Citing crush of traffic, Ryan family announces decision to shutter their farm to tourists
Daffodil Hill has been a popular spring destination for generations. (Photo courtesy the Ryan family)
Amador County just lost one of its most famous attractions: Daffodil Hill, that mecca of spring blooms, has closed "indefinitely."
Meaning no March and April madness in Volcano next year -- or likely any springs to come.
In a surprise Facebook post, the Ryan family, who own the property, wrote that they had made the difficult decision to permanently shut their farm's gates to tourists seeking to see flowers. The crush of popularity had become too much.
"Over the past 80 years, many thousands have visited Daffodil Hill in beautiful Amador County," they wrote. "While we, the Ryan family, have enjoyed sharing our serene and peaceful Daffodil Hill with the general public, it is with deep sadness that we announce our decision to close the Hill indefinitely. This decision is the most difficult that we, as a family, have ever made."
Originally purchased in 1887, the McLaughlin Ranch attracted thousands of visitors annually during the peak of daffodil bloom. That peak could last three or four weeks, or two or three days, depending on the weather.
That limited availability created a mass rush whenever the Ryans announced Daffodil Hill would be open, a decision they made when at least 25 percent of the flowers were in full bloom. The ranch features more than 300,000 bulbs in the ground, with the family adding 8,000 more each year.
"Sadly, it is this overwhelming popularity that has led us to our decision to close," the post read. "After the crush of visitors that descended upon our Hill this year, we came to realize that the limitation on the size of our parking areas and the inability of the local road infrastructure to handle the volume, created liability and safety concerns for everyone involved."
This past spring may have been the worst.
"Due to the thousands of visitors on our opening weekend in 2019, the local road system to our Hill became so congested that the wait just to get to our parking area sometimes took as long as two hours," the Ryans wrote.
"As a result, many visitors chose to park their vehicles along the narrow roadways and walk through traffic to the Hill, which was a risky endeavor in itself. In addition, these vehicles were parked illegally on the roadway, which, along with the pedestrians, would have impeded any emergency vehicles that needed to access the Hill area to assist our Shake Ridge Road neighbors, or you, our visitors.
"Despite our best efforts, the volume of visitors was just too much for the roadways, the Hill itself, and there is simply not enough space for everyone to park."
Daffodil Hill has always been open free to the public, depending on guest donations to cover costs. The family debated about installing a shuttle or reservation system, but gave up on those alternatives. The roads leading to the foothills property are just too narrow.
"Our entire family, all six generations, sends each and every one of you a heartfelt 'Thank You' for all the kind words of support, your patronage, and appreciation of the Hill over these many years," the Ryans wrote. "As we close this wonderful chapter in our family history, we ask that you honor our ancestors by continuing to appreciate Mother Nature in all her glory whenever and wherever you can. God bless you all."