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.
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.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hi everyone! Paul and I have been away from Arizona for almost all of the spring and summer seasons, so we apologize that we haven’t posted in awhile…
However, last weekend, we both were back in the Grand Canyon State to lead the “Wild About Wildflowers in the High Country” Arizona Highways Photography Workshop in the Flagstaff area. Generally, everything looks really green because of the recent monsoon rains, but the wildflowers we normally see at this time have yet to burst onto the scene. Mother Nature seems to be running about one to two weeks late…and that’s if the grasses haven’t choked the flowers out.
Awesome wildflower photo ops still exist out there though! Here’s what we found:
In Bloom Now:
- Arizona Snowbowl, at the top near the ski lifts. Predominantly lupine, larkspur, and Indian paintbrush. Some sneezeweed, but past peak.
- The Arboretum at Flagstaff (location #6 in our “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” book). Excellent bloom of columbine – yellow and Rocky Mountain. Penstamon generally past peak, but lots of other flowers in bloom.
- Lower Lake Mary, north of the dam. Gorgeous fields of calliopsis. Forest covering a good collection of butter and eggs (toadflax).
- Mormon Lake (location #12), at the far southern end. Entire south side is covered in calliopsis. The overlooks have a few sunflowers growing out of disturbed soil along the roadway and a handful of small Indian paintbrush.
- Hart Prairie (location #4). Near the Nature Conservancy turnoff, wild rose and a smattering of sneezeweed.
Not Happening (Yet??? Would keep an eye on in next two weeks):
- Bonito Park (location #7)
- Ashurst Lake (location #13)
Have you been photographing wildflowers in Arizona? If so, let us know what you’ve seen out there in the Comments section below!
P.S. If you’re on Facebook, be sure to “friend” Arizona Highways Photography Workshops at www.facebook.com/azhighwaysphotoworkshops and submit your best wildflower photo for their September Facebook cover contest! The winner will not only be showcased for the month of September on their Facebook page, but you’ll also receive a FREE copy of our book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers!”
Colleen & Paul