Are you ready? The glorious wildflower season in the metro Phoenix area usually begins in early March, before the temperature climbs and the flowers wilt from the heat in the Sonoran Desert.
Lake Pleasant Regional Park Rangers Terry Gerber and Cody Contner, however, report that already they have seen the opening of the first wildflowers, starting out the season a bit early with a flash of desert color.
According to the rangers, “This is a good sign that we are expecting to see a great display of wildflowers in the park this year. As long as the temperatures do not go too high and stay that way too long in February and March, we should have a beautiful presentation of wildflowers this year, as the rains came at a good time in December.”
In past years, the heaviest concentration of poppies has been on Pipeline Canyon Trail, from the southern trailhead to the floating bridge a half-mile away. Blooms also populate the Beardsley, Wild Burro and Cottonwood trails.
Stop by the Discovery Center at Lake Pleasant to pick up a trail map and learn about the many miles of trails at the park. Rangers Terry and Cody offer many guided hikes, as well, along with volunteer naturalist Frank.
Wildflower talks and guided hikes
Wildflowers of the Park, Friday, March 6, 2-3 p.m.
Come see which wildflowers might spring up at Lake Pleasant! This one-hour program will be in the Discover Center classroom. website
In Search of Wildflowers Hike, March 13, 9-11:30 a.m.
Join the Lake Pleasant rangers on a hike along the Pipeline Canyon Trail in search of colorful flowers. This moderately difficult hike is about 4 miles and takes about 2.5 hours. Bring plenty of water and meet at the South Pipeline Canyon Trailhead. website
Looking for Wildflowers on the Cottonwood Trail, March 15, 9-11:30 p.m.
There always is a good likelihood of seeing wildlife while exploring the scenic Cottonwood Trail. This moderate hike is about 2.5 miles and takes about 2 hours. Bring plenty of water and meet at the Cottonwood trail via the north entrance. website
Types of wildflowers
Mexican gold poppy: Known for its showy gold blooms, the Mexican poppy is found below elevations of 4,500 feet.
Desert lupine: Violet-blue blooms often seen growing amid Mexican poppy. They are found below 3,000 feet.
Brittlebush: This shrub’s yellow blooms add to spring color.
Desert marigold: Yellow flowers found below 5,000 feet, often along roadsides and slopes.
Firecracker penstemon: Red flowers found throughout the West at elevations from 3,000 to 11,000 feet.
If you want to expand your search for wildflowers, we recommend these areas, as well:
White Tank Mountain Regional Park: 40 miles southwest of Lake Pleasant, 20304 W White Tank Mountain Road, Waddell, AZ
At nearly 30,000 acres, White Tank is the largest of the Maricopa County parks. About 40 miles of hiking trails traverse the foothills and mountain canyons.
Phoenix Sonoran Preserve: 20 miles southeast of Lake Pleasant, 18333 N. Thompson Peak Pkwy., Scottsdale
Find yellow brittlebush, red-orange globemallow, marigold and more along Apache Wash Trailhead.
Cave Creek Regional Park: 25 miles southeast of Lake Pleasant, 37019 N. Lava Lane, Cave Creek
Scenic, 2,922-acre desert destination offering winding multi-use trails, campgrounds and picnic spots.
Much farther south
Picacho Peak: 137 miles southeast of Lake Pleasant, exit 219 off Interstate 10, Picacho, AZ
Arguably one of the best spots to see blooming wildflowers in Arizona, with incredible golden blooms around the base and lower elevations of the 1,500-foot peak.
Get out and enjoy the colors of the season!
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