-April. Although daytime temperatures usually range between the mid-50s and mid-60s Fahrenheit, dressing in layers will help you stay comfortable all day. Show more

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