While cooler climates show off their colors in fall, here in Arizona, springtime is the season to celebrate the vibrant shades of Arizona around Lake Pleasant the West Valley. Like a showstopping fireworks show fallen to earth, the bright oranges, soft yellows and tranquil blues of desert wildflowers burst into bloom February to April here in the Grand Canyon State.
Golden poppies, lupines, desert marigolds and brittlebush are among the most vibrant blossoms to grace the lower desert. Rather than picking or stepping on Arizona wildflowers, it’s important to be respectful, stay on established trails and preserve the beauty for others to also enjoy.
Here are eight great locations to maximize your flower viewing pleasure.
1. Lake Pleasant Regional Park—Pipeline Trailhead about 14 minutes north of Scorpion Bay
Lake Pleasant Regional Park is one of the best spots in the valley to see wildflowers. Fiery bright poppies and globemallow are the stars of the show here. The Pipeline Trail is considered to be the best flower hike, but the Indian Mesa and Agua Fria Trails are also good choices.
Check out for maps and information: https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/arizona/lake-pleasant-regional-park/wild-flowers
2. Thunderbird Conservation Park—About a half hour drive from Scorpion Bay
Glendale’s Thunderbird Conservation Park is an 18-hundred-acre park dedicated to preserving that natural environment. And what could be more natural than wildflowers? Mexican gold poppies are prevalent on the Flatlander Trail just off the parking lot at 59th Avenue and Pinnacle Peak. Lots of bright yellows bloom along the many trails. You will also be greeted by cactus blossoms right through to May.
Thunderbird Conservation Park, 22800 N 59th Ave, Glendale, AZ 85310
3. Spur Cross Ranch Conservation Area—50 minutes east of Scorpion Bay
The Spur Cross Conservation Area located at 44000 N. Spur Cross Road in Cave Creek boasts some 400 varieties of wildflowers. The western end of the Spur Cross Trail is a favorite. Desert marigolds, white desert tobacco, wispy red fairy dusters and sacred datura all bloom here.
Learn more about Spur Cross at: https://www.maricopacountyparks.net/park-locator/spur-cross-ranch-conservation-area/
4. Estrella Mountain Regional Park—About an hour south of Scorpion Bay
Estrella Mountain Regional Park is another great choice. This was the first regional park in the Maricopa County Park System, and it remains one of the crown jewels. And what a colorful jewel it is! With more than 19,000 acres to explore, you will find an incredible variety of wildflowers with a definite leaning to, you guessed it, warm colors. Brittlebush, Mexican gold poppies, globemallows, rock daisies and fiddlenecks all thrive here and heat up the landscape with fiery oranges and yellows. The Rainbow Valley Trail is one of the best for viewing.
Estrella Mountain Regional Park, 14805 W. Vineyard Ave. Goodyear, AZ 85338
Cost: $7.00 Vehicle Entry Fee
5. White Tank Mountain Regional Park—About an hour and a half southwest of Scorpion Bay
Located on the far western edge of the Valley, White Tank Mountain Regional Park offers a spectacular view of wildflowers and the entire metro area. Desert flora finds no shortage of space to take root here. It is the largest park in the Maricopa County Park System, with 30,000 acres of land. But don’t let all that space intimidate you, the White Tank Waterfall trail is a favorite. It is accessible to all skill levels, and gilia, asters, desert chicory, popcorn flowers, blue fiesta flowers and dainty desert hideseed have all been spotted here.
White Tank Mountain Regional Park, 20304 W. White Tank Mountain Road Waddell, AZ 85355
Cost: $7 Vehicle Entry Fee
6. Superstition Mountains/Lost Dutchman State Park—About an hour and a half southeast of Scorpion Bay
There is no shortage of desert wildflowers in the park at the eastern edge of the Valley. And to make it easy they post an updated report on their Facebook page. Flowers to watch for include Jojoba, spurge or sandmat, euphorbia prostrata, popcorn flower, wooly desert marigold, brittlebush, trixis, desert hyacinth/blue dicks, fairyduster, filaree/stork bill and Mormon tea.
Lost Dutchman State Park, 6109 N Apache Trail, Apache Junction, AZ 85119
Cost: $7 Per Vehicle (1-4 Adults),
$10 Per Vehicle Friday-Sunday and Holidays (Oct. - May),
$3 per Individual/Bicycle
7. Picacho Peak—About 2 hours south of Scorpion Bay
Jutting out of the Sonoran Desert some 1,500 feet, you can’t help but see Picacho Peak for miles as you drive along Interstate 10 between Phoenix and Tucson. Travelers have used the peak for centuries as a landmark and is even more so when its slopes burst into bloom every spring. Poppies, brittlebush and lupine are among most prolific bloomers delivering a sea of yellows, oranges, purples and reds. Make sure to check out the state’s wildflower page for updates.
Picacho Peak State Park, 15520 Picacho Peak Rd, Picacho, AZ 85141
Cost: $7 Vehicle Entry Fee,
$3 per Individual/Bicycle
8. Mogollon Rim—About a 2 hour drive to Payson though Fountain Hills
For a color palette featuring even more cool blues and eye-popping reds take a drive to rim country along route 87. From the area around Bartlett Lake to Payson and beyond blooming season can be a little later, but April is always a good bet. Some of the most colorful flowers in this area midnight blue Lupine, frilly red and pink Fairy Duster, purple Thistle, yellow Dalmation toadflax, Golden Alexander and many more. You can check out Brian Devonshire’s Blog for lots of photos and maps.
Mogollon Rim Drive, Fountain Hills to Payson on State Route 87
Scorpion Bay is Arizona’s premier floating playground, offering everything from daily pontoon and ski boat rentals to slips for harboring your yacht (or dinghy). Come for the fishing or come for the frolicking—either way, incredible mountain views, fantastic dining and world-class marina services await less than an hour out of Phoenix. https://www.scorpionbayaz.com/