Lost Dutchman_01_c

Lost Dutchman looking green for this time of year. Of the limited number that did sprout flowers this year, brittle bush and other perennial shrubs have already passed their peak bloom.

Well, the year of the poppy, it ain’t.  Following ample rain in November and average precipitation in December, the Phoenix area went almost 70 days without a drop of rain during a critical time for the spring wildflower bloom in the desert.  On top of the lack of rain, the low deserts have experienced significantly higher temperatures than normal.  So 2014 isn’t going to go into the record books for our spring bloom.

With the chance of a wide-spread display diminishing each day as fast as our much needed rains did this year, shutterbugs with a careful eye can pick out single blooms to practice their macro techniques out there!  Here’s what we’ve been seeing out there…


Healthy globe mallow from the parking lot of the Boyce Thompson Arboretum.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum:  Ample globemallow and desert marigolds in the parking area.  Ice plants along entry walkway showing off pinks and purples while the aloe have sprouted their orange flowers.  The Demonstration Garden has some penstemon, blanket flower, and cactii in bloom, but it’s a smaller scale bloom than what we’re used to at this time of year.

Lost Dutchman:   Ocotillo and hedgehog cactus in bloom near the Saguaro Day Use area.  Brittlebush burned out.  (The ranger suggested some small flowers existed along the Jacob’s Crosscut Trail but I was leading a private workshop and wasn’t able to scout.)

San Tan Regional Mountain:  Ocotillo and a variety of cactus currently in bloom across the park.  Brittle bush past peak.

South Mountain: Specifically along the Pima Canyon & Bajada Trails, the brittle bush bloom is done while the ocotillo and hedgehog cacti are blooming now.

Gonzales Pass:  Palo verde trees showing off brilliant yellows in the median among ocotillo, globemallow, desert marigolds, and some brittle bush.

Silly Mountain:  Brittle bush not looking real promising…

Bartlett Lake:  Scattered brittle bush and globemallow hanging on, but looking pretty burned out otherwise.

Sun City area:  Thanks to the recent construction activities, a nice disturbance bloom of poppies and scorpionweed intermingling is currently happening near the intersection of the new 303 Expressway and Grand Avenue.

Let us know if you’ve seen anything great out there!

We’re keeping our fingers crossed that the upcoming monsoon season (will it start early, given the shift in seasons??) will bring additional moisture to the entire state.  In addition, we’re watching the development of a possible El Nino closely.  The last Climate Prediction Center report suggested a 50% chance of an El Nino developing this summer or fall, so the verdict for this summer’s bloom is still out.  Stay tuned!

Happy shooting!

~Colleen & Paul

After the rain a drop on a poppy refracts saguaros and brittle bush in The Lost Dutchman S.P.

Finally some rain after months of being high and dry. The roadside flowers are having a good bloom but the desert is very spotty this year with a few good areas spread out. Organ Pipe Cactus N.P. is about as good as it’s going to get with some brittlebush blooms on the Ajo loop. White Tank Mountain park is showing some color and The Lost Dutchman S.P. has small patches of brittle bush going. So this is a great year to get the macro gear out and get up close. Just wanted to thank everyone for a 4th sold out Arizona Highways wildflower macro workshop, we are scouting the best locations for the great weekend  coming up.

White Tank brittlebush sunrise

Sonoran Desert National Monument poppies

Hard to believe there are small groupings of Mexican Gold poppies blooming in the Sonoran Desert National Monument but you can find some areas with wildflowers. The Arizona desert has been without rain for all of 2014 so far (-1.25″) But because of the Nov.-December rain there is some color out there. Bladderpod blooms are in the lower deserts on the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range with some poppy carpets around Hat Mountain. Getting permission to access the areas is a hassle and you can find info online but I don’t recommend it without 2 4X4 vehicles. Oatman also has some wildflowers showing. See page 64 of our Wild in Arizona Book. South Maricopa Mountain Wilderness is showing Brittlebush blooming in the volcanic hills north of highway 8 and it looks like it will be peak in 1-2 weeks and be short lived. Be safe out there and good shooting.

Saguaro Storm 2014

The Desert is GREEN. The last time we had a above normal rainfall year was 2009/2010 and that was a good year. November 2013 we had 1-3″ and .5-1″ in December. Take a look at exact locations at http://rainlog.org/usprn/html/main/maps.jsp place in the month you want for accurate location readings. Unfortunately the rain has stopped and we will need some sprinkles to keep everything going.The Farmer’s Almanac is calling for average rainfall for the southwest for the next two months: http://www.almanac.com/weather/longrange/region/us/14.
“Average” for us in this drought, though, could mean great things!! I have Poppy sprouts up in my test area and Desert Marigolds blooming along roadsides in the lower desert now. So at this point I am predicting a OK Annuals and GOOD Perennial/Cactus/Tree year. The brittlebush at Gonzales Pass are looking very good for a 2010 like bloom. “Everyone keep doing their rain dance!”

2014 Poppy sprout

January Desert Marigold


Aravaipa East is just past peak for fall color this week with one or two more weeks of “OK” color. Bonita Creek is just at peak color and the Gila Box looks to peak in a week with this cold front. Still some fall along the Gila River below San Carlos Lake. This should be the last few weeks for Arizona autumn except for some Lower Colorado River cottonwoods that last into next year.

Gila Box

Bonita Creek


Madera Canyon

Fall color in Arizona has moved into the sky islands of south east Arizona and the San Pedro River. Unfortunately the color is very sparatic with some areas already past and some areas still green.  One location that is showing some good fall color is Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains. Also The Presidio of Santa Cruz de Terrenate Ruins along the San Pedro River a short 1.5 mile hike then drop down into the river where there is no trail and hike the river.

Sycamore Canyon wilderness

It has been a strange autumn in Arizona this year with locations starting to show color early and then suffering brown outs. The Sycamore Canyon Wilderness is no exception with some trees turning color while the rest are still green, brown, or a grey (when the leaves turn grey-green and just dry up and drop).

Still, the Parsons trail on the southern end of Sycamore Canyon has some color.  Most of the rim country is now past peak and the cottonwoods and sycamore are showing in the deserts.

Sycamore Canyon pool

Mogollon Mesa wildflowers

Spring is still showing carpets of goldfield flowers on the Mogollon Mesa for the next week or so. For directions and best spots see page 134 General Crook Trail in our Wild in Arizona, Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers Book. And yes the carpets are a month late this year.

Kachina Peak Wilderness

High Country aspen are showing lots of color now – Highway 67 to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is just past peak ( don’t forget as of this post the park is closed ). The San Francisco Peaks are showing a eclectic color show with Green, Yellow and some brown-out. but overall great color this week and next in the Inner Basin, Snow Bowl, Harts Prairie and Bear Jaw. White Mountains are about the same with great color over by Greens Peak.

Jaques Marsh

The annual carpets of Goldeneye around Jacques Marsh, Scotts Reservoir, McNary, Springerville and east of Big Lake have peaked along with Paintbrush and Western Yarrow. Be careful photographing on Apache Land you’ll need a permit. There is a nice Arizona Caltrop bloom around the Arizona Black Hills south of Cliffton. Also good wild flowers on top of Mount Graham including verbena in Treasure Park. Note: the normal Dragoon Caltrop was choked out by grass this year. This will probably do it for wildflower reports this year but stay tuned for fall color reports coming soon.

Treasure Park verbena

Farmers Almanac forecast for Arizona Winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest periods in early and mid-December and in late January. Precipitation will be below normal in the east and above normal in the west, with snowfall below normal in most places that normally receive snow. April and May will be warmer and rainier than normal.

Peak Sunflowers

The yellow carpets of calliopsis are moving up from Mormon Lake into Ashurst Lake, but still some great opportunities for elk and prairie sunflowers in the area for the next few weeks.  The prairie sunflower bloom around the San Francisco Peaks has peaked so check on the higher elevations for best blooms. Though I didn’t have time to scout, be on the look out for flowers along the Mogollon Rim and White Mountains as well.

Sunset Crater Sunflower-

© 2011 Wild in Arizona/Analemma Press, L. L. C. Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha