March is wildflower season in Arizona, a time to enjoy glorious blooms in the desert before the temperatures climb and the flowers fade. The number of flowers vary according to how much precipitation nature has bestowed upon the desert, but be sure to savor the color wherever you discover it. If you don’t find fields filled with wildflowers, enjoy the small clumps found at the base of plants or in unexpected places around town.
We’ve suggested a few favorite spots to see and photograph wildflowers below. Another good resource is the Desert Botanical Garden’s Wildflower Tracking Site, which goes live March 1. The site is a collaborative effort by more than two dozen parks and gardens across central and southern Arizona to get real-time information on which flowers are blooming, and where.
Grab your camera, put on some comfortable outdoor shoes, and bring plenty of water to enjoy this colorful time of the year. Note: Usery Park and Boyce Thompson Arboretum have guided wildflower walks, with dates listed below.
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.
Southeast Corner of McKellips and Ellsworth by Desert Arroyo Park/Zaharis Elementary School
Last spring there were so many flowers at this intersection it nearly stopped traffic. An explosion of California poppies and desert marigolds dominated the area, but scatterings of desert bluebells provided excellent contrast and beckoned photographers.
Across the street is Desert Arroyo Park, by Zaharis Elementary School, which does not boast as many wildflowers, but has a nice wooden bridge to view the Superstition Mountains and the surrounding area.
Located about 12 miles north of Cadence at McKellips and Ellsworthin Mesa.
The Arboretum is a wonderful place to spend the day viewing not only wildflowers, but different types of cactus, plants and trees. In many areas the flowers and plants are labeled so you know what you are looking at. Easy trails, benches for breaks and a cool stream.
**The Arboretum has Wildflower Walks on March 3, 4, 17 and 18 at 1 p.m. In April, the walks take place at 10 a.m. The admission price of $12.50 for adults and $5 for kids 5-12 includes the walks and other special events.
Located about 40 miles from Cadence at 37615 U.S. 60, Superior, AZ.
A bit farther to the east is Peridot Mesa, about 85 miles from Cadence. Wildflower lovers flock to Peridot Mesa in the spring, when poppy fields bloom in late February and last through March.
Since it’s located on the San Carlos Reservation, a $10 tribal day-use permit is required, but it’s easy to pick one up at convenience stores in Globe, at Bashas’ on the reservation or at the San Carlos Recreation & Wildlife Office in Peridot.
The journey to Peridot Mesa is often ablaze with wildflowers along the stretch of U.S. 60 into Globe. You’ll see a mix of poppies, lupines and phacelia along the southern side of the Superstition Mountains. Brittlebush, desert marigolds and globe mallows can be seen as the road climbs through Gonzales Pass.
Location: To get there, take U.S. 60 east to Globe, then continue east on U.S. 70 to the reservation. Just past mile marker 268, turn left on a dirt road marked by a cattle guard framed by two white H-shaped poles. Drive a half-mile and you should start seeing flowers along the road and sweeping down hillsides.
This is a close, easy option for finding wildflowers near town and there’s actually a trail called Brittlebush. Take the dog, the kids and enjoy the views and the flowers.
It’s not too far out of the city of Apache Junction, about 20 minutes northeast of Cadence.
Head north from Cadence to Bartlett Lake to find Mexican Poppies, cacti and other succulents in this scenic landscape. Some years the whole hillside is ablaze with color. The area offers fantastic picnic spots, a marina, and beautiful hiking trails.
Located 70 miles from Cadence. The marina is at 20808 E Bartlett Dam Rd., Carefree, in the Tonto National Forest.
A trip to Lost Dutchman should be an annual spring event whether or not there’s been a lot of precipitation. You’ll see poppies, chuparosa, globe mallows and brittlebush. It’s a delight to see the delicate wildflowers at the base of the magnificent Superstition Mountains. The midsection of the park is banded by a clustered mass of brittlebush. For ambitious hikers, head up Siphon Draw Trail, then loop back on Jacob’s Crosscut.
Located about 30 minutes from Cadence at 6109 N Apache Trail in Apache Junction.
Last but certainly not least, this sounds like a fun event at Usery Park: A Wild for Wildflowers stroll on March 7 from 2 -3 p.m. along the Merkle Trail in search of flowers! You’ll learn about wildflowers from the guide and spend a pleasant hour amidst spring beauty. Location: Area 6
Location: 3939 N Usery Pass Rd., about 25 minutes from Cadence at the western end of the Goldfield Mountains.
Remember, March is the best time for wildflowers. Once temperatures are consistently in the 90-degree range, the blooms start to fade, and you will have to head farther north.
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