2014 Desert Wildflower Outlook

Ron Niebrugge Arizona, Photos, Travel 3 Comments

An older photo of wildflowers in Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, Arizona.

An older photo of wildflowers in Saguaro National Park, near Tucson, Arizona.

I have made the trip from Alaska to Anza-Borrego and are now situated comfortably. Part of that trip involved driving from Phoenix to Anza-Borrego in Southern California, a drive that gave me a bit of an over-view of what’s to come.  Here are my thoughts.

I was really excited about the prospects of wildflowers during my visit to Arizona in September.  In Northern Arizona I saw some of the best fields of wildflowers I have seen in the desert in two years – and it was September!  This was due to some heavy rain during the month of August, numerous YouTube videos showed flashing flooding and crazy rainfall from Anza-Borrego, California, to Page, Arizona.  Even now, the water year to date rainfall total for Borrego is way ahead of the last few years.

Fast forward to today – unfortunately, the desert has seen little if any rain since those Augusts storms, and California is experiencing the most extreme drought in modern history.  Because of this, my expectations were extremely low.  I was pleased to see a report on the news when I arrived talking about an early bloom this year.  I was even more surprised to see numerous green areas though out Arizona that showed some good potential for a bloom.  Even more encouraging, there were a two of small areas that were actually already in nice bloom right now!

Both areas were along Highway 8.  The first was at mile 149.  There is actually a nice picnic and parking area on the South side of the highway right at the best spot, which included a thick carpet of yellow flowers amongst the saguaro cactus.    At 70 miles per hour, I couldn’t tell what type of wildflowers, but it was a pretty area.  Another nice area was on a rocky hillside at mile 125 – the hills were spotted with a good collection of blooming Brittlebush.  Between the brittlebush, rocks and cactus, this was another nice area similar to what is pictured above.  There were some nice patches of wildflowers in other areas of Arizona, including lupine, but most of those were limited to the shoulder of the highway, an area that always has some bloom.

Now as I made my way West, things looked worse, and I must admit, it doesn’t look very promising for Anza-Borrego.  There are a few blooms in the washes, but most areas are brown.  Now a nice rainfall could change all this, but the forecast isn’t promising either.  In fact, the whole region is experiencing record high temps which should last for at least a few more days  – the heat won’t do the wildflowers in favors.  If things do change, I’ll let you know!

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