Come rain, shine, drought or global pandemic, the stunning 55-acre carpet of ranunculus blossoms known as the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch has been a reliable spring happening from March 1 through Mother’s Day every year for more than a quarter-century. But this year, the ranch has extended its welcome.
Because roughly 14 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers are still in bloom, the attraction has extended its public hours by an additional week. The Flower Fields are now open through Sunday and ticket prices have been cut by 50 percent.
Besides the multicolored Ranunculus blossoms, still available for touring are the American flag of flowers, the sweet pea maze, demonstration gardens, butterfly and illusion gardens, artist gardens and bird aviaries and historical poinsettia display. There’s also the children’s play areas and Carlsbad Mining Co. Also still in bloom is the fields’ newest attraction, the Sea of Sunflowers, a walk-through five-acre patch of full-grown sunflowers of multiple varieties, colors, shapes and sizes.
Over the years, the Flower Fields has become one of the region’s most-photographed tourist attractions. Longtime general manager Fred Clarke said that in the early years he was thrilled to welcome 75,000 visitors each spring. But with the advent of Instagram and other social media platforms, business exploded, and now up to 300,000 people visit each spring.
In 2020, the Flower Fields attraction was two weeks into its visitor season when the pandemic hit. Most of the crop is pre-sold to flower wholesalers each year, but Clarke said all of his shipment orders were canceled within a week or two. With no income from wholesale buyers or visitors, Clarke was forced to mow down about half of the 2020 crop. Later, he sold what was left at a nearby flower stand with proceeds going to charity.
When the fields reopened for business last year, Clarke instituted a new online-only ticketing system that was so successful that it becomes a permanent fixture this year. In past years, visitors tended to clump up at midday, which made for crowding in the fields and long lines for wagon rides. Through timed-entry ticketing, visitors expanded into the usually slower morning and late afternoon hours, allowing for less crowding and more visitors overall.
Tickets are $11 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and over and military, $5 for children ages 3 to 10 and free for children under 3. Tickets must be ordered online at theflowerfields.com.