PAUL GILL: The Estrella Mountain Park is starting to show carpets of poppies high on the northern slopes of the Rainbow Valley Trail. Start at the Rodeo Arena Parking lot and hike west. The best wildflowers are located about a half to a mile in, with lupine and fiddleneck already at one foot tall! This area should be great in one to two weeks with the recent rains that will double the bloom stalks and give solid midday carpets of poppies. Also look for a brittlebush and strawberry hedgehog to begin blooming in three to four weeks.  All photographs on this post are from this week.
BRUCE TALBERT: The White Tank Mountain Regional Park (location #21 in the Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers guidebook) looked OK.  There were enough poppies blooming to keep your attention but little else.  There were a few lupines but sparse and small.  The best areas were the first 1/2 mile of Mesquite Trail west of Area 7, the west side of White Tank Mountain Road near Area 3, and the trails that lead west of Area 3.  The brittlebush showed small flower buds and looked healthy, but were not yet flowering.  They will likely present a better show here than the poppies.

Color is showing well now on the lower Verde River from Needle Rock to the Salt River. Box Bar Area is Peak now.

Verde River sunset

Need a Tonto Pass.

We’re excited to announce our first Book Signing Event with one of our valued book sponsors, Tempe Camera, on December 10th from 9 am to 5 pm.

Stop by to pick up your copy of our newly released book, “Wild in Arizona: Photographing Arizona’s Wildflowers, A Guide to When, Where, and How.”

Co-authors Colleen Miniuk-Sperry and Paul Gill will be on hand to sign books, share behind the scenes stories about the photos in the book, and chat about the 2012 spring bloom forecast.

In addition to the book signing, Colleen will be presenting two educational 30 minute sessions (times TBD) about “When, Where, and How to Photograph Arizona’s Wildflowers.”

And thanks to our book sponsors, we’ll also be raffling off great prizes from Wimberley, Think Tank Photo, Hoodman, and more throughout the day!

So come on down to Tempe Camera on December 10th to have some photo fun and gear up for the holidays and next year’s wildflower season! Friends, family, and photo enthusiasts all welcome at this FREE event.

Colleen and Paul look forward to seeing you there!

Yep, it's real!

Though we’ve had plenty of time to think about it – 18 months to be precise – we didn’t know how we’d react to seeing our first book in our hands.

Just seconds after the moving truck came to a halt in front of my house and the driver revealed the contents of his cargo, Paul grabbed a heavy, back-breaking cardboard box of 54 books off the truck, ran up the short driveway, sliced open the box as fast as he could with a key, and pulled out a single copy.  To smell it.  Nothing like fresh ink on glossy pages to prove an existence.

We didn't expect a moving truck to deliver our books! But 3200 pounds of books arrived on two very large pallets...

As I grabbed the now three-dimensional version of our book out of the same box, my hand covered my mouth as tears welled up in my eyes.  I whispered, “Oh my, look at what have we done.”

Then, celebratory hugs were in order, “We did it.  We really did it!!  It’s here!  Whoohoo!”

Jubilation turned instantaneously to panic for us two Type-A personalities, though:  quick, thumb through it.  Did any of the page numbers get cut off ?  (No, of course not, that’s just silly!)  How do the photos look?  (Wow, they look like photos printed on photo paper!  Two thumbs up to our printer!  Awesome!)  And holy crap, are all those boxes really going to fit in my garage?!  (Yes, so long as we re-stack them on the pallets…and let’s just hope lots of our friends have lots of friends!!)

Temporary insanity aside, both Paul and I now feel an overwhelming sense of gratefulness.  I’ll spare you an Academy Awards-like “thank you” speech, but we have an incredibly long laundry list of people to thank for helping us and encouraging us in seeing this book – our dream – come to fruition…we hope to be able to thank you each of you in person soon.

Shipping our pre-orders today. Thank you!

For those of you who pre-ordered the book:  THANK YOU!  We’ve signed and shipped your order to you late this afternoon, so be on the watch for it this week (U.S. based) or next week or so (international).  For those who haven’t ordered a copy yet or are considering gifts for the upcoming holidays, we have plenty of copies hot-off-the-press waiting to send to you (and all your friends! HA!)!

Whenever you get a chance to take a peek at it, we’d love to hear what you think so drop us a note either here, on Facebook, G+, or via email.

The truck didn't have a lift gate, so we had to unload all the books from the street to my garage.

Happy reading and happy shooting!  And most of all, thank you.


W. Clear Creek fall cascade

The Verde Valley is showing fall color now.

WEST CLEAR CREEK at Bull Pen is at peak now and should be good for the next week. FR618 to FR 215, high clearance is a good idea.

Beaver Creek

WET BEAVER CREEK on the Bell Trail is still a week away from good color but the lower picnic area across from the campground is showing some color. Paved 179 east off of I17

Montezuma Well sycamore

MONTEZUMA WELL & CASTLE are near peak and should be good for at least 1 more week.

Montezuma Castle

DEAD HORSE STATE PARK is not looking good lots of brown on the ground with green cottonwood/sycamore, only about 1/3 color last week could get better?


Dead Horse S.P. lake


Paul is too modest to toot his own horn, but I’m sure happy to!

I just opened the December 2011 issue of the Arizona Highways magazine, and saw that one of Paul’s photographs has been included in the “50 Greatest Photographs” to have appeared in the magazine.  You might recognize this exquisite shot, as it was first published this past March as the opening two-page spread for the Wildflower portfolio.

One things for sure, Paul knows how to photograph wildflowers!

Congratulations, Paul!

Dew drops cling to a Mexican Golden Poppy and refract a nearby saguaro in the droplets. Sonoran Desert west of Bartlett Lake, Arizona. Paul Gill Photography


There are few places in Arizona where aspen and maples grow together, the Pinal Mountains just southwest of Globe is one of them. Probably the closest aspens to Phoenix, it’s the long winding dirt FR 651 that makes it seem farther. There are two great locations on top of the mountain, the photographs here were taken on Nov. 2nd unfortunately a large wind/snow storm hit the area on Friday night and I can’t promise any of this is left. ICEHOUSE TRAIL  A steep drop into aspen and maples that run for about a mile is the first trail, this area has the best aspen and parking is just south of the trailhead. SIXSHOOTER TRAIL drive towards the peak and turn left at the Ferndale split then drop down to the trailhead parking area. This is a great location with 4 trailheads all are great for aspen, maple, walnut, oak and other ground color.

Arizona Autumn 2011
By Paul Gill

Horton Canyon autumn cascade

At peak fall color now along the top of the rim and lower canyons including Horton, Christopher and See Canyons. Horton cost $6 to get into the others are free, you can park and shoot at upper Christopher Creek turn north on NF 284 passenger car dirt road to the parking area, See Canyon trailhead starts there.Secret Canyon poison Ivy

Also Secret Canyon off of Dry Creek Road (high clearance) west of Sedona has started to peak. The trail is about 3 easy miles to the canyon mouth where the color starts and gets better the farther you get into the canyon. Have a great shoot.

See Canyon Cascade









Full gallery at   OR










The east side of Mingus Mountain is now at peak for maples. This vertical country has a few ways in and none are easy, hike down 2000 feet on the Viewpoint Trail from the top and then back up or take FR 413 south from FR 104.  From Jerome drive south up Mingus Mountain to the top and turn east on FR 104 than right on FR 413. Near the top of this road starts out easy then turns into a narrow, rocky 4×4 trail into the center of fall color. Very few places to turn around. Morning has best early light and open shade around 4 pm.



Bear Canyon Trail:  Bear Canyon serves as one of the peak’s best maple tree locations. Turn east on the dirt road and park at the fork in the road then hike down and take the trail west under Catalina Highway for best color. Open shade first/last light or cloud cover on windless days is best.

Marshall Gulch Trail: Less maples than Bear Canyon and a little messier but worth the short hike. Trail starts behind bathrooms and follows the creek or with a long lens from the upper trail. Best photographed in evening open shade. The aspens on top are just past peak and the ski area is closed to hikers.


One of Arizona’s best places to photograph fall starting at the lower elevations with cottonwood/sycamore (peaks in early Nov.) and climbing into orange oaks (peaks in late Oct.) then at 7000′ multicolored maples (peaking now) at Twilight Campgrounds and on gooseneck switchbacks all the way to the saddle. On top, aspens abound with great views, Cunningham Campground is best bet now, not much color at Riggs Lake.










For a full portfolio of images from this weeks scout trip go to

To get up-to-date scouting reports from us, sign up to receive our blog via email so you can keep an eye on the color across Arizona. Thanks Paul

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