I have wanted to visit Daffodil Hill in Volcano, California for what seems like forever. Well, really it is forever because I’ve lived about 90 minutes away from Daffodil Hill since 1984 and I had never been there — until today.
The problem is that Daffodil Hill is only open for a few weeks each year. They open when 25 percent of the flowers are in bloom and closes when only 25 percent remain — usually mid-March to early April. In the past we have simply forgotten about this flower lover’s paradise until it’s too late and the season is over, or it just doesn’t fit in our schedule because of family stuff, kid activities, or work travel.
But not this year. This year we put a reminder on our calendar to check the Daffodil Hill season and made plans to visit. I was so excited, but a little apprehensive at the same time. There is no website for McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill, just a Facebook page, I didn’t spend much time doing any research, and I didn’t look at photos of the spring blooms either. All we knew was that Daffodil Hill was a hill covered in hundreds of thousands of Daffodils planted on a family farm.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but oh my gosh, all of my expectations were completely blown away. Daffodil Hill is amazing.
Visiting McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill
We pulled into the parking lot across the street from Daffodil Hill at 10:00 am and were greeted by friendly parking attendants that directed us through the lot to our space. I was impressed to see so many people on hand to streamline the parking experience. They even had someone out in the road managing traffic and stopping cars so visitors could cross the street safely.
From the minute we stepped on the McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill property, we were surrounded by flowers. White, yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and peach blooms were everywhere — in planters, in pots, and in baskets. To the left is an old barn and pickup truck full of flowers, and to the right is a shady picnic area.
As we followed the wide path to the base of Daffodil Hill, we passed antique farm equipment, wooden benches, gold rush era mining equipment, old farm buildings, gorgeous peacocks, miniature donkeys, a horse, and chickens.
Soon we were standing at the foot of Daffodil Hill and I think my jaw actually dropped open. This is so much more than a hill covered in Daffodils.
The gently sloping hillside that stretched out in front of us was blanketed in swatches of white and yellow Daffodils. Walking trails weaved over the hill past old buildings, wooden wagon wheels, and pots of beautiful spring blooms in bold reds, pinks, and oranges, which provided a stunning contrast to the white and yellow Daffodils. Benches are spread out throughout the flowers, providing visitors places to relax and enjoy the panoramic view.
At the top of Daffodil Hill there are a few raised bed, wooden planters filled with Daffodils and connected with benches. This is the perfect place to snap some photos of the family surrounded by gorgeous spring blooms — and that’s exactly what the crowds were doing!
The crowds and parking at Daffodil Hill reminded me of the crowds and parking at Apple Hill at the peak of the season. There were people everywhere. Photographers were doing photoshoots, moms were hauling in props for Easter and spring time photos of their children, and selfies were taken at almost every turn.
I took so many photos during our visit, but I am most excited about the few I got of our whole family and one of Brian and I — I usually take so many of the views and Brian and the kids, that I forget to also take photos with ME in them!
We packed a picnic lunch for the day and Daffodil Hill has an awesome picnic area, but because Brian and I weren’t super hungry yet, we decided to eat lunch at our next stop, Black Chasm Cavern. Natalie saw the snack shack had brownies though, so we made a quick detour to get her a chocolate fix before heading out.
About McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill
Sitting at an elevation of 3,000 feet, seven acre Daffodil Hill, when in full bloom, is covered with around 300,000 blooms — Daffodils and Tulips.
During the Gold Rush, Daffodil Hill was a pit-stop for teamsters hauling timber from the Sierras down to the Kennedy and Argonaut Mines, and for those traveling to the Comstock Lode on the Amador-Nevada Wagon Road.
The original owner of the ranch was a Dutchman named Pete Denzer who planted Daffodils around his home to remind him of Holland, his home country. In 1877, Arthur McLaughlin and his wife, “Lizzie” van Vorst-McLaughlin purchased the ranch and continued to plant even more Daffodils. The yellow Daffodils were her favorite and every year she divided and replanted the bulbs to increase the size of their garden.
After their deaths, the McLaughlin children continued to plant Daffodils in memory of their mother. At first it was just a few at a time, then it was hundreds, and over time as the number of visitors grew, it became thousands.
Today the McLaughlin’s descendants, the Ryan brothers and their families, continue to personally plant an average of 16,000 new bulbs each year. McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill at the McLaughlin Ranch is a historic treasure of Amador County that is celebrating its 140th anniversary this spring.
Know Before You Go
- McLaughlin’s Daffodil Hill is located at 18310 Rams Horn Grade Road, Volcano, California 95689 in Amador County.
- Daffodil Hill is only open to the public for a few weeks in the spring, usually from the middle of March through the first part of April. Daffodil Hill opens when 25 percent of the flowers are in bloom and closes when only 25 percent remain.
- During the spring bloom, Daffodil Hill is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, weather permitting. Check the Daffodil Hill Facebook Page for current hours and updates or call the daily recorded phone message at 209-296-7048 to see if Daffodil Hill is open.
- Daffodil Hill admission and parking are free, however, donation buckets are spread throughout the area. Donations help fund the planting of new bulbs each year.
- Traffic and parking can get more than a bit crazy! At times, the road gets so backed up that it could take you more than 30 minutes just to get into the parking lot! Arrive early and be in the parking lot before 10:00 am to avoid any lines, get a great parking spot, and enjoy the stunning flowers before the crowds arrive.
- No pets are allowed on grounds of Daffodil Hill.
- Stay on the paths at all times and do not enter the planting areas or pick the blooms.
- Pack a lunch! There is a shady picnic area available to use, or if you forget to pack a picnic, there is a snack shack across the street that sells burgers, hot dogs, nachos, chips, candy, cookies, brownies, and pie.