Come rain, shine, rain, dry or there is a global pandemic, the magnificent 55-acre carpet of buttercups known as Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch is a reliable spring that has run from March 1 to Mother’s Day every year for more than a quarter of a century. But this year, the ranch extended its welcome.
Since approximately 14 acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers are still in bloom, the attraction has extended its hours of operation for an additional week. The flower fields are now open until Sunday and ticket prices have been reduced by 50%.
Besides the multicolored Ranunculus flowers, the American Flag of Flowers, the Sweet Pea Maze, the Demonstration Gardens, the Butterfly and Illusion Gardens, the Artist Gardens and Bird Aviary, and the Historical Exhibit poinsettias are always available. There’s also the Children’s Playgrounds and Carlsbad Mining Co. Always in Bloom, the all-new Fields attraction, the Sea of Sunflowers, a five-acre patch of mature sunflowers in multiple varieties, colors, shapes and sizes.
Over the years, the Flower Fields have become one of the most photographed tourist attractions in the region. Longtime general manager Fred Clarke said that at first he was delighted to welcome 75,000 visitors each spring. But with the advent of Instagram and other social media platforms, business has boomed, 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 her shipping orders were canceled within a week or two. With no income from wholesale buyers or visitors, Clarke was forced to mow around half of the 2020 crop. He later sold what was left at a nearby flower stand, with the proceeds going to charity charity.
When the grounds reopened last year, Clarke implemented a new online-only ticketing system that has been so successful that it is becoming a permanent fixture this year. In recent years, visitors have tended to clump together at midday, resulting in crowds in the fields and long lines for wagon rides. With timed-entry ticketing, visitors spread out into the typically slower morning and late afternoon hours, allowing for fewer crowds and more visitors overall.
Tickets are $11 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and older and military, $5 for children 3-10, and free for children under 3. Tickets must be ordered online at theflowerfields.com.