Silly Mountain Sunset

The brittlebush bloom at sunset at Silly Mountain, Arizona last Saturday

As expected, last week’s rain followed by a fairly intense warm-up in Arizona’s low desert has made the wildflower bloom progress nicely. I took a spin around to some of my favorite locations this time of year to scout for our upcoming “Wild for Wildflowers: Sonoran Desert” Arizona Highways Photography Workshop and was not disappointed! Here’s what I saw out there:

Flora-tude

A Mexican gold poppy demonstrating attitude – or “Flora-tude” at Lake Pleasant on Sunday

GO NOW – LOCATIONS AT PEAK:

  • Lake Pleasant: (location #21 in our “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers” book) This location is AT PEAK or just slightly beyond when it comes to annuals.  The entire hillside along the south end of the Pipeline Canyon Trail has burst into yellow with Mexican gold poppies and California poppies.  I even saw a handful of albino poppies on the west side of the trail – something I’ve never seen outside of Bartlett Lake!  There is a nice mix of other flowers, including lupine, blue dicks, scorpionweed, and fiddleneck.  A very nice stand of bright orange globemallow begs for some nice photographs just south of the Pipeline Bridge.  Though the poppies will only last another 7-10 days, the perennials like brittlebush are just starting to bud and show, so watch this location for the perennial bloom over the next two weeks.
  • Silly Mountain:  (location#32) The ridiculously silly brittlebush bloom on this hillside along the highway has started almost a week or two early and will peak likely this week.

KEEP AN EYE ON IN NEXT 7-10 DAYS:

Albino Mexican Gold Poppy

Albino Mexican Gold Poppy at Bartlett Lake on Sunday

  • Bartlett Lake:  (location #26)  The hillsides around the saddle area are looking spectacular right now – poppies, lupine, chuparosa, fiddleneck, cream cups, and chia.  Though the areas north of the saddle along Service Road 459 are definitely showing a solid wildflower bloom – including the white albino and pink poppies! – a stroll through the desert revealed many, many buds still waiting to bloom.  The shooting is great here right now, but I think this area will likely see peak in the next 7-10 days.  Lots of potential still!
  • Silver King Mine Road: (location #38):  Patches of poppies are evident along the east-facing mountain sides as you drive this recently graded dirt road.  A short hike up the hillside will get you to a relatively young patch of poppies.  A scattering of London rocket, fiddleneck, and lupine are also filling in.  The verdict is still out as to whether we’ll see a spectacular bloom here, but there’s enough going on to warrant putting it on the watch list.
  • Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park: (location #37)  Though not prolific yet, thus far, the Arboretum is showing perhaps the most diverse mix of desert blooms – poppies, globemallow, blue dicks, desert marigold, desert filaree, penstemon, popcorn flower, wild cucumber, and Mormon tea – along the Main Trail.  Though good for ample photographic opportunities now, I think this spot will continue to get even better in the weeks ahead.

FORGET IT – SAVE YOUR GAS & TIME:

  • Saddle Mountain:  (location #20)  Unless you’d like to see what the desert looks like in spring when it doesn’t get enough rain, skip this location this year.  There are a few scattered, tiny poppies, some scorpionweed and fiddlneck, three bladderpod mustard blooms, and a ton of small popcorn flower, which my husband suggested looked more like the bottom of the popcorn bag.  Better luck next year…

Have you been out photographing the wildflowers in Arizona?  Tell us what you’ve seen in your outings!  We’d love to hear from you!

~Colleen

Lupine and cream cups at Bartlett Lake

Lupine and cream cups at Bartlett Lake on Sunday

7 Responses to “Arizona Wildflower Field Report: March 18, 2013”

  1. I found some great wildflower patches at Imperial National Wildlife Refuge yesterday, along the old Red Cloud Mine Road

  2. A trip up the Beeline today was well worth it! I’ve been poppy-hunting for 20 years, and I think this year is among the best. Spectacular splashes of poppies along 87 from Milepost 195 to the Saguaro Lake turn-off. Impressive displays along Hunt Hwy. to the Blue Point Bridge. Brittlebush, lupine, chuparosa, globemallow and purple ground cherry, among others, were also plentiful.

  3. Hi Colleen!

    This will be my first time out this year and I’m thinking of heading out to the Bartlett Lake area per your report above. We’ll be heading out next Saturday, March 30. Do you feel there will still be great photo opps, to shoot some portraits amongst the desert landscape, with a variety of color? Would ideally want to shoot during golden hour, toward the west to get some nice backlit glowing shots of the couple.

    Thanks!

  4. Would LOVE to find big open spaces of globemallow, with a view to the west for sunset. Any ideas on location for this?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Rachel, it’s still a bit on the early side for the perennial bloom (aka globemallow). Your best bets at this time of year to see them will be at either Bartlett Lake or Lake Pleasant. Both locations, however, have obstructed views to the west due to hillsides so if you’re looking for a wide open view in that direction, you might try the McDowell Sonoran Preserve instead (though I don’t think they’re seeing globemallow bloom there…). Good luck and have fun! Colleen

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